Suspect nabbed for throwing rock that hit Columbia University pro-Israel protester in face

NEW YORK — A suspect has been arrested for hurling a rock that hit a pro-Israeli protester in the face outside Columbia University in April as two other activists ripped an Israeli flag from the victim’s grasp and set it on fire, cops said Thursday.

Zuhdi Ahmed, 20, of Ossining, N.Y. is facing hate crime assault and other hate crime charges for the April 20 attack as pro-Palestinian protesters pitched a tent city and held protests on campus.

Victim Jonathan Lederer wrote in a first-person account for the Free Press website that he and his friends held a pro-Israeli counterrally by the sundial on campus. The protest, he wrote, was a “much-needed ode to the hope and perseverance to the Jewish people in the face of enemies who seek our destruction.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters chased Lederer out of the campus. Once they were out on the street, one of the pro-Gaza protesters snatched the Israeli flag Lederer was carrying.

Lederer was chasing the thief when Ahmed allegedly threw the rock at him, striking him in the face.

The flag was handed off to another man in the crowd, who set it on fire, police said.

On May 1, James Carlson, 40, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, was arrested on criminal mischief and arson charges for allegedly being caught on video setting the flag on fire.

Carlson was released without bail and is due to answer the charges in Manhattan Criminal Court later this month.

A third man is still being sought, police said.

Ahmed’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court was pending Thursday.

There have been a steady stream of protests in the city and across the nation since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a ferocious war in Gaza.

The pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Columbia ended on April 30, when, after protesters took over Hamilton Hall, cops in riot gear descended on the building, arresting more than 100 protesters.

Early Wednesday pro-Palestinian protesters vandalized the homes of Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak and several Jewish board members. The NYPD has labeled the vandalism a hate crime and Mayor Adams and Gov. Hocul were quick to denounce the activists involved, who have not been caught.