Arab-Israeli Journalist Assaulted at Columbia University, Forced To Cancel Speech

'Instead of a lecture, I went to file a police complaint,' Yoseph Haddad said

L: Yoseph Haddad (Twitter) R: Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
April 19, 2024

An Arab-Israeli journalist was forced to cancel his Thursday speech at Columbia University after campus agitators pushed him, punched him in the face, and told him to kill himself.

Yoseph Haddad was on his way to meet a Columbia Public Safety officer and a member of campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) when he encountered a group of what he called "pro-terrorist protesters." One of the agitators wore a keffiyeh over his head, a Palestinian flag around his neck, and waved a bloodied and tattered Israeli flag in Haddad's direction, a video of the encounter shows. Another repeatedly told the journalist to "take a gun to your head," "kill yourself," and "shoot yourself."

Haddad told the group that they "have no idea what's going on" and that he would "keep telling the truth about all of you." At that point, a keffiyeh-clad individual pushed and then punched Haddad, according to the video.

"I was physically attacked by pro-terrorist protesters before my lecture at Columbia University," Haddad said. "Instead of a lecture, I went to file a police complaint."

The incident occurred shortly before Haddad was scheduled to speak to a group of students on Columbia's campus. SSI, which organized the event, said the assault shows that the "situation on campus has become utterly and categorically untenable."

"Weeks ago, SSI planned an event with Israeli-Arab journalist Yoseph Haddad," the group said in a statement. "On his way to meet a Public Safety officer and members of SSI, Yoseph was shoved and punched in the face by an anti-Israel protester while walking through the protest outside of the 116th street gates."

"Following the assault, Yoseph voluntarily went to the precinct with local law enforcement and is pressing charges. The event had to be canceled."

Chaotic protests plagued Columbia's campus Thursday, one day after the school's president, Minouche Shafik, testified to Congress on her response to campus anti-Semitism.

Anti-Israel students, many of whom wore hats, hoods, masks, and keffiyehs in an attempt to conceal their identities, formed an unsanctioned tent encampment on a campus lawn. After protesters ignored repeated warnings from the school to leave the area, Shafik authorized police officers to arrest more than 100 participants. In addition to the arrests, the school suspended a number of student activists, including Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D., Minn.) daughter.

Protests nonetheless continued throughout the afternoon and evening. In some cases, participants made explicit calls for terrorism against Jews.

One female protester, who covered her face and head with a keffiyeh, yelled, "We are Hamas," "We're all Hamas," and "Long live Hamas" at passersby as she banged a pot against a security fence. Another protester pledged to repeat Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel "every day."

"Never forget the 7th of October," the protester yelled to two Jewish students standing near the entrance to Columbia's campus.

Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.