The videos have become all too familiar: Hasidic Jews viciously, violently attacked on the streets of Brooklyn. Last week, there were two such violent attacks, both on the streets of Williamsburg, plus a couple of verbal incidents, including one in which a traffic officer reportedly called a driver a “stupid Jew.”
In the video of one of the physical attacks, a man is seen running up from behind and punching a Hasidic man in the head. The assailant runs away gleefully as his victim stumbles back to his feet. Children are visible in the video; it is broad daylight. What happens next is the most troubling part: nothing.
An investigation is under way as the police search for the suspects, but no one ties these attacks to a larger problem. Some elected officials, like City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, at least make statements about the attacks. “There has been a shocking number of unprovoked assaults on religious Jewish New Yorkers in recent weeks,” Deutsch warned in December. Since then, he and two other council members have proposed allowing houses of worship to hire private security and then be reimbursed by the city.
Many others, however, rarely speak up, if at all. They may register mild disapproval, but there is no one sounding the alarm about rising anti-Semitism, mainly targeting the Orthodox community in its own enclaves in the Big Apple.
In the wake of President Trump’s election, New York City liberals affixed “No place for hate” signs to their windows, vowing to protect anyone targeted for his beliefs and identity. Today, Orthodox Jews are learning that that noble promise doesn’t cover them.
The problem for all the silent elected officials is that the perpetrators of these violent crimes don’t fit neatly into their political-enemies list. They aren’t MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacists. There are no tiki torches. The attackers clocking Jews probably don’t have a manifesto or a philosophy.
They are just full of hate toward people who look different. That’s precisely what the left pretends to fight against but is finally mute when the victims aren’t in their special victims’ club and, more specifically, when the attackers aren’t as easy a target.
The attackers come from all walks of New York City life. They are black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, men, women. They aren’t so easy to condemn according to intersectional ideology, so our leadership mostly pretends nothing systemic is happening.
The same New York leaders, however, are quick to blame Trump for his alleged role in fanning the flames of bigotry. This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio used the president as a convenient scapegoat for the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in our uber-liberal city.
“What’s happening here in this country, a lot of folks were told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic, it was unacceptable to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission,” he said. The clear subtext was that the president had granted such permission to the haters.
Hate crimes have spiked by 67 percent this year in New York, with anti-Semitic attacks leading the ugly boom. Yet somehow the fact that the city has failed to protect its Orthodox Jews is still Trump’s fault.
It’s hard to imagine similar attacks on any other group, no matter the perpetrator, going similarly ignored. The worst joke is that the larger Jewish community would never stand by while another group was singled out for violence in this way. Yet there are no marches, no speeches and no demands made by the liberal Jewish community in defense of our Orthodox co-religionists.
That’s part of the issue. The victims in these cases are people described as “ultra-Orthodox.” That “ultra” implies something sinister about them. They wear strange outfits and adhere to practices we don’t understand. And yet it’s impossible to imagine that a rash of attacks on Muslims in full burkas going unnoticed.
Speaking up against hate when the victim is particularly sympathetic, or when the attacker can be easily condemned, is easy. But it shouldn’t be this difficult for the mayor and his liberal allies to find the words to condemn violence against our fellow New Yorkers — forcefully, repeatedly — and make sure to follow it up with action.
The attacks, and the silence of progressive New York, are utterly appalling.
Author: Karol Markowicz