Israeli leaders ‘shocked and devastated,’ demand action after Monsey attack

Avigdor Liberman urges immigration to Israel after man stabs five at Hanukkah celebration in upstate New York

Orthodox Jewish men talk on Forshay Road in Monsey, NY, December 29, 2019, down the street from the scene of a stabbing rampage that occurred the night before, during a Hanukkah celebration. (AP/Allyse Pulliam)
Orthodox Jewish men talk on Forshay Road in Monsey, NY, December 29, 2019, down the street from the scene of a stabbing rampage that occurred the night before, during a Hanukkah celebration. (AP/Allyse Pulliam)

Israeli leaders condemned a stabbing spree at a Hanukkah celebration in upstate New York, on Sunday, with some calling for US Jews to immigrate to Israel after a spate of attacks on Jews in and around New York City.

President Reuven Rivlin said on Twitter that he was “shocked and devastated by the terrible terror attack in New York.”

“The resurgent anti-Semitism is not only a problem for the Jewish people, and certainly not for Israel alone. We must work together to confront this evil, which is again and again raising its head and represents a real danger to the entire world,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also denounced the rampage.

“Israel strongly condemns the latest expressions of anti-Semitism and the cruel attack in the middle of Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi in Monsey,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “We send wishes for recovery to those injured. We will cooperate in any way with local authorities to help wipe out this phenomenon. We offer this help to all countries.”

At least five people from the local ultra-Orthodox community were wounded in the stabbing at a Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the New York suburb of Monsey, authorities said late Saturday.

A man reportedly used a machete to attack people attending at a residence in the upstate New York town, which is home to a large Jewish population.

Two of the victims were in critical condition.

No motive was given for the attack by police, but it was widely viewed by officials as anti-Semitic in nature.

The scene of a stabbing in the Jewish community of Monsey in New York, December 29, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to the victims and warned of a “growing number of attacks on Jews around the world.”

“This shocking incident during a Hanukkah celebration is another example of a global problem that faces us today. I have no doubt that the American authorities will show zero tolerance toward the stabbed, and will do everything they must to put an end to this phenomenon.”

Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz speaks during a faction meeting in Tel Aviv on December 12, 2019. (Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, an immigrant to Israel from Moldova, suggested the solution to anti-Semitism was immigration to Israel.

In a Hebrew-language tweet, he wrote: “Again and again, we are witnesses to the dire consequences of anti-Semitism, this time in Monsey, New York. Alongside the deep sadness and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, it’s important to know that the main solution to these trends is immigration to Israel.”

Israeli officials have urged immigration after attacks in Europe, but calls for American Jews to emigrate are rare.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the attack should teach Israelis to be more careful about how they speak about the ultra-Orthodox community, which is often maligned in mainstream Israeli discourse. Liberman in particular has been accused of anti-Semitism for accusing Haredi politicians of only seeking government handouts.

“This hate crime teaches us to avoid hurtful statements toward the Israeli Haredi community in Israeli discourse,” Katz said in a Sunday morning interview on Israel Radio.

He later repeated the comments in a tweet.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, also expressed dismay over the attack.

“It is shocking to see time and again innocent people being harmed and persecuted simply for being Jewish,” said Litzman. “This is a terrible situation and US leaders and authorities, as in the entire world, must put an end to it and uproot this affliction.”

Blue and White’s MK Yair Lapid, who has also been critical of ultra-Orthodox politicians in Israel, vowed such attacks “won’t destroy our spirit.”

“Anti-Semitism won’t defeat us, won’t destroy our spirit,” he wrote in a Hebrew-language Twitter post. “The community in Monsey today, too, will light the last candle of Hanukkah and pray for good news.”

Illustrative: This picture taken on April 5, 2019 shows shows two Jewish men hitchhiking during a rainfall in a Jewish neighborhood of Monsey in Rockland County, New York. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, called for “actions, not words” from American officials.

“On a day when we celebrate the Hanukkah holiday, we see yet another vile attack on Jews. This is a time for action, not words. This is a time for enforcement that deters the perpetrators of hate, whoever they may be.”

Anti-Semitism, Danon added, “has no border. It raises its head in the United States, in Europe and around the world. The world’s nations must unite in a struggle against the wave of hate.”

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