Two charged with hate crime for attack on Arab teacher outside AIPAC conference

Yosef Steynovitz of Canada and Rami Lubranicki of New Jersey accused of assault amid dueling protests outside Washington summit

WASHINGTON — Two men have been charged with a hate crime for an assault on an Arab teacher allegedly carried out by members of the Jewish Defense League outside this week’s AIPAC conference in Washington, DC.

The report released Thursday by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia listed Kamal Nayfeh as the victim.

972 Magazine, which reported Thursday on the attack, said that Nayfeh, 55, is an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. According to the North Carolina school’s website, Nayfeh has taught networking technology there for 16 years.

Nayfeh, a Palestinian-American father of four, was visiting his daughter Danya, a student at Georgetown University in Washington at the time, 972 reported.

“They beat him after they heard he was Palestinian. He was not threatening at all. It’s perfectly clear that my father was brutalized simply because of who he is,” Dayna Nayfeh said.

The alleged assailants are not named in the police report, but a police spokeswoman identified them as Yosef Steynovitz, 32, of Canada, who was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, and Rami Lubranicki, 59, of Howell, New Jersey, who was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

In both instances, “suspected hate crime” based on “anti-Arab” bias was added as a charge. Hate crimes, if added to a conviction, automatically increase penalties.

According to the police report, Nayfeh said he got into a “verbal altercation” with Steynovitz, who then punched Nayfeh “about the face area.” Nayfeh fell to the ground, according to the report, and Lubranicki kicked him in his side and hit him in the right eye with a wooden pole.

Ben White, a freelance journalist, posted a photo of Nayfeh’s injuries.

The JTA reached out through LinkedIn to Steynovitz and Lubranicki for comment on the charges; they did not reply.

In 2015, Lubranicki appeared on The Glazov Group, a conservative news channel on YouTube, as the founder of American Bikers United Against Jihad. He identified himself as an Israeli-born Jewish American.

Some 500 to 600 activists heeded a call by IfNotNow, the Jewish anti-establishment group, to protest this week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, which drew 18,000 attendees. Several dozen counterprotesters bearing T-shirts and flags identified with the Jewish Defense League also appeared, and there were several clashes between the two groups.

Meir Weinstein, who reportedly is the national director of the Canadian JDL, in a video released on Facebook said that individuals affiliated with the group acted only in self-defense. Weinstein alleged that videos of the incident were “selectively spliced.”

“We’re going to be releasing a lot more information to put everything into context,” he said.

The Jewish Defense League was founded in New York by the ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1968. In 2001 the FBI labeled it a violent “right-wing terrorist group.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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