NYPD arrests anti-Israel protester who allegedly called to eject ‘Zionists’ from subway car


Police in New York have arrested a man who allegedly demanded that “Zionists” identify themselves on a crowded subway car around the time of a controversial protest earlier this month at a Manhattan exhibit commemorating the Nova music festival massacre.

Anas Saleh, 24, was arrested on Wednesday morning, the NYPD told the New York Jewish Week.

The Staten Island resident was charged with attempted coercion in the third degree. Under New York law, coercion involves a person forcing another to do something against their will, usually under threat.

Widely circulated footage from the June 10 protest showed a man matching Saleh’s description shouting, “Raise your hand if you’re a Zionist” on a packed subway car.

“This is your chance to get out,” the man shouted. The call was repeated by other activists on the train, many of whom were wearing keffiyehs, or Palestinian scarves frequently worn by activists, that covered their faces.

Last week, the NYPD released a photo of Saleh wearing a keffiyeh, the colors of the Palestinian flag and sunglasses, and urged the public to come forward with information. The New York Post reported that Saleh had turned himself in.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the NYPD were actively investigating the incident since it occurred, the district attorney’s office said, urging anyone with additional information to come forward.

The NYPD issued Saleh a desk appearance ticket ordering him to appear in court on July 1.

The incident occurred surrounding an anti-Israel protest by the hardline group Within Our Lifetime at an exhibition commemorating the victims of the Nova massacre on Oct. 7. The protest featured people wearing the insignia of terror groups and was widely decried as antisemitic. Families of Nova victims were at the exhibit during the protest.

Before the incident, the protesters had gathered at Union Square. Within Our Lifetime had declared a “Day of Rage” in the city that featured stops at multiple locations. At Union Square, demonstrators carried a sign that said “Long live Oct. 7,” bore symbols associated with terror groups, and sparred with pro-Israel counter-protesters. Pro-Palestinian activists in New York have increasingly espoused open support for terrorism in recent weeks. One man told the pro-Israel group, “I wish Hitler was still here. He would’ve wiped all you out.”

When Saleh allegedly called to target “Zionists,” the train was near the Fulton St. subway station, between Union Square and the Nova exhibit, police said.

After coming under heavy fire for the protest, Within Our Lifetime doubled down on targeting the exhibit. “We are proud to protest one of the most egregious zionist propaganda projects in our city,” the group tweeted.

The group’s leader, Nerdeen Kiswani, also defended targeting “Zionists” on the subway, tweeting, “We don’t want zionists in Palestine, NYC, our schools, on the train, ANYWHERE.”

The American Jewish Medical Association, a nonprofit representing Jewish healthcare workers, said Saleh had been identified as a lab technician at the Weill Cornell Medicine Rhee Lab in Manhattan. The medical group sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Wednesday urging them to prosecute Saleh “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“We believe this is truly a matter of safety for patients, students, and medical professionals,” the letter said.

The New York Post reported that the dean of Weill Cornell Medicine told employees on Wednesday that the school was investigating and said, “If any employee is confirmed to be involved in this incident, appropriate action will be taken.”

Within Our Lifetime protested against Weill Cornell, claiming the center had “marginalized its Palestinian community members,” days before the Union Square rally. Video the group posted online showed demonstrators chanting “Israel will fall” outside the medical center. The group has also protested against the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Antisemitism has surged in New York City since Oct. 7 and police data shows that Jews are targeted by hate crimes far more than any other group.

Following the arrest, Hochul condemned the incident as a “shameful display of antisemitism.” She tweeted, “We have zero tolerance for hate and this individual should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams said, “Threatening New Yorkers based on their beliefs is not only vile, it’s illegal and will not be tolerated.”