AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Amid protest from a Jewish group, pro-Palestinian activists commemorated at the University of Amsterdam a terrorist who died on the run from Israeli authorities after he murdered an Israeli in Jerusalem.
The event honoring Omar Nayef Zayed, who in 1990 escaped to Bulgaria from an Israeli prison, was held Thursday at CREA café, a for-profit event venue owned by the university and on the campus of the University of Amsterdam. Several dozen people arrived at the event, organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine group as part of their Israel Apartheid Week activities.
“The evening will begin with the commemoration of victims of Israeli occupation,” the organizers wrote, “such as Omar Nayef Zayed who was recently murdered by the Israeli Mossad while seeking asylum in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.”
Zayed, 52, was found dead in a yard of the embassy on March 4, with severe contusions to his body. Bulgarian authorities said he was not shot, raising the hypothesis he fell from the building of the Palestinian mission in the Bulgarian capital, where he was holed up since Israel put out a request for his extradition. Israeli officials declined to comment on his death, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Herman Loonstein of the Federative Jewish Netherlands organization, a local advocacy group, said the event “risks encouraging anti-Semitism by celebrating the murder of a Jew,” adding: “As the University of Amsterdam is hosting this event, they are complicit.” He demanded the University of Amsterdam apologize and distance itself from the messages heard at the meeting Thursday.
Reached by telephone and email, the university declined to react to the allegations.
Zayed, who was born in the West Bank city of Jenin, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 for the murder of a Jewish yeshiva student in the Old City of Jerusalem. He escaped prison while undergoing medical treatment.