The viral clash near Tulane University that saw anti-Israel demonstrators attempt to burn an Israeli flag and attack supporters of the Jewish state happened "out of the blue" and featured unprovoked instigators who did not appear to attend the school, a student who witnessed the assault told the Washington Free Beacon.
The ordeal occurred during a Thursday afternoon rally held just off the Tulane campus. The New Orleans-based university is home to a substantial Jewish population, which has in recent weeks held pro-Israel marches without incident. In the buildup to the Thursday clash, however, a newly-formed Instagram account called "Tulane Students For Palestine" posted a statement condemning "Tulane's endorsement of Zionism and Israeli apartheid" and accusing Israel of "genocide." That group organized the Thursday rally and called upon the general "New Orleans community" to attend, according to the Tulane student, who spoke to the Free Beacon anonymously out of fear of being targeted.
The student said the protest was disrupted by an "orange truck that continued to drive by."
"By the sixth or seventh drive, the guy stopped in the middle of the road," the student said. "Two kids were in the back of the truck—high schoolers, maybe." One used a keffiyeh to conceal his face, while the other "pulled out a lighter" and attempted to burn an Israeli flag. When a pro-Israel demonstrator attempted to "get the flag and bring it back," the student said, the keffiyeh-clad individual "started whacking him with the pole of a Palestinian flag." As the pro-Israel demonstrator staggered back, "two Arab men started beating" him, according to the student, who emphasized that the pro-Israel demonstrator "did not touch the person in the truck." The student said the perpetrators did not appear to be Tulane students.
"The violence was out of the blue. Campus is usually peaceful," the student told the Free Beacon. "It went from zero to 100, essentially."
The viral incident comes as Jewish Americans experience a rise in anti-Semitic attacks following Hamas's Oct. 7 terrorist assault on Israel. Many of those attacks have occurred on college campuses. At a Harvard University "die-in" protest assailing the Jewish state, for example, attendees shoved and accosted a first-year Israeli student, who was surrounded by keffiyeh-clad demonstrators shouting "SHAME!" The Tulane student said she did not expect to see such an attack near her campus, given the university's substantial Jewish population.
In a Thursday afternoon Instagram post, Tulane Students for Palestine noted that while its rally "ended at 1:45 pm," there were "still brave individuals rallying against Zionists right now." In a follow-up post sent Friday, the group said it was "thrilled at the incredible turnout and wave of support yesterday" but saddened "to see the rally end with arrests." At least one anti-Israel demonstrator was arrested in connection with the clash, according to local police. That person does not attend Tulane.
"Due to the legally charged nature of the situation, we are working with a legal team to release a more detailed statement," the group, which did not return a request for comment, posted on its Instagram. "Please stay tuned."
Tulane, which did not return a request for comment, said in a Thursday statement that "a couple of Tulane students were assaulted and reported minor injuries." The school promised additional arrests "once video evidence is reviewed."
It's unclear if Tulane Students for Palestine will attempt to hold additional rallies in the future. In its Instagram post sent before the clash, the group said it will "see you all again next week."