Second Canadian charged in AIPAC beating

Kamal Nayfeh in hospital after the assault. (INSTITUTE MIDDLE EAST UNDERSTANDING PHOTO)

A second Canadian has been indicted on assault charges in the beating of a Palestinian-American man at last year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C.

Brandon David William Vaughan, 23, of Ottawa, was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in the District of Columbia on April 11, on a charge of assault with significant bodily injury while armed.

The charge carries a hate enhancement that permits the court to increase the penalty if Vaughan is convicted.

The indictment alleges that Vaughan beat Kamal Nayfeh, a 55-year-old Palestinian-American community college teacher from North Carolina who was reportedly walking near the AIPAC conference with his daughter when the attack took place in March 2017.

According to the indictment, which was obtained by The CJN, Vaughan was armed with “readily available dangerous and deadly weapons” – a shoe and a pole – which he allegedly used to attack Nayfeh.


Widely circulated videos of the attack show Nayfeh being beaten with fists, kicked and attacked with the end of a flagpole.

He was taken to hospital, where he received several stitches around his eye and was treated for cuts and bruises.

The incident “demonstrated the prejudice” of Vaughan based on “the actual or perceived race, colour or national origin of Kamal Nayfeh,” the indictment states.

Charged in the same attack is Yosef Steynovitz, a 32-year-old Thornhill, Ont., resident and member of the Jewish Defence League.

Steynovitz faces three assault-related charges stemming from the brawl and pleaded not guilty in a Washington court in February. He’s charged with the beating of Nayfeh, for which he also faces a hate crimes enhancement, as well as with assaulting two other men.

I am absolutely staggered that Jews would ever make common cause with Nazis.
– Bernie Farber

Vaughan is well-known in nationalist and anti-Muslim circles. He describes himself on his Facebook page as “Proud Christian-Proud Loyalist-Proud Canadian-Proud Zionist-Proud British.” He also shows his support for such far-right groups as La Meute, the Northern Guard, the Jewish Defence League and Proud Boys.

He attended the Rally Against Hijab Hoax on Parliament Hill on Feb. 18, at which protesters clashed with anti-fascists. A photograph taken at the rally show two RCMP officers holding Vaughan, face down, on the ground.

Vaughan was arrested and received a trespass notice banning him from the parliamentary precinct for 60 days, a spokesperson for the Parliamentary Protective Service told The CJN.

Vaughan was also present at a rally in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square last October, at which members of far-right groups clashed with counter-protesters.

Reached by The CJN, Vaughan at first denied being the person named in the indictment. He then wanted to know how The CJN obtained the document.

Vaughan’s pro-Jewish leanings seem to reflect the growing phenomenon of white nationalists and neo-Nazis aligning with some Jews on the right.

“I am absolutely staggered that Jews would ever make common cause with Nazis,” said Bernie Farber, founding chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Foundation and a former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress.

“In my view, there can never ever be a reason for any Jewish group to join hands with those whose philosophy was, and continues to be, the elimination of our people.… It’s shameful.”

Both Vaughan and Steynovitz remain free pending future court dates and hearings.