Local rabbi among 3 people arrested in altercation at Manhattan pro-Palestinian protest


(New York Jewish Week) — A New York rabbi and real estate developer was arrested on Tuesday and charged with assaulting pro-Palestinian protesters.

Reuven Kahane, 57, was charged with assault in the 2nd degree, an NYPD spokesperson told the New York Jewish Week. 

Two demonstrators were also arrested in the incident. Maryellen Novak, 55, was charged with criminal mischief and unlawful assembly, and John Rozendaal, 63, with criminal mischief.

The altercation is the latest fallout from the pro-Palestinian encampment at Columbia University. About 25 members of a campus pro-Palestinian alliance had gathered at the corner of Park Ave. and 72nd St. on the Upper East Side Tuesday morning to picket a Columbia trustee’s residence. The protest group, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, was a leader of the encampment.

According to police, Kahane was in his vehicle near the scene, and as demonstrators were leaving, two people began arguing with Kahane and damaged his vehicle. Rozendaal was crossing a street when he “started banging on the front” of the vehicle, a police spokesperson said.

Police said Kahane “tapped” one of the demonstrators, who was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. All three arrested individuals are residents of Manhattan.

Kahane is a real estate investor and Orthodox rabbi. He is a relative of Meir Kahane, an extremist rabbi from New York who led the Jewish Defense League and was later barred from the Israeli Knesset for racism. Meir Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.

Reuven Kahane did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but his name and age match those of an individual quoted as Meir Kahane’s cousin in a 1990 article in the Los Angeles Times. His grandfather, Levi Yitzchak Kahane, was Meir Kahane’s uncle.

Kahane pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, was released and is set to appear in court again in June, court records showed.