Bobst Library at New York University
Bobst Library at New York UniversityiStock

A 21-year-old student has been charged with assault after he punched one person and slammed the thumb of another during a pro-Israel demonstration at New York University’s main library on Tuesday, The New York Daily News reported.

The student, identified as Aiden Lopez, and a female student were involved in a verbal dispute at Bobst Library, when he allegedly smacked a gate on her thumb, leaving a minor bruise, police said.

Another man who was not a student, 31, told police he tried de-escalating the conflict but Lopez punched him with a closed fist and smashed his phone to the ground.

Lopez is facing charges of criminal mischief in addition to assault. He has not been charged with a hate crime, police said.

The student newspaper Washington Square News reported that the incident occurred as a group of pro-Israel students sat in the lobby of the campus library with Israeli flags draped over the chairs.

The newspaper reported that the perpetrator approached the group about an hour before the alleged assault, saying: “What is all this Zionist sh*t doing in my school.” When he came back, he was “spewing antisemitic slurs” at the woman whose finger was slammed in the library turnstile, according to the paper.

“The University is disturbed by this episode,” said university spokesman John Beckman in a statement. “Physical violence is rare on our campus, and NYU has zero tolerance for violence. In these fraught times, when emotions are running particularly high, we recommend that all members of the NYU community take steps to de-escalate situations in which they find themselves, and that they take special care both to avoid engaging in or rising to provocations.”

The incident is the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents on campuses since Hamas’ attack against Israel on October 7.

At Cornell University, a professor said he was “exhilarated” by Hamas’ attack on Israel, and declared that “Hamas has challenged the monopoly of violence”. The professor, Russell Rickford, later apologized.

Also at Cornell, a student was criminally charged after allegedly making threats of a mass shooting and antisemitic violence.

In another incident, Jewish students at Cooper Union College in New York City were forced to lock themselves inside the library as a mob of anti-Israeli protesters blocked the doors.

About 40 minutes later, security escorted the students out of the building via a tunnel.

On Monday, the University of Pennsylvania alerted the FBI of threatening messages its staff members received targeting its Jewish community, and an investigation is underway.