Jewish student attacked for wearing IDF-emblem hoodie in NY

Calling the attack “abhorrent and unacceptable,” the governor of New York said it is being investigated by the state’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Jewish college student was assaulted in Brooklyn, NY Sunday when his attacker saw his army-style hoodie with the IDF emblem emblazoned on it, The New York Post reported Monday.

Blake Zavadsky and his friend, Ilan Kaganovich, were outside a shoe store around 11 AM when they were approached by two men who asked them what they were doing in “their” neighborhood, Zavadsky told the paper.

“They called us ‘dirty Jews,’” he said. “The one who punched me said if I don’t take my sweatshirt off, he’s going to rock me.” When he refused the demand, the man punched him twice in the face and dumped an ice coffee over him before the pair fled.

Kaganovich, who said that the assailants warned him not to get involved, was in shock over the incident.

“I can’t believe this happened,” he said. “We should be able to wear whatever we want to wear. Blake and I are Jewish. We should support Israel without it being a problem. My family moved from the Soviet Union for this reason – to be able to live a better life.”

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Another part of the incident that disturbed them was that although the attack happened in broad daylight and there were other people in the street, the passersby did nothing to help them, the young men added.

Zadavsky, however, was not deterred by the antisemitism he had just painfully experienced, and would continue to wear his hoodie.

“You can’t be scared to walk outside and say you’re Jewish,” he said. “You have to be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe — and not be intimidated.”

Believing, as Zadavsky said, that “all we have to do is spread the word and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he and Kaganovich told their local councilwoman, Inna Vernikov, what had happened. As a first-generation American to Ukrainian immigrants, she, too, compared the attack to the Jew hatred common in the former USSR.

“Jews were beaten, jailed, and ostracized from society just for being Jewish,” she told the Post. “We escaped to this country for freedom of religion, and here we go again, getting beaten up in broad daylight in the middle of Brooklyn, NY, in the United States of America.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the assault in no uncertain terms.

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“Yesterday, two Jewish men were verbally & physically attacked in Brooklyn,” she tweeted. “This is abhorrent and unacceptable. Antisemitism & all hate has no home in New York.”

The state police Hate Crimes Task Force is “assisting the investigation” she added.

According to the New York Police Department, hate crimes doubled in New York City in 2021 to over 500 cases, with Jews being the victims over 36% of the time. This, when the Jewish population the city is approximately 12% of the total, as per 2016 statistics.