July 20, 2024
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Michael Wildes to Represent Temple U’s Victim of Antisemitic Attack

Englewood–Daniel Vessal, a Jewish college senior at Temple University in Philadelphia, was the victim of a vicious assault in late August, which occurred during a student group event at the table of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor and a former mayor of Englewood, is acting at Vessel’s attorney in connection with the matter.

Vessal was punched in the face after he began to speak with individuals seated at and standing around the table. Immediately after the assault, Vessal was called a “Zionist,” “kike,” and other antisemitic epithets, indicating that he was targeted based on his religious beliefs and political views. Vessel required medical attention and was treated at the Temple University Medical Center’s emergency room.

“This is a very important case, because in light of all the challenges the state of Israel has endured this summer and with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, we have to make sure this kind of violence doesn’t take root on America’s college campuses,” Wildes told JLBC.

“In my handling of this case with the legal team and with the university investigative committee that has been empaneled, I realize how important it is for law enforcement and the disciplinary committee on campus to get this right,” he said.

Wildes is prepared to file federal charges if necessary. In addition to his background as a federal prosecutor, his team includes other attorneys who have worked for the District Attorney. “Other charges may be brought,” said Wildes. “Whether or not this student and this group facilitates violence, this has no place in chambers of education,” he said.

Other organizations are interested in helping Wildes with the defense of Vessal, who Wildes referred to as “a mensch, a gentleman of the first order, who is not overdoing this, and neither is his legal team. He [Vessal] literally expressed himself, turned around, and was met with someone’s fist. Medical attention was accorded. Our response has to be strong and judicious,” he said.

Wildes indicated he is planning to work with Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Projects and a host of other interested Jewish organizations who have experience dealing with campus activity and Jewish advocacy. A letter denouncing the attack to Temple University’s president was recently signed by the AMCHA Initiative, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hasbara Fellowships, Proclaiming Justice to The Nations, Inc., Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, StandWithUs, The Lawfare Project, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)

By Elizabeth Kratz

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