Witnesses Back Israel Activist in Dispute With J-Street Leader at Brandeis
Witnesses came forward on Monday to confirm reports that a J Street U student board member insulted a pro-Israel student on the Brandeis campus at the weekend, contradicting a formal statement denying the incident made by J Street.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Talia Lepson called Daniel Mael a “s*** bag” and angrily told the Brandeis junior that “Jews hate you” at 12:45 AM on Friday night.
Moshe Yaghoubian, via Facebook on Sunday, confirmed Mael’s version of events: “I was with Daniel Mael on the Friday night when the incident occurred and I can verify that his account is 100% accurate.”
Student Elad Ohayon said, “In all honestly, I’ve never heard a lie come out of either Moshe Yaghoubian or Daniel Mael mouths, not even as a joke. I could never imagine either one of them lying about something as serious as the incident that took place.”
Mael filed a police report, while Lepson contacted J Street, which issued a blanket statement refuting what happened and saying that Lepson, too, had gone to the police.
Mael said, “I don’t feel comfortable on campus knowing people will lob verbal insults at me simply because we disagree.” In his report to police, Mael described the “uncivil environment that is developing on campus and the attempts to isolate students with differing opinions.”
On Monday, via Twitter, Mael republished articles he’d written last year that recounted antagonism from J Street U members, including one case in December, when Mael stood up for Israel Defense Forces Captain Barak Raz, who was being heckled at a Brandeis lecture.
Mael has also stood up for Muslim female rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was invited to speak and receive an award at Brandeis, but the invitation was rescinded after pressure from Muslim groups, including CAIR.
The focus on J Street comes as the group is trying to appeal to its base on the political left while also to the more moderate leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which will consider J Street’s application to join its “big tent” on Wednesday.
J Street has also come under the microscope in other fora, including New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade, which is engrossed in a debate with volunteers who don’t want to allow Jewish groups that support anti-Israel boycotts into the march up Fifth Avenue, in June.