NEW YORK – About 250 people gathered at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza Tuesday afternoon to express their solidarity with the Jewish community, three days after the stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey and in light of rampant anti-Semitic incidents in the New York area.
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Participants gathered by a tall menorah placed at the plaza for the Hanukkah holiday. They carried signs reading “I stand with my Jewish neighbors”; “White, brown, black, all together fighting back”; and “Muslims and Jews are allies”
The rally, entitled “Safety in Solidarity,” brought together religious leaders from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Sikh communities, who addressed the crowd. Among them were leaders of Reform and progressive congregations, as well as New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams. Representatives of the New York City Commission on Human Rights were also present.
“We want to make sure we are standing in solidarity with the Jewish community and being able to not only say [anti-Semitism] is wrong, but do something that is going to illustrate that it’s wrong,” one of the organizers of the event, Palestinian-American Brooklyn native Murad Awawdeh, told Haaretz.
Awawdeh said he believes it is vital for other communities to stand with Jews at this time.
“As a Palestinian-American Muslim, given the amount of vitriol and hate that we’ve received as a community, it’s really important that we stand up for other impacted individuals,” he said. “If it’s not happening to you right now, there is a good possibility it could happen to you down the road – so if you stand up, you might as well stand up for everyone.”
Although left-wing organizations promoted the event and figures such as Linda Sarsour were in attendance, Awawdeh also told Haaretz that organizers are not “trying to make this a political thing.”
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“We’re not going to allow people to divide us. This is not about the right versus the left, this is about what’s just – and anti-Semitism is an injustice,” he said. “We can’t stand around allowing that to perpetuate itself here in one of the most diverse cities in the world, regardless of political views.”
On Saturday night, a man with a scarf covering his face walked into the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey, New York, during Hanukkah celebrations and began stabbing people with what witnesses described as either a “very large knife” or a machete.
The attack, which left five people injured, was the latest in a string of assaults on Jews in recent weeks. A shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City on December 17 killed three people and a police detective. And over Hanukkah alone, Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and Manhattan have been physically assaulted in multiple incidents. The victims have been men and women of all ages.
The number of hate crimes against Jews in New York City has risen significantly over the course of 2019. The New York Police Department has reported 311 total hate crimes from January through September, as opposed to 250 throughout the same period in 2018. Those figures were from Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari, who heads the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.