University of California at Berkeley was again the site of a clash involving pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists last Friday when Husam Zakharia, leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine, assaulted Jessica Felber of the pro-Israel Tikvah group with a shopping cart.
The incident occurred during competing events from the SJP-run “Israel Apartheid Week” and “Israel Peace and Diversity Week” organized by Tikvah. Felber was holding a sign that read “Israel Wants Peace” when Zakharia intentionally slammed her from behind with a shopping cart filled with toys donated for the welfare of Arab children in the Hamas-controlled Gaza region.
Felber told Israel National News that she responded to the incident by immediately placing her attacker under citizens’ arrest. Police arrested him later that day and Felber expressed hope that the District Attorney will see the case through and file charges against Zakharia.
Felber said that Friday’s incident was not the first time Zakharia used violence against pro-Israel advocates. According to her, physical intimidation has frequently been employed as a tool by SJP to silence students opposing their anti-Zionist activities on campus. “SJP students have been terrorizing us for three years with intimidation, accusations and threats. This incident is simply the culmination of it all and we are not going to tolerate it anymore.”
SJP’s tactics backfired on at least one occasion when, in November 2008, the group attempted to disrupt a concert organized by the Zionist Freedom Alliance during “Israel Liberation Week” on the UC Berkeley campus. After striking a ZFA activist in the head, Zakharia found himself beaten to the ground. Following the incident, Zakharia and two fellow SJP members, along with two Zionist activists, were cited for battery but no charges were officially filed.
The UC Berkeley Hillel and leaders of the California Bay Area Jewish community condemned the violence at the time but made no moral distinction between SJP and ZFA. This time around, however, Felber said Hillel and many other Jewish organizations have been very supportive and she expressed hope that SJP will no longer be able to intimidate her or other students on campus.
View video below of Husam Zakharia and fellow SJP activist handling out anti-Israel propaganda on campus while standing on an Israeli flag.