As U.S. Jews Reel From Hanukkah Stabbing, Sanders Vows to Fight 'All Forms of Racism'

Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates condemn spike in anti-Semitic incidents, Elizabeth Warren stresses 'hateful bigotry has no place in our society'

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Washington
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Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) uses a torch to light a menorah during a lighting event in Des Moines, Iowa, December 29, 2019.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) uses a torch to light a menorah during a lighting event in Des Moines, Iowa, December 29, 2019. Credit: AFP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Washington

WASHINGTON – A day after the anti-Semitic stabbing attack in New York, Senator Bernie Sanders promised to work to “wipe out all forms of racism and bigotry” in the United States while participating in a Hanukkah celebration in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday.

Sanders, who is Jewish, is one of the leading presidential contenders vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2020 election.

“In this country, we’re going to bring our people together and not allow ourselves to be divided up,” the Vermont senator said after lighting the eighth candle on a big hanukkiah (menorah) displayed at the city center.

“We are seeing it in America and all over the world, the rise of anti-Semitism,” Sanders added.

Sanders related the spike in anti-Semitic incidents to a broader phenomenon of “a rise in hate crimes in this country.” He mentioned a recent incident in Iowa, in which a woman intentionally ran over a teenage girl with her car because she thought the girl was Mexican.

“We saw someone running into a kid here in this city, because that child was Latino. We’re seeing people being stabbed in New York because they are Jewish. People are being assaulted because they’re Muslims. We need to say no to religious bigotry, no to divisiveness.”

Earlier on Sunday, Sanders said in a statement that he was “outraged” by the anti-Semitic attack in Monsey. “We must confront this surge of anti-Semitic violence”, he wrote, “and bring people together instead of dividing people up.”

On Saturday an attacker stabbed five people at the home of a Hasidic rabbi while they were celebrating Hanukkah in Monsey. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it would be prosecuted as a case of domestic terrorism. 

The suspect fled the scene, but the New York City Police Department arrested him after locating his vehicle, confirmed Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel. Police have identified him as Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, New York. Weidel said the suspect faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently leading most national polls in the Democratic primaries, said: “The horrifying rise of anti-Semitism is tearing apart the fabric of our communities and the soul of this nation. We've got to stand together as a country and fight these flames of hatred.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, another leading Democratic contender, harshly condemned the attack in Monsey, writing on Twitter: “I'm heartsick for the victims of this horrific attack. This is unfortunately just the latest of a series of anti-Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. We must fight anti-Semitism and make clear that hateful bigotry has no place in our society.”

Pete Buttigieg, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination and has recently led in several polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, wrote: “This cannot be tolerated. On the morning of the last night of Hanukkah, let us all rededicate ourselves to ensuring that light beats back darkness. Never again."

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota mentioned the attack in a town hall meeting she held in Iowa, calling it “horrific.” She added that hate crimes of this kind should be confronted “in every form and at every turn.”