Tag Archives: new york

Turkish Jewish wedding shown live on social media draws anti-Semitic influx

The small Jewish community in Edirne, in northwest Turkey, has waited patiently since 1976 for a wedding in its local synagogue – and when it finally occurred yesterday, the response it drew from other Turks was less than celebratory.


The wedding was set to be such a significant and joyous event that it was decided to broadcast it via Periscope and Twitter – a particularly popular social medium in Turkey. However, it drew the attention of anti-Semites in the country, and the bride, groom and Jewish community in general were told, “Too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job” and the like.

Edirne has a Jewish history of some 1,500 years, but just 50 years ago, only 100 Jews lived in Edirne. Finally, the local Jewish cemetery there was confiscated by the authorities, and then destroyed to make way for a residential neighbourhood.

Then began the upswing. In 2013, the synagogue was renovated, and last year it was opened to the public. Its first wedding, yesterday, drew many members of the budding Jewish community, and the joy was great. Community leader Yitzchak Ibrahimzadeh even decided that it should be shared with the public at large, via Twitter. The happiness turned to consternation, however, as the responses began tweeting in: “Kill the Jews!” “Get out of occupied Palestine!” etc.

Ibrahimzadeh did not lose heart. “Many anti-Semites expressed their hatred on the Periscope broadcast,” he tweeted back. “Together, hand in hand, we will overcome them.” He proudly included pictures of a synagogue, church, mosque and Turkish flag, symbolizing his hope that unity would win the day.

The small Turkish-Jewish community, numbering not more than 17,000, disseminated the news of the anti-Semitic barrage, and it was mentioned in various news media.

Anti-Semitism in Turkey is a common phenomenon. Polls conducted in 2007–2009 showed that 64% of Turks would not want to see Jews as their neighbors, and 76% have a negative attitude towards Jews. A recent article by the New York-based Gatestone Institute entitled “Turkey’s Runaway Anti-Semitism” states that while there is “always an unusual optimism in the official language chosen by Israeli officials or Jewish community leaders [regarding anti-Semitism in Turkey], facts on the ground are a little bit different than the rosy picture.”

Follow this link to the original article here.

anti-Semitic threats found in New York university

Jewish students at the University at Buffalo in New York were threatened by anti-Semitic scrawls discovered on a wall in one of the men’s bathrooms on campus. The vandalism “threatened violence against Jewish people and used a derogatory slur,” according to the campus newspaper, The Spectrum.

In response, the university’s police force increased patrols near the Hillel of Buffalo as a precaution, and patrolled campus locations where students were celebrating Purim last week.

buffaloThe university’s Deputy Police Chief Joshua Sticht called it was an “isolated” incident, according to The Spectrum, but students say anti-Semitism on the campus has happened before, albeit less severe.

“I”ve never seen any form of anti-Semitism like that before,” Jewish Student Union (JSU) president Andrew Meyer told The Spectrum, but noted “I’ve seen swastikas in the past.” However, he added, “that is nothing compared to this.”

Meyer said what was found on the wall is “the most horrific and derogatory term” used against Jews.

It has already been removed, and photos are not available to media.

The newspaper did not print the threats nor did it publish the photos that were sent to The Spectrum. The school’s maintenance staff and the students apparently did nothing about the vandalism for at least two weeks, according to the report, which cited grave concerns of apathy.


University at Buffalo spokesperson John Della Contrada said in a statement that racist and discriminatory conduct would not be tolerated.

“When acts motivated by hatred or discrimination occur, the university will respond promptly to protect the safety and well-being of the entire university community. Diversity, inclusion and mutual respect are strongly held values of our university. We are committed to upholding these values at all times.”

Read more here.

Toms River / Lakewood situation takes new twist

Toms River, New Jersey – Readers may already be familiar with the news that Toms River has implemented a law aimed at putting an end to what many of its residents and leaders labeled overly aggressive tactics by realtors. Some observers suggest the measure is part of a campaign to block an increasing migration by members of the neighboring Orthodox community of Lakewood. Against this backdrop, tensions have simmered over comments made by Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher.Thomas Kelaher

In an interview with Bloomberg News Service regarding the recent influx and his town’s reaction to it, Kelaher was quoted as saying, “It’s like an invasion. It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community — ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t [sell it to me].”

In the wake of its publication, Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller penned an open letter expressing deep offense over the use of the term “invasion,” which he said implied a takeover by a malicious group, and demanded an apology.

Now in the latest twist, representatives of the Chabad Jewish Center filed suit Tuesday in federal court against Toms River and its Zoning Board of Adjustment alleging its refusal to allow small weekly prayer services in Rabbi Moshe Gourarie’s home is a civil rights violation spurred by a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in the community.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court, asks the court to overturn the December decision of the zoning board rejecting the Chabad’s request for an interpretation that its activities were permitted and that Gourarie did not need a use variance to continue them.

The lawsuit, filed by Roman Storzer of Storzer & Greene of New York, in conjunction with Christopher Costa of Kenny Chase & Costa, accuses Toms River officials of violations of the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. It also alleges violations of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) and the Fair Housing Act.

More than 1,200 residents attended the board’s hearing on the Chabad’s application, which had to be moved to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.

“These recent actions to shut down the Chabad took place during a rising tide of anti-Semitism among the Toms River government and population, fearful that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community located in adjacent Lakewood Township will extend into Toms River,” the complaint says.

It cites the statement by Mayor Thomas Kelaher and the recent carving of the words “Burn the Jews” into playground equipment at Riverwood Park.

Kelaher, at a press conference last week, said the comments were simply a recitation of sworn testimony given when the township was considering implementing that ban, which took effect last Friday, March 18. He and others emphasized the conflicts were of a legal nature, not religious.

But the complaint also cites a number of statements made in various places on social media “regarding the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jews describing them as “cockroaches,” “trash,” a “cult,” “he-brews and she-brews,” a “Jewish conspiracy,” “disgusting phonies,” a “joo school,” “damn jews,” “dirty,” and a “disease.”

The result, the complaint says, was a collaborative effort between Toms River officials and residents with respect to various efforts to prevent ultra-Orthodox Jews from adjacent Lakewood Township from moving into Toms River.

“This cancerous movement targeting a specific religious minority has spread into Toms River,” Storzer said. “The use of local ordinances and land use regulation to build a wall around Lakewood should not be tolerated.”

Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a prominent Lakewood askan, said that, based on his experience with Kehaler in the past, he did not believe that his statement, nor other actions aimed at limiting Jewish buyers in the community, was motivated by anti-Semitism, but by “populism.”

“He’s pandering to what he thinks will work well for him politically,” he said.

“What’s the invasion? It’s a town, people are buying and selling,” said Rabbi Avi Schnall of Agudath Israel’s New Jersey division.

He said that aside from the comments themselves, the mayor’s encouragement of “Toms River Strong,” a grassroots movement discouraging residents from putting their homes on the market despite rising values, was “troubling.”

“Toms River Strong is being encouraged from the top; he’s giving them a platform,” said Rabbi Schnall. “He called a town meeting about this, not about crime or any other problems. This shows where his priorities are.”

Read more here.



Well done to New York for standing up to anti-Semitism

AntiSemitismWatch congratulates the organisers of a rally held on Sunday to focus attention on the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents happening in New York City.

We have previously reported on the concerns being raised at City University of New York (CUNY) where anti-Israel protest has strayed across into anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Also, in February this year, a red “KKK” and swastika were found in the Sheepshead Bay area while  a swastika was drawn on the windshield of a car, owned by a Jewish male. Both swastika incidents occurred less than a mile from Holocaust Memorial Park in a District with one of the largest populations of Holocaust survivors.

The rally was organised by local elected officials and a local radio station, Davidzon Radio 620 AM. Over 400 people, including Holocaust survivors and WW II veterans, gathered in front of  Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park’s headstones and eternal light.

“These tombstones are more than just a link to the past.  They must serve as a reminder that we cannot remain silent. It is our duty as members of a free society to speak out when we learn of anti-Semitic or similar acts of hatred.  An act of anti-Semitism anywhere is wrong, but to perpetrate such acts in this beautiful community, home to so many Holocaust survivors, is horrendous,”  said Ari Kagan, a local District leader.

Ari Kagan
Ari Kagan

“Purim – a holiday commemorating the Jewish people’s victory over an oppressor −  is less than two weeks away.  It reminds us that we must take a stand against those who have evil intentions against us. Potential perpetrators of anti-Semitism must know that hate has no place in our neighborhood. Government leaders must know that we expect them to be proactive in preventing future hate crimes and aggressive in investigating and prosecuting when an act of hate does occur,” said Margarita Kagan.

AntiSemitismWatch suggests this is the sort of grassroot action others can take a lead from.

What do you think? Let us know via the comments section below or by email to:


One German bank – Two Jewish controversies

Bank Sparkasse, one of the largest banks in Germany, has managed to generate two separate controversies in a matter of months but with one common theme.

In the first, Israel’s embassy in Berlin together with local and international Jewish groups sharply criticized the banking group for allowing an opponent of the existence of Israel, who likened the Jewish state to the Third Reich, to deliver a talk in its office space titled “Jew against Zionism.”

In the second, a Sparkasse bank teller refused to open an account for an Israeli living in Berlin, telling him that Israeli passport holders are under embargo.sparkasse

Lilian Rosengarten, an activist from New York, spoke last year in a Sparkasse office of the town of Düren, near Aachen. She is a member of the International Anti-Zionist network.

Dr. Robert Neugröschel, the head of the 1,000-member Jewish community in greater Aachen, which includes Düren, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the Rosengarten talk was a “disgrace and of course anti-Semitic.”

Hildegard Förster-Heldmann, a Green Party politician who heads the Darmstadt municipal cultural affairs committee, said, “A comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is absurd, disrespects the descendants of the Nazi victims and belittles the criminality of Nazi Germany.”

Efraim Zuroff
Efraim Zuroff

The action of the bank came in for further criticism from Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter who suggested the people at Sparkasse “should know better.”

“The Ostfriesen paper wrote earlier this year about an exhibit addressing the banking network’s role under the Third Reich, saying that “Sparkasse loyally served the Nazi regime.”

A Sparkasse spokesman, Dirk Hürtgen, suggested the bank “Could not establish that anti-Semitic thoughts were expressed in connection with the Düren municipal museum.”

Asked by the Post reporter if he agreed with Rosengarten’s statement that Israel is an apartheid state, Hürtgen said, “I can’t judge that.” He asked “why is it relevant whether anti-Semitism took place” in the room and noted that there are “different opinions.”

Meanwhile, just today, Ynet News reported that Israeli, Yakir Avraham, went to the Sparkasse’s branch in the Alexanderplatz area of Berlin, and when he gave the teller his Israeli passport in order to open a bank account, the teller took the passport and went into another room to check it. She returned a few minutes later and said “I’m very sorry, but we cannot open up a bank account for you here. We aren’t allowed to open accounts for citizens of countries under embargo.”

Avraham was reported as saying, “I was in shock at first. How did it get to the point that they treat us like lepers? I took my passport and left the bank.”

The bank management were challenged as to whether there was a specific bank policy concerning Israel, and what they meant by “a country under embargo.”

The bank responded by claiming, “It’s clear that this isn’t our business policy. This is an unfortunate mistake made by a young colleague who is still in training, and who didn’t know how to deal with the situation properly. She deeply apologizes for the mistake. We hope that Mr. Avraham accepts our explanation and apology.”




Antisemitic graffiti – New York – Suspect arrested

A man suspected in spray painting Antisemitic and anti government graffiti at six different locations in Staten Island, New York, has been taken into police custody Monday morning.

The man, a 26-year-old Staten island resident, was picked up early Monday morning at his house. After struggling with detectives, he was taken into the 122 precinct, where is currently being questioned.

Charges are pending.

Police have said the person of interest spray painted anti-Semitic graffiti and offensive language against the federal government, including President Barack Obama, at six commercial locations in the New Dorp area of Staten Island.