A member of the Bnei Menashe community was brutally beaten in an apparently racist attack in the northern city of Tiberias on Saturday.
Am-Shalem Singson, 28, who came to Israel from Manipur, India, in 2017, was taunted by two Israeli men who thought he was Chinese, the Shavei Israel organization said on Sunday.
The men, who have not been identified, called him “Chinese” and yelled “Corona! Corona,” a reference to the coronavirus pandemic that began in China’s Hubei province.
“I told both of the attackers that I was not even Chinese, but rather a Jew from the Bnei Menashe community, not that there is any justification for attacking a Chinese guy or anybody else,” he was quoted as saying in a statement from the organization.
“But they were totally crazed and kicked me hard while yelling, ‘Corona! Corona!’”
A complaint was filed with police, who said they were attempting to locate the perpetrators.
Shavei Israel said Singson is now hospitalized at the Poriya hospital in Tiberas with “severe injuries to his chest and lungs.” He is listed in stable condition.
Singson immigrated to Israel with his mother, grandmother and brother and now lives in Tiberias and studies at a religious seminary in nearby Ma’alot.
“More than 10,000 people from China and East Asia work in Israel today,” the Racism Crisis Center of the Israel Religious Action Center said of the incident. “The [coronavirus] panic must not turn them into targets. In some previous epidemics, it was the Jews who were falsely accused of spreading the disease. Let’s learn that humane lesson.”
“Shavei Israel is stunned by the vicious and racist attack on Am-Shalem Singson yesterday in Tiberias,” its founder Michael Freund said in a statement. “The Bnei Menashe are our brothers and sisters and anyone who raises a hand against them must be brought to justice. I demand that action be taken, and I call on the police to investigate this incident immediately.”
Over 4,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community live in Israel, and some 6,500 remain in India awaiting aliya.