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Hate Crimes hit New York City Metropolitan Area

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What appeared initially to be an isolated incident of anti-Semitism has begun to look like an epidemic. The recent round of events began on November 11, 2011 when cars were set on fire and anti-Semitic graffiti was found spray painted in Midwood, Brooklyn. The time of year might have something to do with it since bias incidents have typically spiked during the last two months of the year during the holiday season.

The latest incident, which occurred over night on Nov. 27, 2011, was the discovery of “G-d don’t like Jews” scrolled across a Jewish family’s windshield in Marine Park.

 

New York City had more than 150 anti-Semitic incidents last year, with about one-third occurring in Brooklyn. The recent surge of anti-Semitism is a clear indication that bigotry and intolerance have neither boundaries nor time limits.

In a joint statement, local politicians and civic organizations serving Marine Park said: Last night another heinous act of bigotry was perpetrated in southern Brooklyn when anti-Semitic graffiti was painted onto the windshield of a car owned by a Jewish family on Coleman Street in our Marine Park community. We are joining together today to immediately and indignantly condemn this act of hatred and vandalism.

Marine Park is a neighborhood where people of all faiths have lived side by side amicably and peacefully. We will not stand for acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism, acts of bigotry of any kind—or for that matter, any act of vandalism—in our community. We call upon anyone who has any information about the perpetrator or perpetrators of this act to come forward and contact the 63rd police precinct or any one of us immediately.

Our neighborhood will never allow itself to be characterized by the act of a single hateful act. We are a community and we will continue to stand together as a community where we can all live in peace and harmony.

Jewish Community Council of Marine Park (Shea Rubenstein, Executive Vice President) said: “The JCC of Marine Park, which represents over 1,500 members and 13 synagogues in the Marine Park community, has always peacefully co-existed with our neighbors and friends. We are certain that this was perpetrated by an individual and is not indicative of the general sentiment of our neighborhood or the Marine Park community.”

Other recent incidents

On the morning of November 16, 2011, vandals spray painted an “ew” onto the Avenue J train station‘s sign to read Avenue Jew. Representatives of the heavily Orthodox Jewish area condemned the graffiti and locals are wondered if it’s connected to last week’s hate-crime-related torching of three cars, which was accompanied by spray-painted “KKK” and swastikas nearby.

Police are investigating the latest spray painting as a possible bias crime, and the Transit Police have removed the sign.

“I am deeply disturbed by the graffiti incident at the Avenue J station on the Q line today,” Councilman Lew Fidler said in a statement yesterday. “Coming as quickly as it does on the heels of last week’s horrible acts on Ocean Parkway, it is particularly chilling. Whether this is the work of one deranged person, a group of drunken idiots or some organized effort, it must be met with an immediate outcry. Now is not the time to turn the other cheek or to look away. Now is the time to act.”

And while it could very possibly be an anti-Semitic crime it could also be some Jewish kids tagging their own station. Sometimes Jewish kids spray paint the Star of David. Simply writing the word Jew on a train station does not prove a hate crime. Today the word "Jew" is not used in a derogatory way. At least not in NYC.

On the night of November 21, 2011, a 30-year-old man from Bensonhurst was on board a Coney Island bound F train approaching the 4th Avenue station when he was attacked by two men yelling anti-Semitic slurs.

Emil Benjamin, who is a Kavkazi Jew (from near the Caucus Mountains), successfully fought off the two men – who allegedly called him a “Jewish bastard” – until one pulled out a knife.

Benjamin, a loan broker from Bensonhurst, punched one of the brutes in the mouth, busting his lip open. But as the duo ran away, Benjamin felt something pouring down his back.

“I felt blood gushing out of my back and my left leg,” he said. “It was sizzling hot, like a hot shower. My blue jeans were red. My sneakers were soaked with blood.”

As bystanders called for help, Benjamin, who was stabbed in the back and left thigh, spotted a blood-soaked knife on the concrete platform. He was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center, and cops busted the suspects nearby.

Rafael Padin, 22, and Jose Santos, 18, were charged by police for assault. Padin, who also cut his own hand during the struggle, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon but police are not charging the attackers with a hate crime.

On Nov. 25, 2011, The New York City Police Department launched an investigation after swastikas were found scratched into the metal of an elevator at 70 Ross Street in Williamsburg. They have since been removed. An elevator in the same building was also targeted on Nov. 23, 2011. The NYPD says its hate crimes unit is looking into both cases.

Swastikas were also found earlier during the month of November 2011 painted on a sidewalk near the corner of Berry and 10th Streets in Williamsburg.

On November 29, 2011, five Jewish shops were targeted along Raritan Avenue in the heavily Jewish suburb of Highland Park, NJ.

The motive appears to anti-Semitism since several businesses in between the vandalized stores owned by Jews were unharmed. The vandals threw bricks through the windows of a kosher pizzeria, another kosher restaurant, two Judaica stores - all with identifiable Jewish symbols, and a hardware store owned by a Jewish resident of Highland Park.

Several blogs reported that patrons of a local falafel shop were threatened earlier this week with “a second Kristallnacht,” a reference to the 1938 "night of broken glass" pogrom in which thousands of Jewish stores and synagogues were destroyed and that launched the Nazi Holocaust in Germany.

A New Jersey man in his mid to late 50s was arrested in connection with the smashing of windows in Highland Park. Richard Green of New Brunswick was charged with five counts of criminal mischief, with a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

However, if officials file hate crime charges against him, he could face at least 10 years in prison. In a statement, police said that the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office was notified of the circumstances of the incidents, and they will decide on whether to upgrade the charges.

Besides the incidents of window smashing on Raritan Avene, Green was being questioned in connection with happenings on the Rutgers University campus – where windows of the campus' Hillel House and Chabad House were broken on the night of Nov 27, 2011. Police are trying to determine Green's motives, and if he acted alone or with others. Officials were quoted as saying that he was sent for psychiatric evaluation.

Highland Park recently elected an Orthodox Jewish man as its mayor.

Further Reading:

Hatred hits Brooklyn, NY

The New York Times and the cover-up of anti-Semitism in New York in 1991