Two women face felony harassment charges for alleged anti-Semitic attack

Two women face felony harassment charges for alleged anti-Semitic attack

Boise police arrested two women Thursday night on suspicion of felony malicious harassment after a confrontation between them and a Jewish man sitting at a restaurant with his wife.

Boise to Palestine, a local pro-Palestinian movement, said on Instagram that the two were “wrongfully arrested” and were just exercising their right to free speech in a public space — not being anti-Semitic or threatening. A representative for one of the two women said in court Friday that the case was a First Amendment matter that will be fought vigorously.

However, Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said in a department news release announcing the arrests that the “hateful” behavior was unacceptable.

“Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to break laws or target individuals based on their religion, race, or identity,” Winegar said. “We take incidents involving hate bias very seriously and want to ensure everyone continues to feel safe and welcome in our community. We appreciate the actions taken by our officers to address the immediate issue and investigate this incident further.”

The two women approached the couple in front of a business near the corner of 8th and Idaho streets. The man was “wearing a Kippah or Yamaka,” a traditional head covering for Jewish men, Boise police said in the release.

The two women made comments about the ongoing conflict in the Mideast, according to the release, leading to an argument. The women walked away but returned, leading to a second interaction in which one of the women put a phone into the man’s face, hitting him in the nose, police said.

Tensions have been high nationwide over violence in the Mideast since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, and Israel responded with a massive amount of military force. There’s been a pro-Palestine protest near the Idaho Capitol along Jefferson Street since May.

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