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Anti-Semitic graffiti strikes Fresh Meadows

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Early on May 18, days after the anniversary celebration of the end to the Holocaust, up to 20 or so residents walked to their cars parked along 164th Street between 65th and 67th avenues to find the phrase "Kill All the Jews" coupled with a swastika scrawled in black marker on their windshields and hoods. Below the phrase was written a date: "7-14-05." Theresa Manzo was taking her 7-year-old daughter to school that morning. When they saw the slur on Manzo's sedan, her daughter said "but, Mommy, we're not even Jewish." "I had to explain to her what it meant and that unfortunately some people say mean things to people they don't even know," Manzo said. According to residents, the incident was not the first anti-Jewish defacement seen in this predominately Jewish neighborhood. On the corner of 164th Street and Jewel Avenue alone in the last few months such graffiti was found on a pay phone, at bus stops and inside an apartment complex, they said. Residents and police agree that each act was done in similar handwriting to those written on the string of cars last week. What concerned residents about this crime more than the others, however, was the date, "7-14-05," which was the anniversary of when Hitler outlawed all political groups other than the Nazi Party in 1933. At a news conference held on the corner the day of the incident, Michael Nussbaum, of the Queens Jewish Community Council, vowed to "be here" on July 14.. Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), spurred by last week's acts, recently introduced a resolution that calls for all bias-motivated acts to be punishable under the state's Hate Crimes Law, regardless of whether that act was directed at a specific person or group. As the law stands now, a biase incident, such as burning a gasoline-drawn swastika at an intersection Ð done in Staten Island in July Ð falls under criminal mischief, arson or reckless endangerment charges, since it was not directed at a specific person or someone's property, such as a home or synagogue. "Just last week we celebrated the end of World War II," Borough President Helen Marshal told the news conference. "War was fought to end this kind of thing."Other elected officials present included Assembly members Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) and Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, who was in Vienna when the Nazis stormed in years ago, said that in his 53 years as rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills he had at times heard "people screaming and yelling" hate slogans. "But nothing like this," he said shaking his head. "Never like this."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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