Court dismisses case of anti-Israeli activist biting

Abdelkarim punched and bit the cheek of Dean Gold, who was part of a small group of Israel supporters.

Pro-Israel protestors 311 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Reuters)
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.
Last March, 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 African Studies.
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.
The Kuwait-born student maintained that he acted in self-defense.
The school condemned the violence and promised to help police with their inquiries.
“The 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.
SOAS is 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.
At a 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 Jerusalem Post 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.
“The summation 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 police care.
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 attack.
“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 StandWithUs.
“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.”