Leonard Petlakh, the head of a Jewish Y in Brooklyn, was hospitalized for a broken nose Tuesday night after being punched by a pro-Palestinian protester following the exhibition basketball game between the NBA’s Nets and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Petiakh’s 14-year-old and 10-year-old sons were with their father at the time of the attack while exiting the Barclays Center arena following the Nets’ 111-94 victory.
“The last thing I remember is this guy screaming ‘Free Palestine’ and then a really strong punch,” Petlakh told JTA. “To get bloodied in front of your kids, it really crosses all the red lines.”
The assailant ran away and Petlakh sought medical care and required eight stitches. He reported the incident to the police, who are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Prior to the game, a reception was held to raise funds for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Fans verbally sparred inside the arena as the game was ending when pro-Palestinian protesters began shouting slogans and a pro-Israel fan grabbed a Palestinian flag from one of the protesters, according to Petlakh.
As the crowds spilled out of the arena and onto the street, one of the protesters took a swing at Petlakh.
The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which sponsored the protest rally, condemned the attack.
“If something happened after the game, which would have been several hours after the protest ended, it had nothing to do with us or the demonstration,” JVP said in a press release. “(We) express our horror at the injuries that Mr. Petlakh suffered.”