Jewish civil rights group calls out Massachusetts university after violent rally

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A Jewish civil rights organization is calling out the University of Massachusetts, Boston for its inaction on an investigation into a campus organization for hosting a pro-Palestine rally that turned violent.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center sent a letter to the university on Tuesday demanding that it open an investigation into the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, which hosted the rally on June 24, as well as any students involved in the incident.

According to the letter, Dexter Van Zile a reporter for CAMERA, was “intimidated, harassed, and assaulted” after one participant in the rally called him a “rabid Zionist.”

Video footage of the event shows protesters shouting “Zionist, go home!” which was directed at Van Zile, and many people gathered around him.

While several protesters gave Van Zile “the finger,” someone shouted, “Don’t give him ammunition” and “They will use this against us.”

According to the letter, the protest began outside the Massachusetts State House and then protesters demonstrated outside of a Anti-Defamation League office.

Van Zile told Fox News that what he experienced at the protest were “the worst seven minutes of my life.”

As a result of the incident, Van Zile said he doesn’t like to go out in public too much and worries that the protesters at the event will identify him walking the streets of Boston, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State House in Boston

However, Van Zile said that while he was lucky to go on with his life after the event, students at the University of Massachusetts, Boston may not.

“Suppose I was a Jew on the campus of UMass Boston and I had to share public space with these folks,” Van Zile said.These people may, you know, if they’re willing to mob me in broad daylight in the streets of Boston, the way they did, what do you think they’re going to do to a Jew on their campus, when they don’t think anyone is looking? And that’s the thing that I find very, very concerning.”

The Louis D. Brandeis Center letter states that even though the event took place off-campus, students are still responsible for their actions according to the university student code of conduct.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA – May 21, 2017: Daytime view of the University of Massachusetts Boston campus along the Boston Harborwalk

“Mr. Van Zile was attacked at the UMass Boston SJP event because he has been a vocal supporter of Israel. Unfortunately, it appears the University has done nothing in the three-plus months since Mr. Van Zile filed his complaints, accompanied by this documentation,” the letter states.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center also asked the university to issue a public statement affirming that they will protect the rights of Jewish students “for whom Zionism is an integral part of their identity.”

Denise Katz-Prober, the director of legal initiatives at the Louis D. Brandeis Center told Fox News that instances like this are hardly limited to the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

“Recently just last year at Tufts University, [Students for Justice in Palestine] led a similar campaign of intimidation against a Zionist Jewish student there in an attempt to kick him out of student government,” Katz-Prober said.

Israeli flag flying over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

Katz-Prober also said that the silence by the University of Massachusetts, Boston administration on the incident leaves Jewish and pro-Israel students wondering if they can feel safe on campus.

“I think [Jewish and pro-Israel students] are left wondering what happens If they go anywhere near an event organized by or hosted by SJP? Are they going to be harassed, assaulted, targeted similarly to Mr. Van Zile, simply because of their Jewish identity?” Katz-Prober asked. “No student should have to have that concern.”

DeWayne Lehman, the director of communications for the University of Massachusetts Boston told Fox News that the university is investigating the incident, but added that the investigation is “governed by federal student privacy regulations.”

Fox News reached out to the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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