Israeli family demands hate charges after teen girl brutally attacked in Fredericton
Israeli family demands hate charges after teen girl brutally attacked in Fredericton

An Israeli family is outraged after a girl was savagely attacked in what they are calling an incident of antisemitic hate. 

A 14-year-old Israeli student named Shaked Tsurkan was brutally attacked near her Fredericton school, Leo Hayes High School, on Apr. 30, 2024. Her father deemed the attack as “not just a simple fight” but an “antisemitic attack.” 

The attack, which took place during the lunch hour, was captured on video by other classmates who gathered to watch.

The video shows Tsurkan being jumped from behind by a fellow student, thrown to the ground, and repeatedly punched. The attacker, identified by Tsurkan as an older female Muslim student, was wearing a pink hoodie that Tsurkan said allegedly hid her hijab.

During the attack, the person recording the video, likely a student, said, “This can’t be within the religion guidelines.”

Tsurkan and her parents were interviewed on the Canadian Jewish News daily podcast.

“We are here in Canada. It doesn’t matter what’s going on there, like, we’re here. We are teenagers. We should just have fun. It’s not our fault, what’s going on,” Tsurkan told interviewer Ellin Bessner.

The 14-year-old moved to New Brunswick a year and a half ago from Israel. The attack occurred after months of being targeted for being Israeli after she started grade nine at Leo Hayes High School in Sep. 2023, just weeks before Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Tsurkan’s attack left her with two black eyes, multiple cuts, scratches, and bruises, and possibly a concussion.

During the Canadian Jewish News interview, Tsurkan’s mother, Michal, spoke about the strength it took for her daughter to recount the event.

“It requires a lot of strength because of the blows that she suffered. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was like boxing blows when I took her to the clinic a few days later because her eyes were swollen. Now the bruises around her eyes are all different colours,” her mother said.

The 14-year-old said she was given safety instructions to follow when she returned to school. She was told to use the teacher’s washroom, never to walk alone, and never to leave the building during the day. She said that the attacker was suspended for five days.  

“We came because we wanted a better life for our children — to learn English, to see the world, and to live without safe rooms. It was a big dream,” said Michal.

Tsurkan said she only knows one other Jewish student in her school. She feels safe much of the time, thanks to her best friend being Muslim, dissuading others from doing anything when they are together.

The 14-year-old student was headed to the gas station with her boyfriend, not her best friend, to get a drink when the other student attacked her. Tsurkan tried to de-escalate and disengage. The student who attacked Tsurkan was allegedly yelling things at her, “I’ll find you in the washroom. I will do this and this to you. I will kill you,” she allegedly said.

While the other student was yelling at Tsurkan, one of the attacker’s friends allegedly tried to run Tsurkan over with his car. She jumped to the side, and the attack began shortly afterwards.

“I want the school to understand that it’s not okay because they are saying it was my fault that I went outside, and I should not have gone outside. They are blaming me about what happened,” said Tsurkan.

“It’s not my fault what’s happening right now in Gaza,” she added.

Tsurkan said that this isn’t a personal “beef” but that she thinks the other student is blaming her for the Israel-Palestine conflict as she knows that she is from Israel.

“I feel like she took it as revenge for what’s going on. She’s really pro-Palestinian. And I never said anything about what’s going on,” said Tsurkan.

The child’s mother said that the school is making this out to have nothing to do with antisemitism, claiming it to be a “run-of-the-mill high school dispute.” 

“The school doesn’t want problems. They want everything to be kept quiet. Maybe they’re afraid of the larger Arab population who would cause problems. They don’t want us to talk about it. They want us to drop it. But we won’t stay quiet. We can’t. We don’t accept it,” said Michal.

Tsurkan’s father, Eli, said he’s not seeking punishment but a solution.  

“It’s not a simple fight. This is some problem about racism. And, in general, it’s (an) antisemitic attack, not just a simple fight between students. If it was, I wouldn’t be so worried,” he said.

During the video of the attack, an adult stood idly by watching it occur. After nearly a minute of Tsurkan being pummelled on the ground, he finally stepped in and said, “That’s enough.”

He turned to the victim—Tsurkan—and asked, “Were you assaulting her?” He asked this despite Tsurkan spending most of the time on her back in a primarily defensive position.

“The reaction by the teacher at the end of this video is revolting. I can’t vouch for any other claims made here but an adult reacting like that is shameful,” said Brian Lilley of the Toronto Sun.

Ellin Bessner, host of the CJN podcast, said that Fredericton’s Jewish community is saying the incident should be deemed an antisemitic hate crime by the school and the police.

The Fredericton Police said their Major Crime Unit is investigating the matter, working closely with all parties involved. The police are unable to discuss anything further, given the active investigation. 

The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been pressed as of Wednesday.

True North reached out to Leo Hayes High School but received no reply.

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