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Since Saturday, I’ve had a hypothetical in mind: what if this shooting had happened to Haredi Jews, like those in Brooklyn or Lakewood? Would we have had such an outpouring of support, such an outcry against what transpired?
For as much as we’ve heard about increases in anti-Semitism, the vast majority of the incidents contained within the statistics are vandalism incidents in cemeteries, etc. The most horrifying stories I’ve ever heard, bar none, come from my friends who can never hide their Jewishness (not that they would ever try); Haredi Jews and those who wear yarmulkes; women who wear a wig and a long skirt with stockings.
Just a week or so ago, Jewish men in Brooklyn were assaulted in the middle of the street. Viciously attacked. The news didn’t spread past Jewish media much, but the Times of Israel reported on the crimes,
On Sunday, an identifiably Orthodox Jewish man was beaten at a traffic intersection in Brooklyn in an assault that was investigated as a possible hate crime. The assailant has been identified as 37-year-old cab driver Farrukh Afzal. He has been charged with assault, criminal mischief, and harassment. He reportedly attacked the victim, identified as Rabbi Lipa Schwartz, 62, because he thought he was an Orthodox Jewish man who had stepped in front of his car earlier in the day.
Yeshiva World News reported that hate crimes charges were dropped and the incident has been labeled a road rage incident. Schwartz claims that Afzal shouted “Allah, Allah,” said he wanted to “kill all Jews,” and made references to Israel throughout the attack. Afzal’s wife told the New York Daily News that her husband, who is from Pakistan and is Muslim, is schizophrenic and was acting out because he did not take his medication.
But now, in a post-Pittsburgh world, are crimes committed against “ultra-Orthodox” Jews worthy of attention? It’s not looking that way. In the Haredi enclave of Lakewood (my husband Seth’s hometown), here are two items from today alone:
- Authorities are investigating the discovery of a doll with a knife through it, hanging
near a Lakewood school. The doll, wearing what appears to be similar to a school uniform, had a knife
through its head.
- Police are investigating a Jewish store owner’s front windows being shot out with what appears to have been a BB gun in a potential anti-Semitic incident in the nearby town of Howell. The Lakewood community is expanding into nearby towns, and there is a great deal of anti-Semitic animus towards this expansion; the store owner attributes the crime committed against his property towards that animus.
In response to the events in Pittsburgh, there were police helicopters flying close to the ground in Lakewood all day, and the police department announced the return of a K9 unit to the township, which can be used for bomb-sniffing and missing persons cases.
In a few weeks, barring any (God-forbid) additional attacks, anti-Semitism will likely fade back into the background of American life. But for Orthodox enclaves across the country, it will remain as present as it’s always been. If the media and politicians care as much as they claim to about the scourge of Jew-hatred, they’ll stop turning a blind eye towards the crimes committed against Jews who don’t dress like everyone else.