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Anti-Semitic acts climb in Queens in 2000: ADL

Queens incidents included verbal threats, the desecration of a Jewish cemetery and physical...

By Betsy Scheinbart

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents rose by 70 percent last year in Queens from 1999 and by 49 percent across the five boroughs, the Anti-Defamation League said.

Queens incidents included verbal threats, the desecration of a Jewish cemetery and physical assaults, the league’s annual report revealed.

In Queens, 51 incidents were reported in 2000, up from the 30 reported in 1999. In all of New York City, 275 incidents were reported last year, up from 184 in 1999, the league found.

New York state experienced a 32 percent increase and was the state with the most reports of anti-Jewish hate, the league said. Nationally, 1,606 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in 2000, a 4 percent rise from 1999.

“This increase is clearly unacceptable for a city that prides itself on its racial and ethnic diversity,” said Shelley Lieff Parker, chairman of the league’s New York Regional Board and Howie Katz, the regional director.

Katz said there were three plausible factors that contributed to the increase in citywide incidents last year, including an increase in the number of staffers on the hate crimes task force last March.

Many of the incidents occur in the fall around the time of the Jewish high holidays, and last year they coincided with renewed violence between Israelis and Palestinian in the Middle East, Katz said.

Twenty-nine incidents in New York state were tied to the conflict in the Middle East and perpetrated by Palestinian sympathizers, including a threat on the Pahal Zah Falafel Grill restaurant in Forest Hills, Katz said.

The third factor contributing to the increase was the New York State Hate Crimes Law enacted last year, which Katz said encouraged more victims of anti-Semitic crimes to come forward and report the incidents to police.

A Jewish Center located on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park received threatening phone calls almost every day for an entire month before reporting the situation to the police, according to a police report filed after a bomb threat was reported on Feb. 10, 2000.

Police said a 47-year-old Kew Gardens Hills woman was arrested July 24 after allegedly yelling anti-Semitic statement at a Jewish woman and her 1-year-old child from her apartment window.

In October 2000, the desecration of Linden Hill Jewish Cemetery in Ridgewood was reported to the police. Someone spray-painted a curse and the word “Jew” on a tombstone and curses on three mausoleums, according to the police report.

On Nov. 6, 2000 a woman standing in front of a rabbinical seminary in Forest Hills was head-butted in the face while her attacker yelled profanities about Jews, the police brief said. She was treated for a bloody nose. A Forest Hills teen was arrested and charged with the assault.

Katz said there were other incidents that were not anti-Semitic but definite acts of anti-Semitism in Queens, including a flier that made fun of Holocaust survivors with a cartoon, which was found in the Judaica section of a bookstore in Bayside last year.

In a separate incident that drew the attention of the league, the Holocaust denial book, “The Zionists,” was “inappropriately placed” in the black heritage section of the Langston Hughes Library and Cultural Center in Corona, Katz said.

In mid-March Katz met with Queens Borough Library’s Thomas Alford and Joseph Catrambone to discuss the book and 11 other titles that were already correctly classified as Holocaust denial literature.

“The ADL strongly believes books belong in libraries. We’re not for banning or hiding books,” Katz said, but “it’s inappropriate to have a book written by the Institution for the Historical Review, a known Holocaust denial group, shelved in the same section with nothing distinguishing it from a book by Eli Weisel,” he said.

— Jennifer Warren contributed to this story

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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