ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Attacker yelled ‘Kanye 2024’ after alleged antisemitic assault in NY, police say

63-year-old man hit from behind while walking in Central Park; police search for suspect, a man in his 40s

Kanye West watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, January 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kanye West watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, January 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Police in New York said Saturday they were investigating an alleged antisemitic attack this week where the perpetrator assaulted a 63-year-old man in Central Park, yelled a number of antisemitic comments at him and finished with “Kanye 2024,” in reference to rapper Kanye West, before fleeing on a bicycle.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the incident took place Wednesday evening when the victim was walking in Central Park and the attacker, a man in his 40s, hit him from behind, causing him to fall to the ground. The victim, who has not been identified, broke his hand and chipped a tooth in the alleged attack.

He was hospitalized in stable condition, the Post reported, citing the New York Police Department.

Police said the attacker made “numerous” antisemitic comments, including the reference to West, known as Ye, whose antisemitic tirades in recent weeks reached new heights during an interview early this month with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in which the disgraced rapper praised Hitler and said the Nazis “did good things.”

This came weeks after West was locked out of several social media accounts for posting antisemitic threats that included vowing to go “death con 3 on Jewish people,” claiming that he was the target of a “Jewish underground media mafia,” and that “Jewish people have owned the Black voice.”

His latest suspension from Twitter occurred weeks after new owner Elon Musk personally welcomed the rapper back on the platform in mid-November only to kick West off after he posted a picture that showed a swastika interlaced with a Star of David.

An image posted by Kanye West to Twitter before his suspension, December 2022 (screenshot)

The Jones interview came about a week after West dined with former US president Donald Trump and antisemitic white nationalist Nick Fuentes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a private meal that was widely criticized, including by Trump’s Jewish allies as well as senior Republican leaders.

Trump announced in mid-November that he would run for the presidency in 2024.

West declared a week later that he, too, would run in 2024.

Scott Richman, the regional director for the Anti-Defamation League in New York and New Jersey, said in a statement to the Washington Post that Wednesday’s attack in Central Park was “yet another example that Ye’s unhinged antisemitic remarks and his doubling down on them again and again can lead to violence and incite others to act.”

“When public figures with huge platforms fan the flames of antisemitism, people will copy it and begin to think it’s normal,” he said.

The NYPD said officers were searching for the suspected attacker, who was last seen around Washington Square Park. The department’s Hate Crimes task force tweeted a still image from CCTV footage of the suspect who appeared to be wearing a hat, beige pants, a brown jacket, and light-colored shoes.

Wednesday’s attack came as the NYPD reported a spike in antisemitic incidents across the city, a rise that corresponds with national trends.

According to a report released in April by the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 saw the highest levels of reported antisemitic events in the US — the highest figures since the organization started tracking the issue in the 1970s. A report released the same month by Tel Aviv University found a record-high number of reports of antisemitic activity throughout the world in 2021.

FBI Director Christopher Wray  recently said that the American Jewish community is “getting hit from all sides” and “desperately” needs further support from the agency amid a sharp rise in antisemitic attacks. He pointed out that some 63 percent of religious hate crimes were motivated by antisemitism, “and that’s targeting a group that makes up about 2.4% of the American population.”

Earlier this month, the NYPD recorded 45 antisemitic hate crimes in the city in November, marking a 125% increase over the same period last year.

On Monday, the White House announced the establishment of an inter-agency committee aimed at combating antisemitism, heeding calls from US lawmakers and leading American Jewish organizations who urged a “whole of government approach” to the intensifying phenomenon.

The decision came days after the White House hosted a round table meeting with executives from prominent Jewish groups who made the recommendation — the same one that was pushed by a bipartisan group of 125 House lawmakers in a letter to US President Joe Biden.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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