Source: X

A 24-year-old Jewish man was attacked for waving an Israeli flag outside of the University of Toronto’s pro-Palestine protest encampment Saturday evening.

After seeing a rise of anti-Israel hate in Canada and the US on university campuses, Ukrainian-Israeli immigrant Moshe Zelig decided to stand up for Israel and Jewish students on campus outside of the protest.

In an interview with True North, Zelig shared his experience of what it was like as a supporter of Israel in what he says was a hostile protest.

Zelig said he has female friends at the campus who have told him they would like to take a stand against the protesters but are afraid of potential repercussions to their academic life and physical safety.

Zelig took it upon himself to show Jewish students that they were not alone at U of T and to have discussions with protesters.

When Zelig arrived at the protest around 4 p.m., he hid his Israeli flag in his bag, not knowing what would happen if he took it out.

“I saw this one girl surrounded by a lot of people. And then, you know, I realized that she was holding an Israeli flag. She was a Chinese student there. She is not Jewish, and the mob just surrounded her. And she was only saying, ‘Guys, please don’t scream. I want to talk to you,’” Zelig told True North. “No one wanted to have a dialogue with her, And eventually, she had to escape.”

After catching up with her and talking to the student about her experience, Zelig was inspired.

“If a girl who is about five feet tall and maybe 100 pounds does it and she is not afraid, why should I be afraid? So I pulled out my big Israeli flag and started circling around Kings College Circle at U of T,” Zelig said.

Zelig is six foot seven, which he believes is why he wasn’t seriously hurt, as he feels his attackers were intimidated by his size.

He said leading up to the attack, he had been called anti-Jewish slurs, called a “dirty Jew” in both Arabic and English, and told to “go back to Poland.”

He said he learned Arabic from living in Israel, where over 1.7 million Muslims live with equal rights to Israeli citizens.”

In the footage of his attack,  a man whose face is covered by a keffiyeh, a Palestinian headscarf that is a symbol of solidarity with anti-Israel militias, attempted to steal Zelig’s Israeli flag out of his hands.

A female protester can be heard screaming at the attacker out of fear the attack would lead to their protest being shut down.

Zelig reported the incident to the police and has hope that despite their identities being concealed, his attackers will be identified.

Campus police told Zelig that it was too dangerous to arrest his attacker on the spot due to a lack of backup.

Zelig said he would understand the protesters more if they called to end the violence. Instead, many called for Intifada, violent resistance against Israelis, or the dismantling of the state of Israel, which would necessitate violence.

“I don’t want Palestinian kids to die. if one Palestinian is dead, it’s one too many for me, Honestly,” he said. “there were zero calls for the release of the hostages, Imagine.”

He said one poster he found particularly offensive said, “We don’t want two states we want one Arab state,” referring to Israel and Palestine.

According to Zelig, he was shocked at how many students inside the encampment were wearing “communist merch.”

He said a booth inside the camp advocates for a communist revolution in Canada, something he finds egregious as an immigrant from Ukraine as his grandparents, who survived the holocaust, were killed by the communist regime there.

“I was really proud of what I did because while I was walking there…people came up to me, whispering, “Am Yisrael C’hai”  or  “Thank you for what you are doing,” he said.

“Am Yisrael C’hai” means “the people of Israel live” and is a commonly used phrase to affirm the continuity of the Jewish people.

He thinks the police should shut the protest down, non-students should be kicked out of the campus, there should be consequences for those students participating, and the international students participating should be deported.

“You have the right to practice free speech 100%. That’s what I was doing that day,” Zelig said. “But if you’re calling for the death of all the Jewish people, if you’re calling for terrorist attacks around the world, if you’re not tolerating the free speech around you and not behaving according to Canadian law (you should be deported.)”