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July 19, 2021 12:07 pm
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Anti-Israel Trouble in Orlando

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

Opinion

Crowds gathered at the May 15, 2021 pro-Palestinian rally in Orlando, Florida. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Alan Kornman is a documentarian who records what takes place at anti-Israel rallies in and around the city of Orlando, Florida. He keeps a low profile, and aside from asking a question every once in a while, he doesn’t interfere with protesters and gives everyone their space.

But that hasn’t stopped one rally organizer, Rasha Mubarak, from interfering with Kornman’s ability to report on what goes on at the rallies she promotes.

In mid-May, she singled Kornman out at a rally on the corner of North Eola Drive and Robinson Street in Orlando. During this rally, Kornman asked a protester carrying a sign that declared the land does not belong to Israel, who it did belong to.

“It belongs to the Palestinians,” the young man said. “To hell with Israel. No more Israel.”

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During the rally, Mubarak declared: “We have someone in the audience that is a Zionist that’s a provocateur, has a camera, standing in the front, so I just want people to cover him up. No fighting. Yes, that’s him.” This can be seen at 2:42 in this video.

Within moments, Kornman was surrounded by a crowd of protesters, one of whom slammed her sign into his camera. He was pushed, elbowed, and hit. Being surrounded, he could not move backward or forward to extricate himself from the situation. After his camera is hit with the sign, Kornman yells, “Don’t touch me,” and a young man in the crowd mobbing him asks, “Why are you here?”

As the crowd blocks Kornman’s camera, protesters chant a few iterations of “Free, Free, Palestine!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a call for Israel’s destruction.

“When Rasha Mubarak labeled me as a ‘Zionist’ and a’ provocateur,’ she was knowingly putting me at risk,” Kornman said.

Mubarak has not responded to efforts to contact her through her website, Facebook, and email.

Eventually, Kornman was able to move to the back of the crowd, where he was shadowed by two men who hit his camera with signs so he could not film the event. As he attempted to interview an attendee, these two men told the person not to speak to him.

At the back of the protest, Kornman came upon another group of protesters and started filming them as they chanted in Arabic. One of the protesters carried a sign that equated Zionism, support for Jewish self-determination, with racism. At various points, the crowd chanted in English, “Zionists (sic) is a crime” and in Arabic, “With our life, with our blood, we will save you, Oh Islam.”

“The next thing I know, Rasha Mubarak is coming right at me to control the splinter group,” Kornman explains. “After several minutes, the crowd started pushing me, hitting me with signs to stop me from filming.”

During the melee, Kornman twice called 911 asking for a police officer to come to his aid. A friend also called 911 on his behalf. Despite three calls to 911, help did not come.

In the aftermath of the event, Kornman has filed a report with the Orlando Police Department, accusing Mubarak of violating his right to free speech by singling him out as a Zionist and instructing the crowd to obstruct his view and aggressively surround him. Kornman also asserts that the behavior was motivated by prejudice based on his status as a Jew.

The case is being investigated by Orlando Police detective David Andre, who said he does not know when his investigation will be finished.

Kornman said the delay in bringing the case to the police was due to his efforts to determine whether or not he had a legitimate case, and that he didn’t want to waste the time of law enforcement if he didn’t.

At an anti-Israel rally in 2017, Kornman was accosted by a protester who told him he had no respect for human life: “You are a baby killer. You have Jesus’ blood on your hands. … You [are] Jesus’ killer. What else do you want?”

Dexter Van Zile is Shillman Research Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.

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