Queens officials denounce anti-Semitic attacks, threats
by Benjamin Fang
Mar 14, 2017 | 3544 views | 0 0 comments | 161 161 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elected officials condemned the rise in anti-Semitic attacks, threats and bomb scares directed at Jewish institutions last Friday at the Samuel Field Y.

Gathered with civic and faith leaders, the city and state lawmakers spoke out against the uptick. According to the NYPD, hate crimes have spiked 55 percent in the last three months, including a 94 percent surge in anti-Semitic crimes.

“We stand against hate and discrimination of any kind and any race,” said Councilman Paul Vallone. “Specifically, what has been happening with the anti-Semitic attacks and threats to our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community is simply unacceptable.”

Vallone called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase funding and resources to the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force to combat the uptick. Vallone said they are currently “overwhelmed with this responsibility” and need more detectives to work on cases.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik said his family has been living in New York City since 1903. He described the discrimination his father experienced as a teenager, including signs that read “No Jews and No Irish” in city businesses.

But he said the recent “outbreak” of anti-Semitism now is “unprecedented in my lifetime.”

With the Jewish holiday Purim fast approaching, Grodenchik sent a message to the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic acts: the NYPD and FBI are going to get you.

“You can live here in peace and that’s what we all want,” he said, “or you’re going to have trouble and the NYPD is going to get you.”

Both Vallone and Grodenchik spoke about their recent trip to Israel, where they learned about the constant fear Israelis live with. But Vallone said many Israelis he spoke to indicated they were also concerned about what’s perceived to be an “anti-Semitic feeling” growing in the United States.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic grew up in Israel, which she called a country that was “in existential threat of terrorism, hatred and anti-Semitism.”

“Never in a million years would I think that my generation would have to have events like this or solidarity marches denouncing hate right here at home,” Rozic said. “Never would I have thought that my generation would have to face the same anti-Semitism that I learned about in books, that I learned about from my grandparents. But here we are.

“We’re a united front ready to combat whatever hate and anti-Semitism comes our way,” she added. “Whatever phone calls or threats we get, we will push back against all of them.”

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein blamed part of the uptick on the recent presidential campaign, particularly President Donald Trump. He said a lot of hate groups came together to support Trump.

“Throughout the campaign, we rarely, if ever, heard the president condemning hate and hate groups,” Braunstein said. “We need the president to step up and let his supporters know that these anti-Semitic attacks are unacceptable and, quite frankly, I don’t think he’s done enough so far.”

According to Assemblyman David Weprin, since January 1, 91 Jewish organizations have received 116 bomb threats nationwide. Fifteen have been made in New York State alone.

In addition to widespread swastika paintings, cemetery desecrations and bomb scares at Jewish Community Centers, last week in Brooklyn the Jewish Children’s Museum was evacuated because of a threat.

“Each of these acts deserve to be condemned,” Weprin said. “These heinous crimes threaten to tear our community apart.”

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