Who is Sahar Tartak? Jewish Yale student who claims she was stabbed in the eye with Palestine flag amid protests - Hindustan Times
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Who is Sahar Tartak? Jewish Yale student who claims she was stabbed in the eye with Palestine flag amid protests

Apr 22, 2024 12:15 PM IST

Jewish Yale student journalist Sahar Tartak claimed in her op-ed piece that demonstrators allegedly blockaded her as she attempted to chase after the person.

Sahar Tartak, a Jewish Yale University student journalist, was allegedly stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag while reporting on an anti-Israel protest on campus grounds Saturday night.

Sahar Tartak is a Yale University student journalist of the Jewish faith.(LinkedIn)
Sahar Tartak is a Yale University student journalist of the Jewish faith.(LinkedIn)

The editor-in-chief of the Yale Free Press claimed that she'd been stabbed in the eye in her op-ed, titled “I Was Stabbed in the Eye at Yale” on April 22. She also took to her X/Twitter profile to share the purported heart-rending news of the incident. She wrote, “After I was stabbed in my eye by a protestor at a Yale rally, organisers blockaded me from running after my assaulter. Instead of helping me find him swiftly, one organiser told me: ‘I want you to think about what do you really want to get out of this.’”

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Her X/Twitter videos (linked below) addressing these claims went viral on social media. Many rose to her support and condemned the supposed attack she'd been subjected to on campus grounds. However, since her alleged claims of “anti-Semitic” attacks on Jewish students came to light, new footage documenting the said incident started doing rounds on the Internet. Distinctly divided concerns sparked a new debate altogether, with several questions being raised about what really happened.

With hundreds of students camping at the Ivy League campus in the wake of heated demonstrations in support of Palestinians, Tartak and her friend - wearing Hasidic Jewish attire - were blockaded, and their filming was also reportedly interrupted.

Addressing the scene at the time, Tartak told the New York Post how hundreds of protestors were “taunting” and “waving the middle finger” at her until a person waving a Palestinian flag in her face jabbed it in her eye.

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Reportedly, the university's guidelines don't permit demonstrators to block access to entrances, who are deemed trespassers if they fail to comply with instructions to leave. Yale has claimed that it won't tolerate any violence on the campus, and its police department is investigating the attack.

However, Tartak addressed the school's inactivity in stepping up to crack down on the weekend protest, making for another incident where protestors have shut off building entrances.

Who is Sahar Tartak?

Currently a sophomore, Tartak's LinkedIn profile suggests that she's been enrolled at Yale University since September 2022 and is majoring in History. Before her Yale career, Sahar attended Great Neck North High School.

While her personal details are unknown, she's been associated with the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism. Her other involvements include serving as an English Second Language Tutor at Israel Connect for four years and counting. Some of her published articles have also made it to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Free Beacon, and American Battlefield Trust.

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Sahar Tartak published a personal piece, opening up about being allegedly assaulted on campus grounds amid demonstrations, on The Free Press. Claiming that she “paid the price” for the university's “inaction," she opened her article with the statement, “I was stabbed in the eye last night on Yale University’s campus because I am a Jew.”

She also added that while other reporters from the Yale Daily News were on the scene reporting, only she and her friend were “walled off” due to their “visibly Jewish” attire. “I should say here that I am a visibly observant Jew who wears a large Star of David around my neck and dresses modestly,” wrote Tartak, while mentioning that her friend is also “identifiably Jewish” with his "beard, black hat and tzitzit."

-------- Original article ends (April 22)--------

Updated on Sunday, May 5 (IST)

Sahar Tartak's reports of “anti-semitic” violence debunked?

Soon after Tartak's remarks moved Western media outlets and became the talk of the town, and eventually mainstream focus, the Internet went digging. Antithetical assertions emerged online as the video footage documenting the alleged “eye-stabbing” incident came into the picture.

Incompatible with mentions of how pro-Palestinian demonstrators “pointed their middle fingers at” her (per the April 22 article on The Free Press), the video recording of the day of the protests painted a slightly different picture. A group of protesters, linking arms, are seen peacefully moving past her in a queue as the anti-Israel gathering proclaims, “Divest. We will not stop. We will not rest…”

The protesters are not initially seen violently approaching Tartak in this particular video. Although some people are spotted waving their hands and sticking up the V-sign gesture at the camera, no such purported brutal outbreak is captured on camera therein. Additionally, no anti-Semitic claims are heard on camera in this clip, only cries of protesters demanding authorities to divest from Israeli connections are at the focus of this demonstration.

As for what happened at the scene, the video, posted on X/Twitter by user Matt Orfalea (@0rf) ultimately captures the moment when a Palestinian flag-bearing protester passes by Tartak (presumbaly behind the camera). The video, shot from Tartak's perspective presents a limited scope and only grants us the view at the Palestinian flag being waved near the camera, and possibly Tartak's face. While the actual “eye-stabbing” moment doesn't make it into the video, it abruptly cuts off with the final focus on her cries about possibly being injured by the action, “Ow ow, you stabbed…”

Moreover, just a day after the supposed incident in question, Tartak came up for several interviews with leading US media outlets, including, the New York Post, Fox News and CBS New York. Despite the Jewish Yale student journalist's claims of the pro-Palestinian protester jabbing the flag in her eye, no such signs of an eye injury were noticed in her appearances.

While what really happened after the video footage was cut off remains buried under mystery and disparate speculations, Axios.com previously drove the attention to the reported surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the US by 361% after the October 7 Hamas attack.

Jonathan Grenblatt, ADL CEO, said: “The American Jewish community is facing a threat level that’s now unprecedented in modern history. It’s shocking that we’ve recorded more antisemitic acts in three months than we usually would in an entire year.” The source reported rising incidents of physical assault, vandalism, verbal or written harrassment and “rallies, including antisemitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terrorism against the state of Israel and/or anti-Zionism.”

Sahar Tartak's purported history of fabrication

In addition to speaking on the supposed violent assault on campus grounds, Tartak shared another case of “anti-Semitic” action taken by Yale University in December 2023 on social media.

On December 12, 2023 (IST), she tweeted: "At Yale, the years-old, popular "Israeli couscous salad with spinach and tomatoes," has been renamed in our dining halls as the same exact dish but without the word "Israeli.""

Her claims once again came under heavy scrutiny back then. The unreliability of her tweet was underscored in a follow-up reply by user @ViktorKagan, who quote-tweeted her original post with a picture from the Yale Dining Hall, “taken minutes ago.” Therein, the X/Twitter user, accentuated on the retention of the name “Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach and Tomatoes.”

Sitting down for an interview with Fox News, Tartak went on to explain the meaning of the “watermelon” symbol pro-Palestinian protesters have thus far used in their demonstrations. She claimed it to be another “symbol… against the Jewish people, like all the other symbols these students are using in favour of violent, terroristic acts against Jews.”

However, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have merely been collectively using watermelon images as a symbol of communication of their solidarity with the Palestinian cause because the fruit's colours represent the Palestine flag.

Another Jewish student addresses concerns of “anti-Semitism” on Campus

As opposed to Tartak's previous claims, just days after the news of her purported “attack” made headlines, an interview with another Jewish student became the central focus of the debate.

Contrary to the declarations of the Yale University student, Jared Kannel, A Jewish student partaking in the Gaza encampment at Columbia Univeristy, shared his take on the matter with TRT World. While Tartak asserted that the supposed attack on her targetted her Jewish identity, Kannel addressed these concerns of anti-semitism differently.

Implying that he felt a “100% safe” on the universtiy grounds, he added that US officials were emerely using “anti-semitism” as a guise to swerve from discussions around Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip in Palestine. His response to the “anti-semitism on campus” emerged on April 23 from New York.

In his conversation with TRT World, he said, “I'm a Jewish student at Columbia. When we talk about anti-Semitism on campus, that's taking the spotlight away from Gaza, away from Palestine and Palestinian students on campus, and putting it back onto me. I am perfectly safe here. And this has all been a distraction because they dont' want us talking about the nonstop massacre of Gaza, of Palestinian civilians…” Read more about his perspective shift around the Palestine-Israel conflict here.

 

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