Itongadol.- An Israeli yeshiva student was stabbed on Monday at one of New York’s most well known synagogues, in what some in the Jewish community are already calling a hate crime. The victim, identified by the Yeshiva World News website as 22-year-old Levi Yitzchok ben Raizel of Betar Illit, was initially reported to be in critical condition, although a subsequent update listed him as conscious.
Israeli man stabbed outside Chabad headquarters in New York
The attack occurred around 2 a.m. at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The building, which houses a synagogue and study hall, serves as the international headquarters of the Chabad hassidic movement and attracts visitors from around the world.
Chabad\’s headquarters recently hosted an annual gathering of the movement’s 4,200 emissaries, who serve as its representatives around the world.
The attacker, an unidentified African-American described as a homeless man by the Daily News, entered the building and, according to witnesses, asked for a book. He subsequently left but then returned and took out a switchblade, menacing a group of students before stabbing Levi Yitzchok.
“He was stabbed in the side of the head. He was conscious but he was bleeding a lot,” one witness told the Daily News.
The victim ran outside after the stabbing and was treated at the scene by Hatzalah before being brought to the hospital. Police arrived almost immediately and confronted the attacker inside the building. He initially dropped the knife but picked it up again as one of the policemen approached, causing the officer to open fire, wounding him. The assailant later died of his wounds.
Although Yeshiva World News reported the incident as a hate crime, it is still unclear what motivated the attack. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Anti-Semitic incidents declined 19 percent in the United States in 2013, although Jewish communities have been working to increase security since April’s shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas.
New York community leaders expressed concerns over their constituents’ safety last December over reports of a so-called knockout game in which participants attack innocent bystanders, attempting to render them unconscious with a blow to the head. Most of the victims of the knockout attacks in New York were Jewish, although it is unclear whether the attacks were part of a larger pattern or merely unconnected street crimes lumped together. In response, the New York Jewish Community Relations Council offered a five thousand dollar reward for any information leading to the arrest of a knockout game participant.
The last high profile incident to occur in New York was an assault against an orthodox couple on Manhattan’s upper east side over the summer in an attack apparently prompted by Israel’s invasion of the Gaza strip.
The World Zionist Organization immediately condemned Monday’s attack as anti-Semitic.
“The Jews are easy prey to hatred and incitement spreading around the world at any time. The stabbing at the Jewish Chabad House joins a sharp and significant increase in violent anti-Semitism in France, Belgium, Europe and, of course, the United States,” said Yaakov Hagoel, head of the WZO’s department for combating anti-Semitism.
Hagoel called upon US authorities to “wake up” and address anti-Semitism with a firm hand.
The attack also prompted calls for Israeli action, with MK Yoel Razvozov, chair of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, stating that “the policies of the Israeli government fail to stop the attacks against the Jews of the Diaspora.”
“As a Jewish state we have to ensure that the Jews of the Diaspora will be able to live in their country without fear…Therefore I urge the Prime Minister and the Minister of Diaspora to act in all ways at their disposal to stop the strengthening of anti-Semitism, and to prevent such incidents repeat themselves,” he said.