Arizona State University scholar on leave after confrontation with woman at pro-Israel rally

May 9, 2024, 10:54 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State University officials say a postdoctoral research scholar remains on leave as the school investigates his videotaped confrontation with a hijab-wearing woman at a pro-Israel rally last weekend.

Sunday’s event was held near the university’s Tempe campus and attended by Jonathan Yudelman, a scholar at ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Yudelman was identified on multiple social media platforms as being in a brief cellphone video that shows him arguing and cursing at the unidentified woman who appeared to be a Muslim wearing a tan-colored head scarf.

“I’m literally in your face. That’s right,” Yudelman tells the woman, who is seen in the video backing away as he repeatedly advances toward her.

After the woman tells Yudelman that he’s disrespecting her religious boundaries, he replies “you disrespect my sense of humanity” and adds a profanity.

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for the university to fire Yudelman.

A statement posted Wednesday on the school’s media relations webpage said Yudelman was placed on leave Monday pending the outcome of an investigation into the video. It also said he’s not permitted to go on campus, teach classes or interact with students or employees.

“The current investigation is being conducted consistent with the university’s procedures for employee discipline,” the statement added. “Arizona State University protects freedom of speech and expression but does not tolerate threatening or violent behavior. While peaceful protest is welcome, all incidents of violent or threatening behavior will be addressed.”

University officials said they referred the matter to the Tempe Police Department for a criminal investigation since it took place on a city sidewalk.

Yudelman hasn’t replied to several emails this week seeking comment on his situation.

He was interviewed by Phoenix television station KPNX before the confrontation and decried what he described as “Jewish students being intimidated.”

In the interview, Yudelman also described pro-Palestinian protests at universities across the country as “campuses being taken over by supporters of terrorism.”

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Arizona State University scholar on leave after confrontation with woman at pro-Israel rally