Police Investigate Assault, Possible Hate Crime On Temple Campus
By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Temple University officials are investigating an alleged attack that took place at a table between a Pro-Israeli student and Pro-Palestinian student.
There are claims that anti-Semitic remarks were made, but officials have not confirmed that.
Both sides have different accounts of what happened, but Eyewitness News spoke with two witnesses.
Iman Sultan says, “Yesterday was my first day at college. I just moved in and I saw this happen.”
Sultan joined the Students for Justice in Palestine organization moments before an alleged attack took place.
“I was actually kind of worried for my safety.”
She and Samantha Pinto were at this table during TempleFest Wednesday when they say a student approached them making racial remarks.
“Saying that we were terrorists and that our table supported Hamas and other violent organizations.”
Samantha Pinto, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, says, “So I started laughing because that was an absurd statement. So basically he came closer to me and aggressively started yelling, ‘oh look at you, you’re such an idiot over here just laughing at me.”
The table was only manned by girls at the time, but one of their male friends, who is not a member of their group, started arguing with the student.
Pinto says, “I think he also felt defensive because it was all young girls, including myself, standing at the table. So I think it was a combination of that and it seems like he lost his cool.”
That’s when witnesses say the man slapped the student, but they insist anti-Semitic remarks were not made because they didn’t know the student was Jewish.
They say had the attacker been a member of SJP he wouldn’t have reacted that way.
“We always do training to remind people how to deal with arguments and how to stay calm.”
Hannah Giterman, with Hillel at Temple, says, “We are outraged at what had gone on yesterday.”
Even though she didn’t witness the incident, she says the victim told her organization a vastly different story.
“He approached them in a very peaceful way and they responded with anti-Semitic slurs.”
They also claim the student was punched not slapped.
“The student was hurt and ended up going to student health services.”
Both students involved in the incident decline to talk with Eyewitness News.
Temple police are now investigating and trying to piece the story together.
Temple spokesperson Ray Betzner says, “There have been a lot of representations. A lot of different individuals, we’d love for them to talk with us.”
Again both students decline to talk.
Officials haven’t spoken to the students either but plan to do so.
If you witnessed the attack you’re being asked to contact Temple Police.
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