“Now, after two years of waiting, Lihi is finally seeing justice served,” the Lawfare project, which organized the victim’s defense, said.
By World Israel News Staff
Israeli student Lihi Aharon was violently assaulted on a New York City subway in December 2020.
Hit in the face by Zarinah Ali, an anti-Semitic woman who heard her speaking Hebrew, she fought back and knocked the attacker down, but was left with a deep scar on her face.
During the attack, Ali shouted vulgar antisemitic insults at Aharon and a fellow passenger wearing a kippah. She repeatedly yelled “allahu akhbar” and praised the shooting attack carried out the previous week at a Jersey City kosher market and left six people dead.
Ali was indicted on hate crime charges and pleaded not guilty.
“Initially and inexplicably, the Manhattan District Attorney decided not to pursue a hate crime charge” at the time, “despite the assailant’s unquestionably antisemitic motivation,” The Lawfare Project explained.
“However, thanks to our efforts—which included liaising with the DA’s office and bringing widespread public attention to the case—the DA reversed course and presented the matter to the jury as a hate crime.”
The prosecution of the assailant was repeatedly delayed due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on the court system, TLP said.
“Now, after two years of waiting, Lihi is finally seeing justice served,” the NGO continued.
“The District Attorney has offered the assailant a plea to the misdemeanor charge of Attempted Assault as a Hate Crime. This means that the assailant will have a criminal conviction on her record, and will be forced to complete 26 sessions of anger management, bias training, and will waive her right to appeal. Additionally, Lihi will be granted a five-year restraining order against her attacker—the longest legally allowed.
“We feel that this is a just outcome, as our client does not want her attacker to go to jail, but rather to face consequences for the obviously antisemitic attack,” said Ken Belkin, the attorney who agreed to represent Lihi pro bono in partnership with TLP.
“We believe that this will result in the defendant getting the help she needs to reform her life. We applaud the Manhattan DA’s Office for treating this case with the gravity it deserves, and for taking a firm stand against antisemitic hate crimes in New York City,” Belkin said.