When he heard that anti-Israel protesters were going to be rallying outside Israel’s consulate and Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Midtown Manhattan on April 20, Matthew Greenman from nearby Westchester County in New York decided to do something to show his support for the Jewish state.
For his efforts, Greenman was called a “terrorist,” assaulted and injured in a case currently being investigated by the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit.
The rally was organized by the anti-Israel groups Within Our Lifetime, Palestinian Youth Movement and Samidoun, among others. It was billed as a rally “to support Palestinian resistance and liberation by any means necessary.”
According to Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.org, one of the rally’s organizers, Nerdeen Kiswani was named “Antisemite of the Year” in 2020 by Rez’s organization. And last month, Kiswani’s organization Within Our Lifetime was banned from Instagram for inciteful hate speech.
“We are not surprised that this rally was stained by violence, given that it was coordinated by Kiswani,” said Rez. “By skewing the facts about rioting erupting at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem following a series of terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews over the last few weeks, these groups are complicit in a misinformation smear campaign that has the potential to further exacerbate the increase in anti-Semitic acts in New York.”
Recounting what happened, Greenman said: “I was walking with my Israeli flag on my back as a cape in front of the protesters. I turned around, and this guy made eye contact with me. … He followed me to the sidewalk and said, ‘When we’re somewhere more private, I’ve got something for you.’ I kept walking. I was on crutches, by the way, recovering from a sprained foot.
“He started getting closer, along with his friends who got near me, and then from behind he attacked me, threw me down, punched and kicked me in the face a bunch, and then he left and said, ‘That’s what you get for being a terrorist.’ ”
“I went to the ER, was told I have a mild concussion and a possible fracture above the eye,” said Greenman, who filed a police report.
The Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey, which released its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents on Tuesday and noted a record-breaking number of attacks in New York City, tweeted earlier this week: “We are horrified at the violence exhibited in this alleged assault against a man wearing an Israeli flag in New York while apparently observing a pro-Palestinian demonstration.”
For Greenman, who said that in the future, he won’t go to such protests alone, what stood out to him before the attack was the protestors calling for an end to a two-state solution, saying “ ‘We don’t want two states, we want ’48!’ ”
“This is the anti-Zionist rhetoric that I wanted to stand up to if I heard it,” said Greenman. “And I sure did hear it. Not everyone will be silent in the face of anti-Zionism, which is one of the most widely-accepted forms of racism in contemporary society, and that’s what I wanted to show with my own counter-protest with my flag. My face, head, and body are still healing, but it’s better than it was. If I were to ever go to another protest, I would only do it with many other people in an organized way.”