Jewish student at Columbia attacked while leaving a pro-Israel demonstration
Noah Lederman said he was walking back to his dorm when a pro-Palestinian protestor shoved and pinned him against a wall
A Jewish freshman at Columbia University who donned a shirt with an Israeli flag on it during a pro-Israel demonstration on Friday is on edge after he said he was shoved, pinned against a wall and, when he fled, told by a pro-Palestinian protester to “keep f—ing running,” Jewish Insider has learned.
Noah Lederman, a philosophy and pre-law major, was heading back to his dorm from a pro-Israel demonstration to prepare for Shabbat when he was “physically assaulted by a masked individual right outside of the Northwest Corner Building on Broadway and 120th Street,” he told JI.
“I was at the counterprotest for much of the afternoon. We ended it when the pro-Palestinians were starting to march. I didn’t want to be there for that. I wanted to get out of there safely,” Lederman continued. “So everyone dispersed. I went to the bookstore across the street and turned my phone off for Shabbos. As I’m walking back to my dorm on 122nd Street, when I’m almost at 120th I notice a group of protestors appeared to be marching toward me in my direction.”
Lederman, who had been waving an Israeli flag during the counterprotest, said he kept his head down, hoping to pass through without being noticed. “A masked member of the group wearing a white keffiyeh and carrying a camera, took notice of my shirt, which in addition to the flag said in English and Hebrew ‘together we will prevail.’ His eyes flared and he instructed a group of protestors behind him to spread across the sidewalk to engulf me. My initial thought was to stand still like water running along rocks. But before I could process, the man with the camera shoved me against the wall [of the building] aggressively and pinned me in an attempt to immobilize me. The mob surrounded me. As I broke free, the assailants continued to pursue me, shoving me and yelling ‘keep running, keep f—king running.’”
“At a certain point an unknown, presumably Jewish, student yelled ‘leave him alone,’” Lederman recalled, adding that while he was shaking he found NYPD officers, who later filed a police report, a copy of which was obtained by JI.
Lederman’s roommate, Liam Schoor, who was with Lederman at the time of the incident, told JI that “Noah couldn’t move through [the crowd of protestors] since he was essentially being slammed up against the wall. A bystander did say to let him go… Eventually the guy moved and Noah and I ran to some NYPD officers until the protestors cleared out and we could safely continue walking.”
A spokesperson for Columbia told JI, “Since the alleged incident took place outside of Columbia’s gates, the NYPD has handled this investigation. The safety of our community is our highest priority.”
According to Lederman, the wall that he was pinned up against was part of a Columbia building. It is not clear whether he was attacked by a Columbia student, but Lederman noted that at least some of the protestors were from the group Students for Justice in Palestine, which remains temporarily suspended from campus but has continued mobilizing anti-Israel events on campus throughout the suspension.
According to a witness, the anti-Israel rally was made up of at least 500 people spanning more than five blocks, while the counterprotest had some 20 people.
This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to include a comment from Columbia University.