Wearing shirts and carrying flags bearing insignia of the JDL, once declared a terrorist organization, the violent men and women also attacked left-wing Jewish activists. At least one was arrested.
Members of the Jewish Defense League severely beat a 55-year old Palestinian American man and assaulted several American Jewish activists with IfNotNow outside the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Sunday, new video footage provided to +972 Magazine shows.
Kamal Nayfeh, a father of four and an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, was reportedly visiting his daughter Danya, a student at Georgetown University in Washington at the time.
He was punched and kicked and clobbered with flag poles, leaving him with cuts and bruises all over his face and body. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital and treated for his injuries. He had to have 18 stitches around his eye.
His daughter Danya, who can be heard screaming in the video “that’s my dad!”, recalled the attack in a statement provided to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU):
When I heard the screams and found out my father was being beaten nearby, I was horrified. I ran to him as quickly as I could. He appeared stunned and his eye looked awful, all swollen and cut up. They beat him after they heard he was Palestinian. He was not threatening at all, it’s perfectly clear that my father was brutalized simply because of who he is.
Two of the JDL members who attacked Nayfeh were eventually arrested by the police and released, according to the IMUE. One was charged with a misdemeanor and another with felony assault.
Speaking via phone with +972 Magazine, Danya Nayfeh said she had to repeatedly plead with police to arrest her father’s attackers, screaming “who did this?” and that officers threatened to arrest her instead for if she didn’t stop demanding they take action against the JDL men. She said the first people to pull JDL guys off her dad were other protesters, she assumes from IfNotNow.
The violent confrontations went largely unreported in the coverage and social media buzz surrounding the IfNotNow protests against AIPAC.
A second video shows his eventual detention after appearing to assault IfNotNow activists:
In a Facebook status published Tuesday, IfNotNow member Shana Shawn Salzberg described a very scary confrontation with mostly “huge muscular white men”:
One of them took a pole smashed it on a tall person’s forehead, which started bleeding. I was shoved hard with a closed fist and a pole in such a way that my head ended up behind someone’s arm which ended up cutting off my wind pipe for a second…. These were Jews shoving and stabbing other Jews in the name of Jewish protection.
The Washington Jewish Week spoke with Meir Weinstein, who described himself as the coordinator of the JDL — before most of the violence occurred that day. He said that his organization was “primarily here to counter the anti-Israel mobs that are going to show up” and to protect Jews attending the conference, who he said were in danger of being attacked.
The Jewish Defense League, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has been described as a terrorist organization by the FBI. The group is believed to be behind several fatal bombings in the United States several decades ago, although it was largely dormant until recently.
The group’s Israeli affiliate, Kach, is outlawed in Israel and is listed as a terrorist organization in Israel, Europe and the United States. Kahane, who advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank, was later assassinated in New York City.
Kahane’s violent, racist ideology has made a comeback in Israel as well in recent years, advocated by groups like Lehava and political parties like Otzmat Israel. Graffiti reading “Kahane was right” is a common sight in Israel today.