Student Charged in Temple University Campus Assault on Jewish Student

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The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is charging 22-year-old student Abdel Aziz Jalil with simple assault.

The ongoing saga of an Aug. 20 confrontation on the Temple University campus has entered a new phase.
 
On Sept. 9, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office charged 22-year-old Abdel Aziz Jalil with simple assault and recklessly endangering another person at a campus move-in event. 
 
DA spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson wrote in an email that Jalil had “turned himself into police this afternoon and he is currently being processed by the police department.”
 
Temple spokesman Ray Betzner confirmed earlier in the day that the school had wrapped up its investigation by the end of last week and sent its findings to the DA’s office.
 
Earlier last week, the university had said that new witnesses had emerged and police were still conducting interviews about the incident, in which Jalil, a pro-Palestinian student standing near a Students for Justice in Palestine table, allegedly used anti-Semitic slurs and hit pro-Israel student Daniel Vessal in the face after an argument escalated.
 
When asked why Jalil was not charged with a hate crime, Jamerson explained that “in order for ethnic intimidation to be charged, the malicious intention toward the religion, ethnicity or race of the victim must be the motive for the commission of the underlying crime.
 
“According to the victim himself, he does not believe that he was assaulted because of religion, race or ethnicity,” Jamerson wrote. “Witnesses at the scene also expressed the same opinion, they did not believe this victim was assaulted because of religion race or ethnicity.”
 
Upon learning the news, Michael Wildes, Vessal’s lead counsel, said he would consult with his client regarding how to proceed on their end.
 
Rabbi Howard Alpert, CEO of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, said the university’s pro-Israel community at Temple “would take reassurance from this that attempts to intimidate them will not be allowed.”
 
“We’re pleased that the DA’s office took the matter seriously and is following up appropriately,” Alpert continued. “We believe that the justice system works at its own pace, works fairly.”
 
A number of Jewish leaders had called for restraint from community members who were concerned about the school’s response to the incident — the campus police did not arrest the alleged assailant — and urged patience until the investigation was complete. 
 
While not critiquing the investigation itself, others said the school should take action against Students for Justice in Palestine, which has stated that Jalil was not a member of their group and denied that its representatives used any anti-Semitic slurs. 
 
Eric Berger contributed to this report.

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