New York mayor condemns ‘outrageous attacks’ on Jews as near-daily assaults continue

Mayor Eric Adams says antisemitism ‘won’t be tolerated’ after woman strikes Haredi man on sidewalk, as community members call for stiffer punishments against assailants

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

A woman strikes a Jewish man in Brooklyn in a video released on September 18, 2022. (Screenshot)
A woman strikes a Jewish man in Brooklyn in a video released on September 18, 2022. (Screenshot)

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday condemned attacks on Jews as near-daily assaults on community members continued, drawing calls for more US government action.

“These outrageous attacks on our Jewish community won’t be tolerated, not in our city,” Adams said in response to a video showing a woman striking a Jewish man.

The video posted by Boro Park Shomrim, a neighborhood watch group, showed the woman pursuing an ultra-Orthodox man down a city sidewalk, screaming at him. She then swatted off his kippah and shtreimel, a traditional hat worn by Haredi men on Shabbat and holidays.

Boro Park Shomrim said the woman had been arrested.

“We will keep our streets safe,” Adams said, thanking police for “their quick response to these acts of anti-Semitic hatred.”

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said, “Acts of antisemitism are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in New York, and we’ve strengthened our laws to further hold perpetrators accountable,” Hochul said.

The American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, US House Representative Jerry Nadler and local politicians also condemned the attack.

A nearly identical incident also occurred in Boro Park earlier this week when a man riding a bicycle knocked the hat off of a Jewish man on a street.

Jews are consistently the group most targeted in hate crimes in New York City on an annual basis, in per capita and absolute terms, with the Anti-Defamation League reporting a record-high number of incidents last year.

The NYPD has confirmed 149 anti-Jewish hate crimes between the start of the year and June 28, representing an incident every 29 hours on average. The attacks range from violent assaults to racial slurs and property damage, and many more likely go unreported.

In August, the NYPD reported 24 anti-Jewish hate crimes, far more than against any other group and a 118-percent jump over the same month last year.

Many of the attacks target visibly identifiable Jews and Jewish targets in Brooklyn. Haredi communities in the area are also feeling under attack due to an uproar over secular education in the yeshiva religious school system, with some community leaders warning the issue could stoke further antisemitism.

Antisemitic vandalism on the wall of a New York synagogue, August 17, 2022. (Courtesy)

Most of the attacks do not result in serious punishment, drawing the ire of Jewish advocates who have demanded changes to bail laws that could lead to harsher repercussions for assailants.

Late last month, police announced two arrests for suspected hate crimes against Jews, as Brooklyn community leaders praised police, called for bail reform and said the community was “terrified.” Police also said they would step up patrols around synagogues.

On Thursday, US House Representative Ritchie Torres called on the FBI and the US attorney general to investigate New York’s response to antisemitism, highlighting the low number of serious punishments for anti-Jewish hate crimes.

“The federal government can no longer stand by passively as antisemitic violence goes unchecked and unpunished in America’s largest city,” said Torres, a Democrat who represents New York’s 15th Congressional district in the Bronx and is a firm supporter of Jewish communities and Israel.

In a rare case, a US federal court charged a pro-Palestinian activist with a hate crime after he beat a Jewish man on the sidelines of a protest in Manhattan in April. An investigation found the defendant had attacked two other Jews in unprovoked assaults last year.

In some of the other incidents in the past week, a Jewish man was punched in the face repeatedly in an unprovoked attack in Queens; Nazi graffiti was sprayed on a fountain in Manhattan; and a Jewish woman was shot with a BB gun in Brooklyn.

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