New York police probe hate crime after Jewish man attacked

Pro-Palestinian protesters in Manhattan, on May 18, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York police were conducting a hate crimes investigation on Friday (May 21) after several people shouting anti-Semitic slurs attacked a Jewish man while pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated in Times Square.

Five or six men beat and pepper-sprayed the 29-year-old man late on Thursday, a police spokesman said.

Officers arrested a 23-year-old man, identified as Waseem Awawdeh, on suspicion of taking part in the assault, and were searching for the others who were involved, as well as witnesses.

The victim was in stable condition in hospital, according to police.

The attack came as protesters gathered in Times Square shortly after a ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian movement which controls the Gaza Strip, after 11 days of conflict.

Scuffles broke out between the protesters, and police arrested 26 people.

"Anti-Semitism has no place in our city," tweeted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"There's no excuse for violence against someone because of who they are," he wrote.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, which has the largest population of Jews outside Israel, declared that they would "not tolerate anti-Semitic violent gang harassment and intimidation."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rising star of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, said on Twitter, "There is no room for anti-Semitism in the movement for Palestinian liberation. Our critique is of Israel and their human rights abuses. This is not an excuse for anti-Semitic hate crimes."

Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that since the outbreak of fighting in Israel, there has been a 50 per cent increase in anti-Semitic acts in the United States.

He pointed to a number of incidents in several states, including two incidents this week in Los Angeles, where supporters of the Palestinians attacked Jewish men sitting outside a restaurant, and also threw bottles at homes of Jews that had the traditional mezuzah parchment on their doors.

"We have seen a dangerous and drastic spike in anti-Semitism here at home in just the past week to 10 days," said Greenblatt.

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