Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Stringer and Jewish Leaders Condemn Anti-Semitic Acts
Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president and a likely candidate for mayor, held a press conference on Tuesday with a group of Jewish leaders to denounce what he said was a rash of anti-Semitic episodes in the city.
Standing on the edge of Bryant Park in Midtown, across the Avenue of the Americas from a row of stores where swastikas were discovered scrawled on the storefronts on Sunday, Mr. Stringer described what he said was “a disturbing trend” of anti-Semitic acts in recent months.
In November, someone set three cars on fire and scrawled swastikas on park benches in a heavily Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn. Days later, in the same neighborhood, a vandal altered a sign at the Avenue J stop on the Q train to read “Avenue Jew.”
“We are asking New Yorkers for help in tracking down the people who are spewing this hate, and we’re also telling the N.Y.P.D.’s hate crime unit that we are involved, we are committed,” Mr. Stringer said.
Mr. Stringer, who is one of only two Jews among the field of prospective 2013 mayoral candidates — the other is the newspaper publisher Tom Allon — was joined by several Jewish community leaders, including Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, William E. Rapfogel, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and Michael Landau, the chairman of the Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations of the West Side. Two council members, Ydanis Rodriguez and Gale A. Brewer, also spoke.
Mr. Stringer praised the Police Department’s hate crimes unit, while asking the police to release data on the number of hate crimes reported in the city in 2011, because, he said, “we need to analyze more fully where this trend is going.”
Asked why these particular stores had been targeted for vandalism, Mr. Stringer said he did not know. Nor did he have a broader theory about what was fueling the anti-Semitic acts. But he was emphatic that such acts should not be tolerated.
“We’re not going to let these two-bit punks cause damage to our city,” he said. “We’re going to go get them.”
Last week, the police said a 40-year-old man under arrest had admitted to having carried out firebomb attacks on an Islamic center, three homes and a bodega in Queens and on Long Island. The attack on the Islamic center had raised concern that it was motivated by anti-Muslim prejudice. The police said the man seemed to have been motivated partly by prejudice, but also by personal grudges.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was asked about the swastikas discovered on the storefronts.
“There are sick people everyplace,” the mayor said. “We take everything very seriously. If it was real, and if it was done in other locations, you’d take it more seriously, obviously. I don’t know what goes through the minds of the people that do that. The swastika is a symbol of a terrible period in human history, and why anybody would want to use it, I don’t know. We’ll make sure we take a look and see.”