Englewood mayor Michael Wildes, attorney for a Jewish student at Temple University who was attacked during a student fair, told JLBC there was an arrest made in the incident this week, and the individual has been charged with assault. However, the District Attorney’s office decided not to characterize it as a hate crime,
Daniel Vessal said he was punched during an argument on Aug. 20 near a table set up by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Vessel said that he his assailant used anti-Semitic slurs.
Twenty-two year old Abdel Aziz Jalil was charged with simple assault and reckless endangerment. “We reached out to the District Attorney’s office to tell them that the assault happened right after an ethnically or religiously motivated argument. It is our hope that the DA will change his mind and characterize this as a hate crime,” said Wildes.
“It’s important that we get this right, and if it was more than assault it should not be acceptable,” said Wildes. Wildes is particularly concerned because this is one of a growing number of rifts on college campuses between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students. The incident quickly gained national attention with advocacy groups calling on Temple University to label the attack a hate crime.
While the criminal charges are now with the DA’s office, said Ray Bentzer, Temple University’s associate vice president for university communications, “We also gave the results of the police investigation to Student Affairs, so there are two processes going on simultaneously. Police charges and violation of the student code are separate processes,” he said.
Teresa Powell, Temple University’s Vice President for Student Affairs released a statement saying: “We want to emphasize that Temple University unequivocally condemns the disparagement or assault of any person based on religion, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity. The university will not tolerate violence of any kind directed toward members of the Temple community.”
By Elizabeth Kratz