(New York Jewish Week) — The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office indicted a suspect on hate crimes charges for allegedly attacking an Israeli tourist near Times Square on Oct. 18.
The indictment, filed Tuesday, came as the NYPD released hate crimes statistics showing a sustained surge in antisemitic incidents since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
According to the indictment, in the Times Square incident 11 days after the Hamas attack, defendant Yehia Amin, 28, allegedly stalked and punched a 23-year-old Jewish Israeli who was walking with four friends at around 9:30 p.m. The Jewish men were all wearing kippahs when they passed by Amin, who recognized them as Jewish and began to pursue them.
Amin taunted the group, telling them, “Hamas should kill more of you,” “May Allah kill all the Jews,” and “All Jews should die,” according to the District Attorney’s Office. While Amin pursued the Israelis, he blasted music from his bluetooth speaker that he later described as “Hamas music.
The Jewish group tried to report Amin to a security guard, then headed to a train station to leave Times Square, but Amin continued following them, saying, “All Jews are crybabies,” and “I want to kill you for Gaza,” the indictment says. After around 10 minutes of harassment, Amin ran up behind the victim and punched him in the back of the head, causing substantial pain and minor injuries.
Amin fled the scene and the Israeli tourist and his friends followed him. A police officer joined the pursuit, caught Amin, and arrested him. While under arrest, Amin continued to shout antisemitic statements, including, “God kill all the Jewish people,” the District Attorney’s Office said.
Amin was charged with stalking in the first degree as a hate crime; assault in the third degree as a hate crime; and stalking in the third degree as a hate crime. He was also indicted for one count of aggravated harassment in the second degree. The case is being handled by the New York State Supreme Court.
“Violence stemming from hate and discrimination will not be tolerated,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement announcing the charges.
This is the latest of a few indictments from Bragg’s office for anti-Jewish hate crimes. Late last month, two women were charged after allegedly attacking a passerby who confronted them while they were tearing down posters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza. The week after the war started, a 19-year-old was charged for attacking an Israeli on the Columbia University campus.
Also Tuesday, the NYPD released hate crimes data for last month, indicating that a previously documented surge in antisemitic crimes in the city since Oct. 7 has continued.
There were 62 antisemitic hate crimes reported to police in November, averaging more than two incidents per day. The figure for antisemitic incidents last month represented a 32% increase over the same period last year, and was similar to the 69 antisemitic attacks reported in October. Anti-Jewish incidents made up 65% of all hate crimes reported to police last month. There were seven anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 294 anti-Jewish hate crimes, according to the NYPD. During the first 11 months of last year, when the total number of hate crimes against all groups were higher, there were 253 antisemitic incidents. Jewish security groups have said many antisemitic attacks likely go unreported. Recent incidents have included graffiti, physical assaults and threats. Jewish groups have also reported a spike in antisemitism nationally since Oct. 7.
Before the outbreak of the war, the previous high-water mark for antisemitic incidents this year was in March, which saw 32 antisemitic incidents reported to police.
Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials
Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.
After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.
“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”
In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.
The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.
“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.
A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.
Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.
The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology
A woman who stormed a church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday with an AR-15 rifle and shot one person before being killed by police was apparently a Hamas supporter, according to details on the incident reported by CNN.
On Monday, the outlet reported that “Free Palestine” was written on the shooter’s rifle.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the shooter has since been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. The woman has an extensive criminal history which includes arrests for marijuana possession, assault, theft, and forgery.
On Sunday afternoon, Moreno walked into the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — an institution famous for being the church of charismatic Christian preacher Joel Osteen — with a child and a gun. Wearing a trench coat and a knapsack, she threatened to have explosives, according to multiple reports. Most of the worshipers in attendance were Hispanic and attending a Spanish language service.
Moreno shot one man, leaving him critically injured, and was shot and killed by Houston Police. A child was also shot during the incident, but police are still unsure of whether they or Moreno are responsible for doing it.
“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference later in the day.
An investigation of Moreno’s motives is ongoing.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’
A London theater is facing legal action after an Israeli man was hounded out of a comedy show on Saturday night by a comedian performing a one-man show that turned into what some audience members compared to an “antisemitic rally.”
A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said the group was in touch with the Israeli man and other members of the audience who fled from the theater.
“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the CAA spokesperson told London’s Evening Standard news outlet. “These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”
The comedian, Paul Currie, had been performing a one-man show entitled “Shtoom” at London’s Soho Theater. Towards the end of his performance, he retrieved a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag and invited members to stand and applaud.
After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to a man in the second row of the theater and quizzed him over why he had not stood up.
The unnamed man, an Israeli, replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.
As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”
In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: ” Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/ get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”
He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”
The theater eventually apologized, issuing a statement expressing regret an “an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.” It added: “We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”
Currie has remained largely silent since the incident, save for a post on Instagram which quoted Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” He then added: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”
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