Jewish leaders and Israeli diplomats blasted the Palestinian Authority’s chief diplomat to the United Kingdom after he boasted of beating up an Israeli student when he was a graduate student in the United States, Jewish News Service (JNS) reported  Wednesday.
In a recent interview with a Lebanese television station, Manuel Hassassian said that in 1976, when he was pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toledo, he had an argument with in Israeli student who had asserted that “that falafel and hummus are Israeli foods.”
Hassassian recalled, “I said to him: ‘How dare you? You steal my land, exile my people and now you are robbing us of our folklore and national foods? You claim that it is Jewish food? It is our food, of the Palestinian people, and I will not allow this.’ I then grabbed him and gave him a beating.”
However, it is possible that Hassassian’s recollection isn’t accurate or was entirely fabricated. Meghan Cunningham, director of communications for the University of Toledo, told JNS that there are no police reports involving Hassassian from that time. A search of the student newspaper’s archive also yielded no accounts of the claimed incident.
British Jewish communal leaders blasted the envoy for his dubious boast.
“If Mr. Hassassian said the words attributed to him, it would be regrettable but not surprising,” a Board of Deputies of British Jews spokesperson said. “It daily becomes more apparent to more people that the Palestinian Authority has totally failed to lead Palestinians to a peaceful and prosperous future and this is only reflected in the quality of its representatives.”
In a similar vein, Mark Gardner, director of communications for Community Security Trust, a British organization that monitors anti-Semitism, told JNS, “Given the volatility of Israel-Palestine political debate on university campuses, anything that suggests boasting about physical violence is deeply inappropriate: and doubly so for someone in such a senior position.”
Alan Baker, Israel’s former ambassador to Canada and formerly legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told JNS, “it doesn’t surprise me that Ambassador Hassassian chooses to push what appears to be a typical example of ‘fake news.’ He knows people will believe it merely because it involves something negative against Israel.”
The former former deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, Lenny Ben David expressed his skepticism of Hassassian’s story.
[Photo: Levant TV / YouTube]