Gary Youstrofsky is no longer speaking to the press.
The outspoken American animal rights activist has been the subject of a minor media storm in Israel after two recent interviews with the local press took a turn for the worse, with one interview last week ending with a physical altercation.
In the latter, he and journalist Arel Segel nearly came to blows during an encounter at a vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv.
Segel said Youstrofsky prodded him and insulted him, telling him he hopes his children are raped, before pushing him to the ground. Youstrofsky, for his part, told Ynet that he was attacked by Segel, and pushed him to the ground in self-defense.
On Sunday Segel filed a police complaint, and on Monday Youstrofsky was questioned by Tel Aviv police on allegations of assault. On Tuesday, Tel Aviv police spokeswoman Orit Friedman said that police have no intention of seeking an arrest warrant and that Youstrofsky is free to roam around Israel as he pleases.
Not long after he was questioned by Tel Aviv police, a visibly tired Youstrofsky gave an interview to Ynet that quickly fell apart. After he was told that Hitler was a vegetarian, he tore off his microphone and stormed out of the interview, cursing the interviewer and telling him to perform a sexual act on him.
Youstrofsky was supposed to have given a lecture at Bar-Ilan University on Monday, but once word of his altercation with Segel was reported, the university canceled the event.
As it stands, Youstrofsky is still set to give lectures at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Cinematheque, according to an activist helping organize his visit to Israel.
When asked for an interview with Youstrofsky on Tuesday, the man organizing his trip asked for questions to be emailed up front. He replied within a few minutes that they had no intention of answering the questions and that they feared things would be taken out of context.
Youstrofsky founded the animal rights organization Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADDAPT) in 1996, and between 1997- 2001 he was arrested 13 times for actions taken protesting his cause, including breaking into a fur factory in Canada and releasing over a thousand animals.
A video of a 2010 lecture he gave at Georgia Tech University, posted on Youtube with the title “The best speech you will ever hear,” has been translated into over two dozen languages, with the Hebrew version reaching nearly 700,000 views.
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