Antisemitism in New York

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Protesters in New York as part of the Say No to Hate worldwide protests to fight antisemitisim

Protesters in New York as part of the Say No to Hate worldwide protests to fight antisemitisim. (photo credit: DAVID ABADIE)

Just as Shabbat was coming to an end on Saturday, August 31, a 45-year-old Jewish man was assaulted in Brooklyn in what was reportedly the third antisemitic attack in New York in a week.

In the latest attack, the victim reported that two men drinking in front of a Midwood synagogue near Avenue J and East 15th Street insulted him with anti-Jewish slurs, with one of them knocking him over and hitting him in the face with his belt. He was treated for cuts to his face and head.

“A young Jewish man was called a f***ing Jew and then belted over the head with a metal belt buckle!” New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted after the attack, in a direct appeal to Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Enough is enough of Jews living in fear anywhere in America, let alone New York City!”

Last Tuesday, a 64-year-old hassid was beaten by a young man with a brick in a Crown Heights park, knocking out two teeth and breaking his nose. Two days later, in the same neighborhood that is home to the headquarters of Chabad, another Orthodox Jew suffered eye injuries when an assailant threw rocks at his truck.

Last month, police arrested a 39-year-old man, identified as Kenya Dean, for spraying a Jewish man with mace in Crown Heights, after shouting, “You Jews, Hitler should have finished you off.”

New York has started to resemble Poland 80 years ago, and action must be taken to halt these hate crimes.

The New York Police Department announced it was stepping up patrols in response to the attacks, but this is clearly not enough.
After the latest attacks, New York City’s new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes opened months ahead of schedule, a move that shows there is some concern about the incidents.
New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who chairs the council’s Jewish caucus, applauded the opening of the hate crime prevention office and called for further education to counter the attacks.

“It’s very concerning and very disturbing to me,” Deutsch told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. What has happened in the past is irrelevant, he said. “The main impact of this is what’s happening in the present.”

Deutsch said that increasing police presence in public areas was key.

“Having officers in the streets is preventive,” he said. “It’s important to have visibility to prevent such incidents.”

Local authorities need to take tougher measures to combat antisemitic attacks, and members of the Jewish community must protect themselves better. Perhaps Israel, with its enormous knowledge in the security field, can play a role in helping them. Additional patrols and security guards should be deployed throughout the New York metropolitan area, which is home to an estimated 1.5 million Jews. We have already seen in Pittsburgh and Poway what can happen.

According to the NYPD, there have been some 150 hate crimes against Jews this year, ranging from assaults to antisemitic graffiti – almost double the previous year’s figure.
“We won’t tolerate hatred or violence against our Jewish community,” de Blasio tweeted on August 30, the day after the rock-throwing attack.

Yaakov Behrman, a community leader in Crown Heights, connected the attacks to a larger problem with antisemitism in the US, telling The Algemeiner, “We see in Congress for the first time… Congressional leaders that are promoting antisemitic ideas.”

He was referring, of course, to Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the author of the infamous antisemitic tweet in February that “It’s all about the Benjamins.”
This uptick in attacks in New York appears to be part of the new wave of antisemitism that is sweeping across the United States.

For this reason, we call on President Donald Trump to speak out unequivocally against the latest antisemitic attacks. Hate crimes should not be tolerated in the world’s largest democracy, and severe punishment should be meted out to anyone found guilty of perpetrating one – against Jews or any other minority.

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