Freelance journalist Talia Ben-Ora, who also publishes under the name Talia Jane, was assaulted, harassed and her press credentials briefly stolen while reporting on a pro-Israel rally in New York, New York, on Oct. 8, 2023.
Ben-Ora told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she was documenting two rallies in Manhattan. After filming and publishing excerpts from a pro-Palestinian rally, she said she headed to a rally in support of Israel rally that was scheduled for later in the day.
Within minutes of arriving at the demonstration, Ben-Ora said she was recognized by two men who began harassing her, calling her “bitch,” “cunt” and “terrorist.” One of the men also deliberately tripped her, she said.
While some individuals tried to stop the harassment, the men drew supporters by claiming that Ben-Ora supports Hamas, the extremist organization that had launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, citing her coverage of the pro-Palestine rally earlier that day. Ben-Ora called the assertions “heinous slander,” and a deliberate attempt to provoke the crowd to violence.
Ben-Ora said that New York Police Department officers intervened and ushered her toward the rally crowd, where she attempted to conduct interviews. The individuals harassing her followed, however, and officers told her that she needed to leave the area and escorted her up the block.
In footage Ben-Ora captured while walking away from the demonstrations, multiple individuals can be seen shouting at her to leave as officers attempted to keep them away from her.
“I didn’t feel like the NYPD that had responded was successfully keeping anybody away from me,” Ben-Ora said. “So I was walking backward to make sure that no one ran up and tried to do anything.”
Amid the chaos, a woman grabbed Ben-Ora’s press credentials out of her hand and walked away with them, but an officer was quickly able to retrieve them, she said. Ben-Ora continued to walk away from the demonstration, but shortly after she got on a nearby sidewalk, she was once again surrounded.
In her footage, the group can be seen shouting at and filming Ben-Ora and a woman appears to repeatedly smack her cellphone, attempting to rip a cord from it or knock it from Ben-Ora’s hands.
A portable charger and its attached cord fell out of her pocket, Ben-Ora said, and when she attempted to retrieve them the individuals stomped and stood on them. She told the Tracker she was able to eventually pick up the items and leave the area after police officers intervened. The items still work, she said, but sections of the protective coating of the cord were scrapped off.
“I was there to actually try and report on both sides of the story and I was prevented from doing that,” she said.