Nick Bergamini, 22, says he believes he and his roommate Mark Klibanov were targeted for their political and religious beliefs when they were confronted by a group of men outside a Gatineau bar early Monday morning.
"We were just walking, minding our business and they said ‘Zionists' and they went after us because of our political beliefs and his religion," Bergamini told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday.
During the confrontation, Bergamini was punched in the back of the head. As the pair walked along Promenade du Portage towards Ottawa, they were harassed by the same group again. This time the men were allegedly armed with a machete.
"The guy opened up the window and said, ‘I'm the one who hit you, you effing Jew,'" Bergamini recalled. "They got out and kind of charged at my roommate, backed off and I heard ‘open the trunk,' so I looked right at the trunk to see what was coming out and I saw a big machete."
The pair ran and managed to escape unharmed.
Other reports say that attackers threw the machete at the pair, transitioning this from assault to attempted murder. The Canadian Jewish community, for its part, sees this sort of attack as being directly correlated with increased demonization of Israel in certain academic communities:
Len Rudner, director of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said being a Jew or Zionist in Canada should not prompt such an attack.
"Maybe we should consider the impact that words can have in accelerating the argument to the point where people feel that this kind of behaviour is acceptable," Rudner said.
"If you permit a constant invective and demonization of the Jewish state and people who support the Jewish state, some people will feel that this gives them the permission or responsibility to carry out this kind of attack."
Canadian police are investigating the incident.