published : 2023-11-06

UMass Amherst Student Arrested for Assault and Desecration of Israeli Flag, Fuelling Antisemitism Debate

Suspect Released on Bail, Prohibited from Returning to Campus

A photo of UMass Amherst campus taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

A University of Massachusetts Amherst student was arrested after allegedly punching a Jewish student and spitting on the Israeli flag the student was holding.

The incident took place Friday night at the end of a vigil organized by UMass Hillel in which students called for the release of the more than 240 Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

The suspect is accused of approaching the crowd and aggressively giving people the middle finger, according to school officials and the UMass Chief of Police.

After security left, the same student allegedly returned to the gathering and assaulted a Jewish student holding an Israeli flag, UMass Hillel said.

The suspect also allegedly grabbed the flag and spit on it. A UMass Hillel staff member stepped in to de-escalate as other staff members witnessed the incident.

An image of students peacefully gathering during the vigil, holding signs with messages of solidarity, taken with a Nikon D850.

The victim was not injured, according to the university.

UMass police investigated and arrested the suspect on the night of the event. The suspect was released on bail, but prohibited from returning to campus.

Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Shelly Perdomo-Ahmed and Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Police Tyrone Parham condemned the incident in a joint statement, emphasizing that it was the act of an individual and not representative of any group.

UMass Hillel assured students that there is no ongoing security threat but encouraged them to walk in groups at night and avoid engaging with counter-protesters.

The incident at UMass Amherst reflects a concerning trend of antisemitism on many college and university campuses after the recent Hamas attack on Israel.

A close-up shot of an Israeli flag, symbolizing unity and strength, taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

Efforts to combat antisemitism in higher education have gained attention, with Israel's special envoy for combating antisemitism, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, discussing the issue on 'Sunday Night In America.'

Amidst the rising tensions, it is crucial for the campus community to promote civility and respect while engaging with opposing viewpoints.

The UMass Amherst case serves as a reminder that hatred and bigotry have no place in any community.