NY police searching for person who sprayed swastika on Holocaust awareness ad

New York governor, attorney general condemn antisemitic graffiti in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, as hate crimes against Jews continue to surge

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

A swastika on an antisemitism awareness billboard in New York City, May 5, 2022. (Courtesy/JewBelong)
A swastika on an antisemitism awareness billboard in New York City, May 5, 2022. (Courtesy/JewBelong)

NEW YORK — Vandals sprayed a swastika on a Holocaust awareness billboard in New York City on Thursday, amid concerns of surging antisemitic crime in the region.

Two swastikas were scrawled onto a bus stop in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, home to a large concentration of Jewish residents.

One of the symbols was sprayed on a billboard sponsored by the advocacy group JewBelong. The sign sought to raise awareness of antisemitism and its connection to the Holocaust, part of a campaign by the group called “End Jew Hate.”

The Borough Park Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood safety group, released security footage showing a woman defacing the bus stop and said the New York Police Department’s hate crimes unit was searching for the culprit.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in response to the incident, “We stand with our Jewish neighbors in the face of antisemitic hate. Hate will never win.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, “Disgusting, hateful acts of antisemitism cannot and will not go unchecked in New York.”

Swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti are regularly sprayed around New York. Last month, the NYPD hate crimes unit said it arrested two people for scrawling swastikas around Williamsburg, another Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Jewish population.

The Borough Park incident occured as Israel celebrated its Independence Day, an event also marked by some Jewish communities in the US. Hochul and other state officials congratulated Israel on the holiday, and government buildings were lit up blue to honor the country.

Israel observed its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, last week.

Jews are targeted in hate crimes more than any other group in New York City, by far, year after year. Anti-Jewish attacks accounted for 38 percent of all confirmed hate crimes in New York City last year, according to NYPD statistics.

The NYPD has confirmed 67 antisemitic crimes in New York City since the start of the year, representing 47% of all total hate crimes, more than three times higher than any other group.

The Anti-Defamation League said last month that the number of reported antisemitic incidents in the US reached 2,717 last year, an all-time high.

The ADL reported 416 antisemitic incidents in New York State, the highest of any state, and also an all-time high. Neighboring New Jersey had the second-most incidents of any state last year, with 370.

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