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Developer Charged With Assault After Driving Into Pro-Palestinian Protester


A New York real estate developer has been charged after allegedly driving his car into a protester during a student-led pro-Palestinian demonstration.

Reuven Kahane of RKRE Development was arrested Tuesday morning after hitting a volunteer safety marshal for the protest, affiliated with Columbia University, according to the Associated Press. Kahane attempted to drive through a crosswalk, where demonstrators were walking, prompting the safety marshal to step out and stop the car.

“I saw her put her hands on the hood of the car trying to stop it,” Ava Garcia, one of the protesters, told the AP. “The car kept moving, and she was pushed to the hood of the car because it was accelerating. It was only when she fell to the ground that the car stopped.”

In a statement, the protest group CU Apartheid Divest said that she was a member of the “de-escalation team.” The group also accused Kahane of parking near the protestors, asking for a flier and grabbing a protester’s arm before driving around the block and returning as demonstrators were leaving the area.  

Kahane is related to Rabbi Meir Kahane, the notorious Brooklyn-born founder of the Jewish Defense League, an organization classified as a terrorist group in the U.S. The founder was assassinated in 1990.

Kahane told the AP that he has no connection to the group, instead describing his stance as “pro-peace.”

“What does my being a distant cousin of someone who passed away 35 years ago have anything to do with this?” he told the AP.

Kahane was arraigned on felony assault charges and released without bail. At the time, he wore a hoodie that read “In Jah we trust and find peace,” according to the New York Daily News.

“Oh my God,” Julie Friedkin, Kahane’s wife, told the Daily News when reached by telephone. “I’m sure it was an accident.”

The 55-year-old victim, Maryellen Novak, was also charged with criminal mischief for banging on the hood of the car. She was treated for injuries at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. Another safety volunteer was also taken into custody.

At the time, the protesters were picketing the home of Barnard trustee Francine LeFrak of the LeFrak real estate empire. The incident took place near the southwest corner of 72nd Street and Park, according to the protester's statement. 

Kahane's arrest occurred just a week after the NYPD raided Columbia University’s campus, arresting dozens of protesters.

In a 2021 post on Ami Magazine, Kahane said that he previously planned to work in business and politics in Israel before pursuing real estate in the United States. He wrote that his portfolio largely consists of multifamily units. While there is little record of his ownership in New York City, he reportedly bought and flipped a Wayne, New Jersey, retail building in 2016. He is also a rabbi.