Pro-Israel protestors 311.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Reuters)
LONDON – A British court acquitted a university student on Tuesday who bit a pro-Israel demonstrator at an anti-Israel event at a London university last year.
PhD student Mohamed Abdelkarim punched and bit the cheek of Dean Gold, who was
part of a small group of pro-Israel supporters demonstrating against an “Israel
Apartheid Week” event at the University of London’s School of Oriental and
Gold said the attack had been unprovoked. He was
filming a man who was hurling anti-Semitic remarks, which witnesses said was
Holocaust related, before Abdelkarim knocked the camera out of his hand and bit
him to the extent that he required hospital treatment.
student maintained that he acted in self-defense.
The school condemned
the violence and promised to help police with their inquiries.
school deplores the use of violence and hate speech and will not tolerate them
in or around its premises. We are in touch with the police and await their
report on this incident,” a SOAS spokesman said at the time.
renowned for anti-Israel activity, and the school’s Palestinian society is the
country’s only professionally-run student union society, run by an employee of
the student union.
The incident was referred to the police and both were
charged with assault. The charges against Gold were later dropped.
North London court on Tuesday afternoon, District Judge James Henderson ruled
that the prosecution had not sufficiently proven beyond doubt that Abdelkarim
was not acting in selfdefense.
Henderson said that Abdelkarim was
“consistent and reliable,” and the case was dismissed.
Gold told The
on Wednesday that he was “shocked” by the outcome after numerous
reliable witnesses gave “articulate, compelling” evidence against the defendant,
and with clear video footage of the start of the attack.
The judge could
have been mistaken for the defendant’s lawyer, he said.
appeared to some to be an exercise in cherry picking evidence from a largely
discredited defense witness, ignoring other evidence given by responsible
witnesses,” Gold said. The Judge dismissed video and audio footage as being
inconclusive and accepted Abdelkarim’s defense, largely on the basis of
“previous good character.”
A second charge relating to the damage of
Gold’s camera was also dismissed by the judge, who said there was not enough
evidence to show that the damage was not caused in the 10 months that it was in
Gold refuted this claim, telling the Post
that the damage to
the camera was documented by the police in a recorded interview hours after the
“The message that will stem from this ruling I fear will endanger
those involved in pro-Israel advocacy and could lead to an increase of attacks
on Jews and Israelis on campus,” Gold added.
One of the pro-Israel
demonstrators who witnessed the incident, and gave evidence at the trial, said
that the ruling undermines freedom of speech.
“The decision not to
convict the defendant despite compelling evidence is extremely worrying,
especially as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments are on the rise in the UK,”
said Gili Brenner, who heads the UK office of the Israel advocacy organization
“Supporters of Israel expect that the law will
uphold their right to express their views on campus without fear of intimidation
or violence, and this ruling undermines that.”