May 27, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two anti-Semitic incidents have have been reported to police in the Kew Gardens Hills area in less than a week, according to a local elected official.
The incidents have taken place in a neighborhood that has a large Jewish community and come at a time when anti-Semitic attacks are increasing across the city, Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal said.
The first attack took place on Thursday, May 20 outside Yeshiva Kesser Torah, located at 72-11 Vleigh Pl.
Worshipers were leaving a prayer service at the synagogue when an individual came by and yelled anti-Semitic slurs at them and threatened them with a taser, Rosenthal said.
The second incident took place on Tuesday when a group of teenage girls had left a Jewish school they attend on Main Street for their lunch break. They were crossing the street when a driver sped directly toward them, causing them to hurry back onto the sidewalk. As the driver passed them, he yelled “Free Palestine,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal tweeted about the second incident on Tuesday and said that his office is in touch with the NYPD about it.
Second incident in Kew Gardens Hills this week. We are in touch with the NYPD. pic.twitter.com/GznU281tPJ
— Daniel Rosenthal (@DanRosenthalNYC) May 25, 2021
Many have attributed the spike in anti-Semitism across the city to the recent violence in Israel between the Israeli government and Hamas, the militant group in Gaza.
Rosenthal said opponents of Israel sometimes take their criticism of the country directly on Jewish communities. He said the tensions have been made worse by leaders on social media.
“When ever there is a rise in violence in Israel, opponents of Israel tend to take it out on the Jewish communities through out of the world,” Rosenthal said.
“I believe that it has been further inflamed by leaders who have irresponsibly used social media to provoke tensions in order to get more retweets despite that in their roles, they should be leaders and try to calm tensions.”
He said leaders must condemn the violence against Jewish communities.
“Those in positions that have a pulpit need to say that it’s unacceptable, condemn it and that we’re welcome here and do what they can to just lower the tensions overall.”
Rosenthal added that the rise of anti-Semitic attacks is similar to the uptick seen in hate crimes against the Asian American community — where language has direct consequences.
“Last year we had a president who was using inflammatory language towards the Asian community and because of that we saw an increase in hate crimes towards the Asian community,” he said.
“I think that it just shows that when people have a pulpit and they use it in dangerous and reckless ways, it leads to violence for those who don’t deserve it.”