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Anti-Semitic hate crimes, including 3 in Brooklyn, reported during Hanukkah

December 27, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
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At least four anti-Semitic attacks took place over a 30-hour period during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, including three attacks in Brooklyn.

The crime spree began Monday — the second day of Hanukkah — in the lobby of one of NYCHA’s Independence Towers buildings at 99 Wilson St. Two young boys, ages 6 and 7, were assaulted, authorities said.

The pair was attacked from behind at around 8:40 p.m. by two teenagers, according to police. The boys suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. An NYPD spokesperson told the New York Post the incident was being investigated as a hate crime because “it’s usually better safe than sorry.”

Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents the area, tweeted that he was “horrified” to hear of the young boys’ assault.

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“This is a NYCHA development in which the Hasidic community has lived side by side in harmony with the broader community for decades,” he wrote.

“It pains me to hear that the anti-semitism that we are seeing — which is often directed at those Jews who are ID’ed by their clothing — is being directed at children in their own building,” Levin went on. “Every person of good faith has to call this out [and] ensure hate has no place among our children.”

Also on Monday, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish man in a yarmulke was attacked on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Back in Brooklyn, two other anti-Semitic attacks were reported Tuesday in Crown Heights.

At around 1:40 a.m., a 25-year-old man had anti-Semitic slurs yelled at him while walking on Kingston Avenue near President Street. The people yelling — who the man recorded on his cellphone — also threw a drink at him. The man was not injured in the incident.

Later that day, a 56-year-old man was attacked from behind by a group of people walking on Union Street. The man reportedly refused medical attention.

All four incidents are being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force, officials said.

The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey has offered up a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the assault of the 56-year-old on Union Street.

“We are appalled at the sheer frequency and aggressive nature of these incidents,” said Evan Bernstein, regional director for ADL New York and New Jersey. “They’re made particularly heinous by the fact they are occurring during a time when society is supposed to come together in peace for the holidays, and as the Jewish community is particularly on edge as it’s reeling from the deadly attack in Jersey City on December 10.”

That day, a pair of gunmen shot a Jersey City police officer to death in a cemetery before heading to JC Kosher Supermarket, where they opened fire. The mass murder left six dead — and one of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities reeling with fear and confusion. More than 1,000 mourners take to the streets of Williamsburg for a funeral procession in honor of two Brooklynites killed in the attack.

The Williamsburg remembrance took place at Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, a mere seven minute walk from the NYCHA building where the two young boys were assaulted Monday.

“Enough is enough; now is the time for society to come together in rejection of this hate and for public officials and community leaders to speak up, lead by example, and demand meaningful change to protect the Jewish community,” Bernstein said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has also called for an end to the hate.

“It’s not enough to condemn anti-Semitism — we have to confront it,” he tweeted Wednesday. “The despicable crimes committed against our Jewish community over the last 24 hours are an attack on ALL New Yorkers. The NYPD is actively investigating all of them and will bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Despite crime in New York City dropping to record lows, hate crimes across the five boroughs have increased dramatically. In June, de Blasio announced that a new hate crime prevention office would open months ahead of schedule due to sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents.

“That was originally slated to open up in November. I’m announcing that we will open that office this summer. We’re speeding up that opening. We’re working with the council to get it up and running immediately,” de Blasio told reporters.

The office ultimately ended up launching in early September.

As of October, there were 323 hate crimes reported in 2019, an increase of 33 percent during the same time period in 2018. Anti-Semitic hate crimes are the most common, increasing 53 percent from the prior year.

“When you look at the categories of crime, it continues to be anti-Semitic, which is driving the overall,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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