Israeli animal rights activists
Israeli animal rights activistsFlash 90

Jewish-American animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky attacked Erel Segal, a noted Israeli journalist, and punched a cameraman, according to Segal, who writes a column in Maariv. The incident took place Thursday when Yourofsky – who is on his second lecture tour in Israel – was brought by a TV documentary team to meet Segal.

Segal says the Channel 2 team did not tell him in advance that it was bringing Yourofsky to meet him, and decided instead to surprise him.

In his column Sunday, Segal  writes that he was seated in a restaurant when Yourofsky walked in and noticed he was wearing a leather jacket. Things seem to have deteriorated very quickly from that point. "Now, Gary Yourofsky's face is centimeters away from mine. I can see the hairs in his nose. He is taunting me to give the first punch after he wished that my wife and children would be raped because I am wearing a leather jacket. The man is a psychopath. He is looking for blood."

"I am scared," Segal confesses. "I underwent a complicated stomach operation a month ago. The last thing I need is a brawl with a lunatic with blood in his eyes, whose is banned from entry into Britain and Canada because of violent activity.

"The team around me is frightened. They are afraid to get close. Finally, someone tries to separate us. Yourofsky gets up. He suddenly pushes my chair. I fall on the floor…Ofer, the cameraman, takes a punch. I recover quickly and get up to defend myself. People surround me, and him, too. He curses and tries to break free. Now I'm ready. The adrenaline is pumping. The team escorts him out of the restaurant."

Segal says he agreed to take part in the documentary program because, while he is sympathetic to animal rights, he is concerned about the radical direction that the animal rights movement has taken. The Youtube video of one of Yourofsky's lectures has become a huge hit in Israel, and many celebrities think highly of the activist, who has been arrested 13 times between the years 1997–2001, and has spent 77 days in a Canadian maximum security prison in 1999, after raiding a fur farm.

Yourofsky told Maariv in response: "I don’t understand what the fuss is about, it was just a loud argument between two people, which heated up."

Bar Ilan cancels, Ariel doesn't

Following the attack on Segal, Bar Ilan University's Student Union decided to cancel a planned lecture by Yourofsky at the university. Last Tuesday, Israel's Education Ministry issued instructions to high schools, not to host lectures by Yourofsky.

The student union at Ariel university, meanwhile, said it would not cancel a planned appearance by Yourofsky despite the altercation with Segal.

The lecture at Ariel in Samaria has also upset Israeli left-wingers. Website +972 Mag asked Yourofsky "about the possible collision of agendas in appearing in a place deemed illegal by the entire international community for the purpose of promoting an end to animal suffering."

Yourofsky said he sees no point in caring about any human beings so long as animals that are being regularly slaughtered. “When people start eating sliced up Jew flesh, or seared Palestinian children in between two slices of bread with onions, pickles and mustard, then I’ll be concerned about the Middle East situation,” he told the website.