Teen says she was attacked at New Brunswick school for being Jewish

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A 14-year-old Israeli girl attending a high school in New Brunswick has told Canadian Jewish News that she was assaulted last month by another student for being Jewish.

Shaked Tsurkan said she was attacked by an older female schoolmate at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. The alleged assault occurred during lunch hours at a parking lot away from school grounds.

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A video of the alleged assault posted on social media shows a female student running up to Tsurkan from behind, dragging her to the ground and punching her repeatedly in front of several bystanders. The two get into a scuffle until an adult comes over after about a minute and breaks up the fight.

Tsurkan was left with black eyes and multiple cuts, scratches and bruises.

Tsurkan said the assailant was suspended from school for five days. When the student returned, Tsurkan was advised to use the teacher’s washroom, to stay inside the school building during the day and not to walk alone, she said.

“I want the school to know (what happened is) not OK,” she said. “(The school) is still saying it’s my fault that I went outside.”

“They’re blaming me about what happened,” she added.

Tsurkan moved to Fredericton from Israel in Nov. 2022 with her family and began Grade 9 a few weeks before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

She said her alleged attacker treated her in a hostile manner for two months, which culminated in the attack on April 30. Tsurkan said she was trying to avoid a confrontation with the older student that day, but as she away from her, she was accosted and threatened by the student.

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A man in a silver car also tried to ram Tsurkan and her boyfriend before the attack, forcing them to “jump to the side,” she said.

“We are aware of an act of violence that occurred among a small number of students from Leo Hayes High School,” Anglophone School District West spokesperson Paul MacIntosh told the National Post. He said the school administration took the incident very seriously and responded in an appropriate manner, which included calling on the local police force for support.

MacIntosh said he was not able to share additional details to protect the privacy of the students.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Fredericton Police Force said they are aware of the incident and their “Major Crime Unit is currently conducting an active investigation into the matter.”

Meanwhile, Tsurkan’s father Eli is looking for evidence around the parking lot to help the police investigation, which he said is not moving fast enough. He also said he’s not looking for anyone to be punished but would like to help his daughter out and others in a similar position.

“I’m not looking for punishment. I’m not looking for to be famous … to be interviewed or on TV,” he told the Canadian Jewish News Daily podcast. “I want a solution, a practical solution so my girl and other students can study in safe environment.”

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