Demonstrators Call on New York's De Blasio to Take Action Amid Spike in anti-Semitic Crimes

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Protesters gather outside New York's City Hall, September 22, 2019.
Protesters gather outside New York's City Hall, September 22, 2019. Credit: Danielle Ziri

NEW YORK — New York Jews and local politicians gathered outside City Hall on Sunday to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials to take action against anti-Semitism in the city.  

“I am calling on the mayor to declare a state of emergency here in New York with regards to anti-Semitism and to deal with all the facets related to it,” former State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said.

“We have a situation that is literally out of control,” Hikind added. “Jews are being assaulted on a regular basis.”

>> Read more: New York’s new anti-Semitism czar warns: No short fix for the longest hatred

While they praised the New York Police Department for its handling of anti-Semitic hate crimes, many of the protesters pointed the finger at de Blasio and other elected officials such as Sen. Chuck Schumer for what they view as a lack of action on the matter.

Former state assemblyman Dov Hikind speaks at the rally in New York, September 22, 2019. Credit: Danielle Ziri

“It is clear that the mayor and others have not done what they should have done,” Hikind said, calling on the officials to “address where the hate is coming from.”

For the first five months of this year, the NYPD has recorded a 64 percent increase in hate crimes compared to the same period last year. Anti-Semitic incidents constitute the majority of these crimes, and attacks on Jews nearly doubled during this time — to 110 from 58.

Earlier this month, de Blasio appointed Deborah Lauter, a veteran of the Anti-Defamation League, to head his new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, a unit he said would focus on prevention and work to find a “holistic approach” to fighting hate.

But Hikind told Haaretz he didn't have much faith in the initiative. “It’s not going to do anything, it’s paper dressing,” he said. “We’re not having an honest conversation.”

Lauter, he said, “will do what is politically required for a mayor that is more progressive than anyone else running for president.”

De Blasio dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Friday and had taken much heat for dividing his time between New York and the campaign trail in recent months.

Protesters call on elected officials to take action against anti-Semitism in New York, September 23, 2019. Credit: Danielle Ziri

“I came here because I’m outraged,” said protester Emily Adler, who has lived in New York for over 30 years. “I’m here to stand in solidarity with the people who have experienced violence and who feel afraid to walk around in New York City.”

Adler added that she is hurt by the recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes and wants to “do something about it.” “I don’t want to be silent,” she said.

Sunday’s event, organized by groups including Hikind’s new Americans Against Anti-Semitism and the Zionist Organization of America, comes just days after an Orthodox Jewish man was violently assaulted and robbed in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

In an incident caught on street surveillance video, the victim, reportedly 24 years old, was walking around 9:30 P.M. on Tuesday when four men ambushed and beat him.

The attack is not being investigated as a bias incident

Earlier this month, at least three violent attacks against Orthodox Jewish men were also recorded in Brooklyn.

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