By: Eli Frishman | Features  | 

Zachary Greenberg: Liberal Activist or Prospective Resident Advisor?

On Feb. 24, Zachary Greenberg (SSSB ‘21) was finishing up his Resident Advisor (RA) application. Unlike previous years, the 2019 RA application required prospective applicants to make a video of themselves describing their qualifications for the job. Greenberg finished his video and uploaded it to YouTube that night. As expected, the video didn’t garner very many views.

On Motzei Shabbos, March 2, Greenberg opened up his phone to find 20 email notifications informing him of comments that people had made on his video. Aside from his immediate family and those responsible for hiring RAs, no one else was aware that Greenberg had uploaded the video to YouTube. Upon viewing the comments, Greenberg was shocked to find comments identifying him as a “puncher” and a “terrorist.” A particular comment mentioned a punching-attack occurring at the University of Berkeley. After running a few Google searches, Greenberg was horrified to find out that he himself — or someone with an identical name — was the perpetrator.

On Feb. 19, a video was released of a man attacking Hayden Williams, a pro-Trump activist who was manning a table for a conservative campus recruiting organization called Turning Point USA at the University of Berkeley. The event, which was filmed on Hayden’s cell phone camera, quickly went viral.

In his speech at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), President Trump called Hayden Williams on stage and used the occasion to call on law enforcement to protect First Amendment rights of conservatives. Trump commented, “Ladies and gentlemen, he [Hayden Williams] took a hard punch in the face for all of us; remember that. He took a hard punch for all of us and we can never allow that to happen.”

On March 1, the University of California police department reported that they had caught Hayden’s attacker, Zachary Greenberg, a 28-year-old software engineer from Oakland. Although not a student at Berkeley, Greenberg was at the university’s library on the day of the attack. For Greenberg, the arrest follows a long list of altercations with conservative groups, which resulted — on many occasions — in restraining orders being filed against him. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty to the charges at Berkeley.

While in its first week online, the YU Zachary Greenberg’s video had only a handful of views. By March 7, the video had over 1,000. This surge in viewership was a result of people trying to find the video of the Berkeley assault but instead chanced upon a video of YU’s Zachary Greenberg describing why he would be an ideal candidate for the RA job.

Although most people commenting on the video were aware of the confusion immediately after clicking the play button, some still thought that YU’s Zachary Greenberg was, in fact, the Punching Zachary Greenberg.

One viewer, who apparently did not make the distinction between the two men, commented, “Take off that mask, I know it's you commi scum!!!” Another viewer, however, had a much more positive reaction to the mistake, calling the YU Zachary Greenberg a “Sweet Heart.”

Jonathan Greenberg (YC ‘20), a current RA who bears no familial relation to either of the Zachary Greenbergs, but is, however, a close friend to the YU Zach Greenberg, commented, “Knowing Zach, I’m not surprised in the slightest to hear about the story. These crazy stories always seem to happen to him. I can, however, say this: the only trait those two men have in common is their name. The Zachary Greenberg I know wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Greenberg is known to be active in political life on campus, participating in events such as The Great Debate between the Democrats and Republicans on campus. One student, Daniel Elfenbein (YC ‘20), jokingly remarked that he would “have to think twice about going to a political event with Greenberg in attendance.”

When questioned on whether Zachary Greenberg’s chances of becoming an RA increased, Head RA Noah Hazan responded, “The whole thing was pretty hilarious but I don’t think it negatively or positively affected Zach’s chances of becoming an RA.”

For good or bad, a lot of people are now familiar with the name Zachary Greenberg. As a potential RA, however, his future floor-mates might just have the wrong first impression.


Photo Caption: A shared name between these two individuals caused much confusion for many Youtube viewers.

Photo Credit: The Commentator