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Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Judaism

Published on Jan 06, 2020 by Fern Sidman

Published by The Jewish Voice

Unity Prevails as 25K March Against Anti-Semitism in NYC; Leaders Promise Action

Dozens of elected officials from the Greater New York region on Sunday joined more than 25,000 New Yorkers at “No Hate. No Fear,” a solidarity march with New York’s Jewish community, across the Brooklyn Bridge. The march was organized by UJA-Federation of New York (UJA) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), as well as ADL-NY, AJC-NY, the New York Board of Rabbis, Americans Against Anti-Semitism & Zioness following the violent, anti-Semitic attacks in Monsey, Brooklyn, and Jersey City.

“We do not simply walk over a bridge, we begin building better bridges between all denominations of Jews, and between Jews and non-Jews,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York. “Building bridges means putting aside our differences, religious and political, and calling out anti-Semitism and all forms of hate wherever we see it. The purpose of this march is to loudly and publicly proclaim that an attack on a visibly Orthodox Jew is an attack on every Jew, an attack on every New Yorker, and an attack on every person of good will.”

“The showing on Sunday of over 25,000 people representing the full spectrum of the Jewish community of New York, and many from the non-Jewish community, is a reflection of the seriousness of the plague of anti-Semitism affecting New York,” said Michael Miller, executive vice president and CEO of JCRC-NY. “We will continue to work with our political leadership locally, statewide, and nationally to address this scourge to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community and all communities in New York.”

Following the march, New Yorkers of all backgrounds gathered in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza where a number of community leaders and heads of faith-based organizations including Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke about the recent attacks, the rise of anti-Semitism, and the need for people of all faiths to fight injustice. Additional speakers and performers during the program included Eric Goldstein, Michael Miller, Maccabeats, Devorah Halberstam, Jonathan Greenblatt, Gil Monrose, David Harris, Mehnaz Afridi, Janice Shorenstein, Frankie Miranda, Joe Potasnik, Bishop Anthony DiMarzio, Blake Flayton, Matisyahu, Eric Ward, Chaskel Bennet, Rabbi Avraham Gopin, Shulem, MaNishtana, Lawrence Aker, Rev. Que English, Eli Cohen, Amy Bressman, Bari Weiss, and Isaiah Rothstein, as well as a video message from Rabbi David Niederman.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said that he would call on Congress to boost funding to protect houses of worship, allocating $360 million for them to fortify themselves with surveillance equipment, gates and strong doors, according to a NY Post report.

“Houses of worship have become targets, whether it’s a rabbis house in the suburbs of New York or a Christian church in the suburbs of Dallas,” Schumer said, referencing a deadly shooting last week at the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced that he also will beef up security at New York’s religious-based institutions, doling out an additional $45 million to help protect them against hate crimes, according to the NY Post report.

Discrimination and racism and anti-Semitism is repugnant to every value that New Yorkers hold dear and is repugnant to every value that this country represents,” Cuomo told the crowd. “Racism and anti-Semitism is anti-American.“

But Cuomo said he was “heartened to see this amazing show of support in solidarity,” adding that Sunday’s demonstration was “New York at her best.”

“What is happened in Monsey and what is happened in Brooklyn, New York, is an attack on every New Yorker,” Cuomo said.

Internationally renowned author, scholar and feminist icon Phyllis Chesler said of the “No Hate, No Fear” march in an article that she recently penned for the Arutz Sheva web site: “The Jews are not the ones who have to reject “hate.” It is those who are hating Jews who must do so. It is the community of black Americans, both Christian and Muslim, and their leaders, who must renounce their Jew hatred. It is those blacks who have culturally appropriated Jewishness, namely, the black Hebrew Israelites, who actually believe that they are the only real Jews. It is the Muslims who believe that Jews have “stolen” Jerusalem and other lands from Arab Muslims—and that therefore, Orthodox and Haredi Jews in America deserve to die.”

USA Today reported that the multicultural crowd included a contingent from Ohio and a bishop from Brooklyn, as well as Jews from across North Jersey and New York’s Rockland County, sites of two mass anti-Semitic attacks over the past five weeks.

“An attack on any house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship,” said Ismael Claudio, bishop of the Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ in Brooklyn, who was at Cadman Plaza. “I’m standing with my Jewish brothers and sisters. Today it’s them: tomorrow, might be us.”

“We are here to send a clear message,” Devorah Halberstam told the crowd on Sunday. “We are proud of who we are. Today, we are all Monsey,” said the Chabad-Lubavitch mother of Ari Halberstam who was murdered in anti-Semitic attack on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994.

Mrs. Halberstam’s reference to Monsey is in reference to a most recent attack in which five Chassidic Jews were stabbed at a celebration of the seventh night of Chanukah at a rabbi’s home in Monsey.

An African-American male named Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, New York burst into the residence of the Kossoner Rebbe, Rav Chaim Leibush Rottenberg, on Forshay Road in Monsey after 10 pm on the seventh night of Chanukah. He then took a machete out of a holder and began slashing Jews in an overtly anti-Semitic attack. All together, five Jews were rushed to area hospitals. Monsey is about an hour north of New York City.

It was later reported that Thomas was indicted by federal authorities for committing a hate crime which carries a longer prison term. Thomas was driven to violence because of virulent anti-Semitism that he was imbibing on a regular basis on pro-Nazi web sites that he visited quite frequently, according to an Israel National News report.

INN reported that officials examining his cell phone found that Grafton was looking for information on Nazi culture, swastikas, anti-Semitic ideas, locations of Jewish synagogues around him, and also asked the question: “Why did Hitler hate the Jews?”

Reaction to the most recent attack by local officials was immediate. “Orthodox Jews are being regularly assaulted, menaced, stabbed and murdered in increasing numbers,” says a letter that was signed by NYC councilmen Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger, plus state Sen. Simcha Felder and Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein. It was delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday morning. “Simply stated,” it continued, “it is no longer safe to be identifiable Orthodox in the State of New York. We cannot shop, walk down a street, send our children to school, or even worship in peace.”

“With respect to the local DAs, what they are doing isn’t helping,” Deutsch told The New York Post, a reference to changes to the bail laws that are allowing those arrested for antisemitic and other crimes to walk free without bail. “When anti-Semitic attackers are released just hours after they are arrested, it sends a message that New York City doesn’t take hate crimes seriously. With no visible consequences, what’s preventing others from attacking us?”

Fox News reported that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday night’s attack was the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York since Dec. 8 and endemic of “an American cancer on the body politic.”

“This is violence spurred by hate, it is mass violence and I consider this an act of domestic terrorism,” Cuomo said. “Let’s call it what it is.”

On December 11, two African Americans murdered four people in Jersey City, New Jersey in yet another anti-Semitic attack. The couple, David Anderson and Francine Graham had hijacked a van to carry out their depraved crimes. They first shot a Jersey City police officer named Joseph Seals, 40, a father of five young children.

The shooters then raced over to a kosher grocery store on Martin Luther King Drive and fatally shot three people; two Orthodox Jews and one non-Jewish grocery store employee. The Orthodox Jews were identified as Mindel Ferencz, who with her husband owned the grocery, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there at the time. The Ferencz family had moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn.

At the end of December, it was reported a woman accused of slapping three Orthodox Jewish women in Crown Heights in another anti-Semitic attack was charged with attempted assault as a hate crime, according to a report on the Vois Es Nais web site.

Tiffany Harris, 30, was then released without bail following her arraignment before a Brooklyn judge on 21 menacing, harassment and attempted assault charges.

Police said Harris slapped, punched and cursed the three Jewish women, ages 22, 26 and 31 in the face and head after encountering them on a corner in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights area, according to the Vois Es Nais report. The victims sustained minor injuries.

According to a New York Post report, Harris shouted at the victims “F-U, Jews!” “Yes, I was there,” Harris later admitted to cops, according to the criminal complaint against her. “Yes, I slapped them. I cursed them out. I said ‘F-U, Jews.”

In New York City in the last weeks of December, fourteen anti-Semitic attacks were reported and one of them resulted in an actual physical injury. A 65-year-old Jewish man was brutally punched and kicked at East 41st Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, according to a NYP report. The victim of the midtown Manhattan attack told the NYPD that his attacker shouted, “F–k you, Jew bastard!” The victim was checking his cell phone when the attacked occurred.

A suspect was apprehended by police in the hours subsequent to the attack. The suspect was identified as Steven Jorge, 28, from Miami, Florida. He was arrested with no bail pending, according to the Post report, pending a psychological examination.

The NYPD reported 166 anti-Semitic incidents from January through September this year, according to a CNN report. The vast majority of the crimes do not involve assault, but rather acts of vandalism, with graffiti or swastikas being scrawled on places that include synagogues, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in September, when he was the department’s chief of detectives.

In Israel, it was reported by the Tazpit Press Service that a simultaneous rally against anti-Semitism and religious hate was held in Jerusalem on Sunday.

The event, which attracted hundreds of Israelis took place in The Jewish Agency’s courtyard in Jerusalem. The march in New York began in lower Manhattan and continued across the Brooklyn Bridge, as some 25,000 New Yorkers walked through the city streets under the slogan of “No Hate. No Fear.”

TPS reported that the Jerusalem rally, held in parallel with the march in New York, was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

According to a statement by the Jewish Agency, the Israeli solidarity event was intended to “send a clear message of support to US Jews, particularly following the most recent attacks in Monsey and Jersey City.”

In December, perpetrators attacked a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing four innocent people, two of whom were Jewish. Later that month, an attacker broke into a rabbi’s home Monsey on the seventh night of Chanukah and stabbed people with a machete, wounding five.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Sunday that Israel stands with its “brothers and sisters” in New York in their battle against anti-Semitism.

“We stand with the many thousands of our brothers, sisters and friends in NYC marching against the rising anti-Semitism. We will not waver in our battle against anti-Semitism and hate,” he said.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog, warned that Jews in the US are no longer safe after hundreds of years of relative safety.

“Jews are no longer as safe on the streets of the US as they were over the past hundreds of years. We are here in Jerusalem standing together with them in solidarity declaring: No Fear! No hate!” he said.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon suggested a change of strategy in the battle against anti-Semitism, offering a more active stance, and a move to “offense.”

“While anti-Semitism continues to rear its head in the United States and throughout the world, we must move from defense to offense. We will not be silenced when Jews are murdered in synagogues and will not be ignored when those who wear kippahs are being killed in the street. We must join hands and stand as a wall against the wave of hatred,” he said.

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