New Jersey publication removes report justifying local official’s assault on Jerusalem resident

Video screenshot shows Teaneck, New Jersey, council member and former mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin lunging at a Jerusalem resident at al-Aqsa mosque.

The website NorthJersey.com published and then deleted without explanation an article spinning the Jerusalem incident involving former Teaneck mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin.

The Electronic Intifada has learned that the NorthJersey.com article, heavily favorable to Hameeduddin, was deleted because it relied on “hearsay.”

As The Electronic Intifada reported, Hameeduddin, who remains an elected council member in the northern New Jersey city of 40,000, assaulted the Jerusalem resident who uses the pseudonym Zalameh on Monday night on the grounds of the al-Aqsa mosque in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem.

NorthJersey.com is owned by the North Jersey Media Group, which publishes several newspapers and describes itself as “the leading provider of news and marketing services in northern New Jersey.”

Favorable spin

The deleted article provides an account favorable to Hameeduddin and dismisses The Electronic Intifada’s reporting. It begins:

Township Councilman Mohammed Hameeduddin was involved in a confrontation with a pro-Palestinian activist as he visited the Al-Aqsa mosque — Islam’s third holiest site, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City — on Monday night.

A partisan website later accused him of assaulting the activist. But Hameeduddin’s correspondence back home, and that of a woman first approached by the activist, describe a scene in which the man provoked the incident and falsely claimed he was being assaulted.

Hameeduddin, the township’s former mayor and Teaneck’s first Muslim to serve in that capacity, is in Israel on a 10-day trip sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI). The group encourages coexistence between Muslims and Jews and aims to explore the religious, political and socioeconomic issues facing Israelis and Palestinians.

The incident was said by participants to have involved an activist with the Palestinian Boycott Divestment & Sanctions [BDS] movement, a drive to persuade companies to divest themselves of doing business with Israel, thereby isolating it economically and culturally.

Hameeduddin subsequently told fellow council members that, as he was trying to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, the activist approached a woman in the Hartman group and tried to film her while asking her questions. The stranger also announced that the group was here “against the will of the Palestinian people” and that it is “Islamphobic” [sic].

Hameeduddin demanded that the activist stop harassing the woman and covered his camera with his hand.

An article was subsequently written on “The Electronic Intifada,” an independent online publication with a pro-Palestinian viewpoint, claiming Hameeduddin “assaulted” and “battered” the man, a resident of Jerusalem.

Mohammed Hameeduddin (via Facebook)

Yellin’s report also provides this testimonial in which one of Hameeduddin’s town council colleagues justifies the assault:

Colleagues and friends of Hameeduddin — known in Teaneck among Jews and Muslims as a unifying figure who receives strong support from the Orthodox Jewish community — are defending him against what one termed the “wild accusations.”

Councilman Mark Schwartz, who spoke to Hameeduddin early Wednesday morning by phone, said Hameeduddin related that “‘BDS bullies were waiting to ambush me while I was going to prayers.’ “ He said he did not hit anyone but was “protecting the women in my group,” said Schwartz, characterizing Hameeduddin as a peacemaker more than a fighter. Schwartz praised his colleague for stepping in to help the woman being confronted by the activist. “There was no physical confrontation,” he said.

An archived version of Yellin’s article can be seen here.

Videos

Yellin also claims that “Two videos accompanying the website article do not show Hameeduddin engaging in any physical confrontation.”

However the videos, which are included once again below, do indeed show such an assault as any reasonable viewer would conclude.

In the first, Zalameh is speaking calmly with Amanda Quraishi and others when an agitated Hameeduddin approaches Zalameh and can be heard striking him or his camera before the video shuts off. Hameeduddin assaulted Zalameh before Zalameh had a chance to get out more than a few words. Hameeduddin’s actions may amount to assault and battery.

Zalameh’s statements about the Islamophobic backing for the Hartman institute came only later and can be heard in the second video.

Hameeduddin and Quraishi, a Texas blogger, were there with a group of participants in the “Muslim Leadership Initiative,” a junket sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute.

The Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute receives millions of dollars from extreme anti-Muslim donors and is a major contractor to the Israeli military. It is also involved in Israeli government efforts to undermine the Palestine solidarity movement.

The Israeli-backed junkets, which have been criticized as “faithwashing,” are generating broad and growing opposition among North American Muslim organizations and the Palestine solidarity community.

The second video shows another person who has yet to be identified accosting Zalameh in an attempt to stop him filming.

Protecting the “sisters”

Yellin also quoted a blog post by Quraishi which tried to spin the incident as one in which Hameeduddin was defending her and other women from harassment.

“Amanda D. Quraishi, a technology professional from Texas who is part of the Hartman group and described herself as an American Muslim, wrote on her blog that the incident began when the man approached,  pointed a phone camera at her and asked her a lot of personal questions,” Yellin’s report claimed.

But the first video above shows this is false. As noted, Zalameh barely had time to speak before he was attacked by Hameeduddin.

Nonetheless, Quraishi wrote that she was grateful that Zalameh had been assaulted and justified the use of violence:

I was alarmed and my immediate response was ‘Who are you?’ I try not to go around handing out personal information to strange men when traveling abroad. In my unnerved state, I was grateful that one of my fellow cohorts, Mohammed, came up and covered the phone camera in my defense, telling him to put the camera away and not to film the sisters. At that point the young man started exclaiming loudly, ‘Why are you being violent?’ and making a ruckus as if he were being attacked. There was no violence unless you count someone pushing a stranger’s camera away from a woman who doesn’t want to be filmed as a violent act. He was absolutely not hit or punched by anyone.

In his account given to The Electronic Intifada, Zalameh states: “one of the MLI participants charged immediately against me on the grounds of al-Aqsa where we were, just like the Israelis regularly do to us. He punched me and tried to grab my camera and successfully turned it off. He kept pushing as I pleaded with him to stop. It only ended when one of his colleagues intervened.”

Report deleted

Within hours of Yellin’s report being published at NorthJersey.com, it was removed without explanation.

The Electronic Intifada spoke to reporter Deena Yellin by telephone this morning. Yellin said the report had been removed because it “relied on hearsay.”

“We didn’t want to rely on second or third hand sources,” she said, “we’re a reputable publication.” When questioned about who had provided the information, Yellin became defensive.

Only after she had volunteered her account, Yellin demanded retroactively that the conversation be placed off the record.

“You know what, none of this is for attribution,” Yellin said, and hung up the phone.

Yellin, an experienced staff writer for The Bergen County Record, also writes for the pro-Israel advocacy website Times of Israel.

Yellin had earlier tweeted out the now deleted article.

Hameeduddin and Quraishi have not responded to invitations to speak to The Electronic Intifada. NorthJersey.com editor Martin Gottlieb did not return a call left with a staffer by publication time.

Update: Just after this post was published, NorthJersey.com editor Stephen McCarthy told The Electronic Intifada that the report had been pulled as his publication had not spoken to any direct witnesses. He said his publication intended to do more reporting.

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Comments

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You put the entire video out there, before they did, so once again, they look silly with their claims about your reputable publication. Thanks again, for giving the world the truth, and look for another donation around March. Your work is so important to me.
Jane Zacher

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In the United States we are "celebrating" (an inappropriate word) the life and
contributions of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a (non-Christian) follower
of Dr. King fifty years ago, I suppose that his work would be termed "militant",
in Israel "incitement against the State". Would he have been attacked? Arrested? Jailed? Considered "treasonous"? Then the mainstream must have felt confronted.

The pictures from that era (which in fact accomplished much but not as much as
in our mythical liberal dreams) show demonstrators in the streets ...and yet
King was often not welcome in many places. Chicago's Mayor-Boss(R. Daley) told representatives of the President to "get that (expletive) out of town!" It was
done. King's career met with hostility near its end. It should be noted that
there were many more "militant" organizations than Kings' a few of which I was also a member.

We were fighting..FIGHTING... for social justice.

Had we been Palestinian, we would have been opposed as "terrorists",
jailed, homes appropriated, thousands murdered. For "security". Our criminal
opponents would have received all the support, military and diplomatic,
they needed from the USA.

The hypocrisy is astounding. The enthusiasm for declaring one group "our
allies" who murder their opponents is chilling to say the very least.

Although I marched in Mississippi behind Dr. King, I never "celebrate"
the US sham national holiday. It is meaningless. There is too far to
go both in the USA in communities of color and in Palestine.

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Thanks. I am 44 and do not care who is looking at this, and live in Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.A.. Although too young to remember why, the administration, that ran Philly, during the 1960's and early 1970's, used to call the hippies, "white expletive". Whenever I question the racists actions of the police, both past and present, by showing up for lectures or rallies, I am called that name. I'll take it. Whenever I am videotaped by our local p.d.'s new "Counter Terrorism Unit" at protests concerning both our countries and Israel's inhuman treatment of the Palestinians, I will take it too. I refuse to look away and do nothing. When I see strange charges on my bank account after sending financial aid to Palestinian causes, specifically medical treatment for wounded children, I will take it too. AND I'M GONNA KEEP ON DOING WHAT I DO, AND TAKE WHATEVER THE EVILS OF THIS WORLD WANT TO DO TO ME. I WILL NOT AND REFUSE TO BACK DOWN. The only reason why I volunteer on 1/19, is because for just a few hours, it gives me hope for humanity. I live in the mostly lower-income as well as black neighborhoods by choice, and clean up a local school and church. Those few hours of working side by side with others to improve our community, gives me a connection, like I am part of a thread. I agree, the U.S. has sullied Dr. King's legacy. However, this news source and it's forum, have strengthened my connection to human beings, like yourself, that always give me the hard facts, concerning our country's actions. Thank-you,
Jane Zacher

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When will the old Zionist myth of 'self protection' die out already? Zionists justify all their actions of violence by claiming they are doing it out of self protection. Not just the government, but all of its citizens, too. Why? No one buys into this myth anymore.

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what's funny is that during all the years I've attended demos on campuses, the zionists are always in your face with cameras, sometimes yelling obsenities, other times making violent threats, and occasionally grabbing something. They get so angry, they are popping veins! Then they go complain about it when someone films them. of course.

The sad thing is that the zionist org running these trips to Israel has the goal of dividing the US Muslim population, to turn them against BDS, and at least in this case, it worked.

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That's nothing! I live in a corporate college city, called Philadelphia, Pa. It's usually the Z.B.T. fraternities, with their bad and public track record, of treating woman badly. Last Spring, a group of them showed up from Penn and I stopped them from getting close to one of our protests. Luckily, I was right behind them, and my street instict of 44 years, took over. These idiots were telling each other, to get in in the women's faces first, because then the men would jump in. I got right in their faces, and let them have it! I used some words, that I will spare the readers, but also told them, that 15 years ago in my wild days, they drank beer during Passover, and if they would like me to have everyone Google the story from 1989, concerning the horrible treatment, of an exotic dancer at one of their parties, I will. Then I told them to get the "expletive" off my campus. They did. But at another rally, in support of a teacher who got fired, a small weazly looking kid, went up to a big cop, and ordered him to make a guy holding a sign saying temple is looking like a Zionist mafia down. As a jew, I got in his face too, and actually blacked out, when he said that he was a special operative for Sharon, and that Palestinians are killing Jews. All I could see, were the horrors of that unit, and was videotaping our interaction. When I looked at the video later, he said I didn't know what I was talking about. I showed him my Star of David, said shame and spat at his feet. In their minds, it makes sense, because as American jews, we are indoctrinated into believing the myth. After visiting the Occupied area in 1985, and seeing how my own people treat Palestinians, worse than the Nazis treated us, I started to have questions. I listened to my heart, and it told me to stand on the right side of history. I pray these confused jews can do the same.
Peace,
Jane Zacher

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Here is a link to the Record's January 19, 2015 story on the matter.

http://www.northjersey.com/new...

The late Russel Berrie made his money importing toys (Troll dolls were his earliest big sellers) from China. Besides some pretty retrograde foundations he has given a lot of money to Englewood Hospital, Hackensack Hospital and Ramapo College.

He was a New Jersey version of Sheldon Adelson.

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I bring to your attention that the Record which is the North Jersey daily newspaper has quoted me on the matter of MLI and the article is till online here: http://www.northjersey.com/new...
I know both article writers and most of the Editors and would disagree with your conspiracy theory suggestions that may explain the deletion of article.

Ali Abunimah's picture

Dear Dr. Assaf, the article in which you are quoted came only after EI drew attention to the earlier article which was in fact deleted.

Its deletion is not a “conspiracy theory” but a fact. The article in which you are quoted is a different article to the one which was deleted. The reasons it was deleted are stated in my article above, citing the editors of NorthJersey.com, with whom I spoke.

And for the record, I am also quoted, along with you, in the new article.