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January 27, 2012

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tlERtT'AGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 27, 2012 i PAGE 17A A rash of swastikas, with question marks By Adam Dickter Assistant Managing Editor The New York.lewish Week The reports of swastika in- cidents and other crimes lately seem to appear so fast that it's hard to keep track of them. But io some cases, the episodes may have an awkward, if not bizarre, explanation. Police last Mofiday arrested a Jewish man from Manhattan for making anti-Semitic phone calls to his mother and other women, and he is also suspected ofpaintinganti-Semitic graffiti. David Haddad, 56,wasarrested last Sunday for making anti- Semitic phone calls including a De c. 11 call to his mother in which he said 'dl Jews should die and go to hell:' He was also charged with painting swastikas on the doors of some apartments at the Penn South apartment complex in Chelsea. Because ofthat crime, authoritiesarereportedlyinvesti- gating whether he is connected to another graffitiattackinMidwood over the weekend. Attacks Haddad reportedly knew nearly all of the victims, some of whom were his relatives, according to the New York Times. He reportedly was in a business dispute with his family, which may be. the reason for the attacks. A spokesman for Brooklyn DistrictAttomey Charles Hynes said Haddad would be charged with two counts of aggravated harassment as a hate crime and two more counts of aggravated harassment in the second de- gree and that other charges may be added. Hynes is prosecuting the case because some of the call recipients live in Brooklyn. Marc Stern, legal expert for the American Jewish Commit- tee. said that while he did not know of other cases of a Jew being charged with bias against Jews since New York passed its hate crimes law in 2000. there was no reason why it couldn't happen. "As an evidentiary matter it may be hard to prove, but there is no impediment." said Stem. "It's certain the legislators ha but there is nothing wrong with it." A series of sw painted the garage owned house on Ea., y not what I in mind, inherently ,tikas were )f a Jewish- t 5th Street in Midwood two wseks ago as well as on an apartment build- ing across the stree.Thewords "Die Jews" were alsq painted on the garage. A building of the Yeshiva of Brookly vandalized. Councilman Da field, who represel Midwood, saidthep religion made little ' Overall we are : of anti-Semitism i: of swastikas in tt weeks, in Queensar on a scale that we seen before, so the 1 have an individual is comforting," he interview Tuesday. "I think Jewish capable of anti-Sen don't see it as a m versus non-Jew. A n was also eid Green- ts part of rpetrator's difference. ,eeing a lot I the form e last few dMidtown. have never act that we in custody said in an people are litism, so I tter of Jew ot of these acts have no particular rhyme or reason." The vandalism, discovered last Sunday mornin follows an inci- dent in November in anearby area ofMidwood, when, onthedayafter the anniversary of Kristallnacht, swastikas were painted on the ground on Ocean Parkway and several cars were torched. But in that incident, police are now considering the pos- sibility that it was an insurance scare disguised as a bias crime, local media reported. A police source told The Jewish Week last Tuesday that that information %vas released too soon" and that Hate Crimes investigators had yet to make a conclusion. A swastika was also found scrawled in the heavily Jewish Wythe Avenue housing complex in Williamsburg on Jan. 12. and four days earlier several storefronts on Sixth Avenue near Bryant Park in Midtown were targeted with swastikas. including a bookstore and clothingshop.Nonewas overtly Jewish:owned. Security cam- eras captured a group of youths identified as Asian carrying out the vandalism, according to the Village Voice, but no suspects have been arrested. Michael Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New York, said he had confidence in the police to uncover both the culprits and their motives in all these incidents. "It's much too early to deter- mine if this is a wave of anti- Semitism." said Miller. "Until the perpetrators are identified we cafft either rule it in or out. Based on the Hate Crimes Task Force's record in these investi- gations I'm confident justice wilt, be served." The Anti-Defamation League recently announced that it does not automatically classify the painting of a swastika as an anti-Semitic crime because the Nazi icon has become so ubiquitous a symbol of hatred and protest and is often used against non-Jews. In another incident involv- ing a synagogue two weeks ago, thieves broke into Temple Beth-El in the small Bronx com- munity of City Island and stole ritual items, including silver crowns from Holocaust-era Torah scrolls and kiddush cups, shortly before Shabbat. "Instead of preparing to welcome Shabbat with joyful song and dance, community members and clergy arrived to a mess in the sanctuary and police investigators saying, "Don't touchanything,"saidthe congregation's rabbi, Shohama Weiner. and a shul member. David Evan Markus, in an e-mail message to The Jewish Week. "We're lucky: we weren't firebombed like the Temple Beth-E1 of Rutherford, New Jersey; nobody was hurt and our Torahs were unharmed." they wrote. "But the recent spate of violence against area syna- gogues is a sobering reminder of our world's brokenness." JTA contributed to this report From page 1A and Maywood. And on Jan. 11, five Molotov cocktails were thrown through the window of a synagogue and rabbi's residence in Rutherford. N.J.. burning the rabbi's hands and forcing his family to flee from the building. "As I was trying to smother the flames on the windowsill with my blanket. I looked out and saw another incendiary on the roof." Rabbi Nosson Schuman told JTA. "That's when I realized it was a hate crime." The attacks come as an- other New York area neigh- borhood, the heavily Jewish Midwood section of Brooklyn, saw a spate of incidents in recent months, including the torching of parked vehicles, threatening phone calls and swastikas. On Jan. 16, police arrested a New York City Jew- ish man suspected in those attacks, raising the specter that anti-Semitism was not the motive. In New Jersey, no arrests have been made in theattacks, which have undermined the sense of security of one of the country's largest and most established Jewish communi- ties. ADL tripled its original offer for information leading to the arrest of the Rutherford perpetrator, to $7,500, after community members chipped in their own money. "You may get leaders who are publicly putting on a bright face but are privatel concerned about their com- munities," Neuer said. "Anxi= ety is not inherently healthy, but in this particular case it is natural, and what we would like is for leaders to channel that anxiety into better secu- rity policies." In an effort to do that, law enforcement officials met recently with representatives of more than 80 Jewish insti- tutions to discuss security measures for synagogues and schools. The meeting, held at the Paramus headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, re- viewed current lrocedures andintroduced neW measures for tightened secm Jewish communiti "This is a new ty ing for us," said R principal of the Schechter Day Scl- gen County. "We h such a peaceful wa' we've been so b.lei so safe and secure.' has changed the ph ity around es. )e of train- ath Gafni, Solomon ool of Ber- lye lived in so far and sed to feel Fhisattack yingfield." Also over the past two weeks, more than a dozen Jew- ish institutions have reached out for help to the Community Security Service, a nonprofit organization that provides training and services that aim to help tighten security at Jewish facilities. Joshua Glice, the director of synagogue and school opera- tions for the service, told JTA that he had conducted risk assessment studies last week for rabbis at their homes. The attack that raised spe- cial concern in New Jersey was the Rutherford incident, which was the first anti-Jewish attack to result in injury. At 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, Schuman was awakened by the sound of the Molotov cock- tails entering his home, which is attached to the synagogue he leads. Schuman's wife, children and parents escaped from the fire without injury, but the rabbi endured the burns to his hands. Bergen County's prosecutor. JohnMo- linelli, said he will charge the perpetrator with attempted murder, according to The Record newspaper. "Someone was clearly try- ing to kill me and my family," Schuman said, "not just dam- age the synagogue." According to the ADL. New Jersey typically reports one of the higher totals for anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, owing largely to its sizable and visible Jewish population. The ADL's 2010 national audit of anti-Semitic incidents reported 130 incidents state- wide. placing New Jersey third in the nation after California and New York. The figure was 132 the previous year. Most of the incidents in the ADL survey are acts of harass- ment orvandalism; only a tiny minority are acts of physical violence. According to the New Jersey State Police, lews are the reli- gious group most frequently victimized by bias crimes, accounting for 34 percent of the total in 2010. "These crimes are more serious than previous ones," Neuer said. "Four incidents in such a short period of time in a concentrated area suggest something more significant in play here." POlice as of Jan. 17 had not decided whether to treatthe incidents as the work of a single perpetrator or not. A spokesman for the Hacken- sack police told JTA that the attack there and in Maywood are being treated as related incidents. The-other two, he said, have no definitive con- nection. Community leaders are mqre inclined to view the incidents as part of a single phenomenon, though they are hesitant to speculate On what lies behind the recent spate. Anti-Semitic incidents occasionally spike in reac- tion to rising tensions in the Middle East. "I think that if there's division amongst the Jewish people itshowsweakness, and that's when [anti-Semites] attack." Schuman said. "We have to work on Jewish unity." Schuman added that the response following the attack showed that unity among all faiths is possible. At a Saturday night [Jan. 14] interfaith event organized to promote uity and support, more than 250 people of diverse religions attended. "People have sent emails, gave donations and brought over food," Schuman said. "We had a special kiddush. So many people came over with food that we had to share it with the community." Lapid From page 1A wrote Lapid. who for years has flirted with entering politics. A day after Lapid resigned from his job as anchorman of Israel's Channel Two Friday night news magazine to pre- pare for his run for Knesset. another well-known Israeli. Noam Shalit. declared that he also would be a candidate for Knesset. Shalit. who became a household name in the five- year effort to free his soldier son. Gilad. from Hamas cap- tivity, will run on the Labor Party list. The soft-spoken Shalit said he wants to give something back to the coun- try that worked so hard to free his son. Israel's next elections are scheduled to take place in early 2013. but a vote could come sooner if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for new elections or if the current governing coali- tion falls. In any case. Lapid's run could dramatically change the Israeli political game, some analysts say. "This is potentially an ex- plosive transformation." said Rabbi Uri Regev, the director of Hiddush. an organization that promotes religious free- dom in Israel. A poll conducted by Hid- dush found that 43 percent of the general Israeli public and 55 percent of the secular public welcomes Lapid's en- try into politics. One-third of the respondents said they would seriously consider voting for Lapid whether he forms a new party or joins an established one. "This maybe the beginning of the end of the dominion of the haredi parties?' Regev said. But other analysts said Lapid simply will split the center and left-wing vote even further because he will be unable to make inroads into the right-religious bloc headed by "Thls could galvanize the same 20 to 30 seats that belong to this middle-class. secular, mostly Ashkenazi agenda," said Guy Be-Porat, a professor of public policy at Ben-Gurion University. "If you have four parties compet- ing for the same votes, even if you divide it differently, it's still the same." Ben-Porat said that unless Lapid can appeal to the cen- ter-right Likud. Sephardic and Orthodox voters, there will be no change in Israel's political constellation. Efforts to form a secular. centrist party have been tried. Lapid's father led Shinui to an impressive 15 seats in the 2003 elections. Shinui promised the public secular marriage and to sharply cut subsidies to haredim. Neither happened, and by 2006 Shinui had split into a coalition of smaller parties. none of which have made it into the Knesset. Lapid hopes that by tap- ping into last summer's social protest movement he can ride an emerging political wave into the Knesset. Last summer's protests. which brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets, focused on the high costs of living in Israel. particularly for young fami- lies. Netanyah.u responded by forming a government committee led by economist Manuel Trajtenberg to sug- gest changes to Israel's tax code, housing practices and social welfare system. Several of those recom- mendations have become law. including increases in the marginal tax and corporate tax rates, and the extension of free child education to Israeli children beginning at age 3. Part of Lapid's appeal is that he is not a politician. He made the jump from journalism after the Knesset introduced a bill that would have reqmrd journalists to take a six-month "cooling- off period" between leaving journalism and entering politics: it was dubbed the Lapid Law. Lapid made his announcement before the law was finalized, and the mea- sure has since been dropped. Shalit's entry into politics is expected to make less of a splash. "After years of public strug- gle, during which I got to know Israeli society in depth in all its beauty and values. I decided to enter public activ- ity in order to serve the public and be in a position where I can influence the character of Israeli society." Shalit said. "The Labor Party is a social- democratic party that strives for peace, which is why it is my natural home. I believe that under the leadership of Shelly Yachimovich. Labor can lead important measures for Israeli society." Shalit's announcement was greeted with mixed reac- tions. Some criticized Shalit for using his son's captivity as a springboard for entering politics, while others said he could bring a welcome calm to the Knesset. "Politics is about serving the people, and i believe him when he says he wants to serve," said professor Gideon Rahat of Hebrew University and the Israel Democracy Institute. "It's good that good people are coming into politics.'" Rahat criticized Lapid for trying to start his own party rather than joining an exist- ing centrist party, such as Kadima. which Ariel Sharon formed in 2005 as a centrist breakaway from Likud. "We've seen these 'flash' parties com and go." Rahat said. "They come and say the system is corrupt and they want to Change it. But then either they disappear or collapse or split or become corrupt." Kadima. which is the Knesset's largest faction with 28 seats one more than Likud--remains an exception, though polls show Kadima would lose its lead- ing position if elections were held today. Several Israeli analysts said Lapid might have more impact if he challenges Tzipi Livni for Kadima's leadership rather than striking out on his own.