Swastika scrawled on campaign sign for Jewish Congressional candidate in New York

Democrat Max Rose says ‘I will not meet hate with more hate’ after antisemitic vandalism in Staten Island, amid a surge in attacks on city’s Jews

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

Then-US House representative Max Rose speaks to constituents during a town hall meeting, October 2, 2019, at the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Then-US House representative Max Rose speaks to constituents during a town hall meeting, October 2, 2019, at the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK — Vandals scrawled a swastika on a campaign sign for Jewish congressional candidate Max Rose in New York City on Wednesday, amid near-daily antisemitic attacks in the city.

The swastika and the word “No!” were scratched in black over Rose’s name on the sign in Staten Island.

“In the face of this hate, this vitriol, this message to me and my family that they don’t just hate me as a Jew, they don’t just hate all Jews, but they for all intents and purposes wish that I was dead,” he said, “in the face of that, all I can say is that I will not meet that hate with more hate, not today, not ever. Our politics, our nation won’t be able to survive.”

“I know together, this country can fulfill its purpose, just like it did for my ancestors who came here to flee antisemitism and hate,” he said. “There are better days ahead.”

Rose, a moderate Democrat, represented Staten Island’s 11th Congressional District from 2019 to 2021. He lost the seat in the conservative borough to Republican Nicole Malliotakis, and announced his comeback bid late last year.

Malliotakis condemned the graffiti, saying, “There is no room in Staten Island or anywhere in our country for any form of anti-Semitism. I am deeply disgusted by someone painting a swastika on a campaign sign of my opponent, who is of Jewish faith.”

Rose is a military veteran and a firm supporter of Israel and Jewish causes.

The antisemitic vandalism was the latest in a surge of attacks on Jews in New York City that have put the community on edge and frustrated Jewish leaders and their allies.

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.

In another incident this week, on Monday a man waved a gun at four yeshiva students in Brooklyn and shouted that they “better run.”

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

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams condemned the attack spree after a video showed a woman screaming at a Jewish man on a sidewalk and swatting off his kippah and shtreimel, a traditional hat worn by Haredi men on Shabbat and holidays. A nearly identical incident happened several days before in the same neighborhood, Brooklyn’s Boro Park.

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.

The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said last week that a major New York Times exposé into yeshivas could contribute to the problem.

“It’s really unfortunate that the New York Times took an issue which merits investigation and exploration and framed it in such a way that I think was unhelpful and could actually encourage some of the bad stuff,” Greenblatt said.

He said the secular education in yeshivas needed to be looked at, but that others should do it “differently than the Times did, in a way that’s actually unbiased and decreases antisemitism rather than potentially contributing to it.”

Illustrative: New York police secure a Jewish community event in New York City, May 19, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Most of the antisemitic 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.

Three men were sentenced to probation this week after pleading guilty to hate crimes in a violent attack on Jews last year, infuriating Jewish leaders, who had demanded jail time.

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.

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 this month, 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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