Friday, November 03, 2006

Cowardly attack in Midwood

It happened in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, not far from where I live and havel lived all my life. Not all the facts are in, but it appears that a Pakistani immigrant in his 20's, enjoying an ice cream and minding his own business outside a Dunkin' Donuts, was set upon by five Jewish youths, at least one of whom sported brass knuckles. The goons shouted epithets, "Muslim terrorist," "Muslim motherf---er, get out of our country" and such as they beat him savagely. The victim is in Bellevue Hospital and will require reconstructive surgery. The police have five men in custody, all Jewish, and are prosecuting it as a hate crime.

I feel personally violated. We're used to "frum" Jews involved in white collar crime, but violent crime - the acts of Eisav - is supposed to be the province of other people. Goons in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst set upon passersby with baseball bats and tree limbs because their skin is the wrong color. My neighborhood is supposed to be safe; anyone can walk here day or night and nothing will happen to him. If the facts are as described, we have an unspeakable hillul Hashem. An innocent man beaten for no reason other than being Muslim. Isn't that what we suffered through the centuries? Kishinev anyone? Crown Heights? I thought we were supposed to be better. What if the goons did have reason to believe that the man they beat up was a terrorist? Call the police or the FBI! Who on earth made them judge, jury and executioner? And what of all the onlookers on that busy street? Nobody stepped in to help? Isn't that what we're constantly complaining about when one of our own is victimized by muggers? And five on one? Brass knuckles? Not only are these hooligans criminals, they're a despicable bunch of cowards. They want to fight terrorists? Let them join the Army and fight the terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Everybody who is anybody in our community must join as one to condemn this cowardly act. If any observant Jew other than the alleged perpetrators' lawyers defend them, it will only compound the hillul Hashem. There is no defense for such an act. And the police have to throw the book. Those goons belong in jail.


Blogger Harry Maryles said...

Couldn't agree with you more.

Fri Nov 03, 10:40:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These kids are off the derech, with at least one being from a broken home. They represent nothing and no one. The community did not hide its head in the sand as it is accused of doing by various outsiders who are often jealous of its cohesiveness and success. Instead, they try to help such kids by providing them with a sponsored hangout, but these centers are not perfect.

I for one doubt they had brass knuckles. I also doubt they knew he was a Muslim. Hindu Indians and Muslim Pakistanis look the same. While the kids clearly need help and maybe prison would scare them straight, this case will prove to be far less clear cut than it is now.

Meanwhile, on Yom Tov in Crown Heights, a group of black youths surrounded a much younger Jewish kid, beat him up and yelled epithets. That was not treated as a bias crime even though everyone knows the kid had no money and the motive for the attack was pure hatred.

We Jews should pity these kids and whatever families they have. It is not as if they are taught to do this at home or in school - they are uncontrollable and need help. Every community has its lowlifes down at the bottom, and this whole story is getting coverage because when Jews attack a Muslim it is "man bites dog!"

Sun Nov 05, 01:46:00 AM EST  
Blogger Zev Stern said...

"Off the derech" kids generally don't commit violent crimes; their behavior is more self-destructive (smoking, drugs) than destructive of others. New York has a gazillion dojos and boxing gyms where these kids can let their aggressions out in a socially acceptable way, and learn some courage and manliness in the process. But having done what these kids apparently did, it's gone beyond the "sponsored hangout" stage; they need to go to jail. I'd say the same thing about a gang of (at least) five goyim beating up a Jew for no reason.
We have the accounts of witnesses and the arresting officers that they asked their victim if he was Muslim and he replied in the affirmative; then the epithets and brass knuckles followed.

Hate-crime prosecutions are hairy. Prosecutors must convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt not only that the defendent committed the crime but why he did it, i.e. prove motive. This is always easier said than done, and police and DAs must weigh many factors including the likely ethnic composition of the jury. It's a delicate judgment call either way. My instinct would be to treat the Crown Heights incident as a bias crime but the authorities might have facts that I don't.

While the alleged perpetrators were not taught in school to send Muslims to the hospital, if they went to haredi yeshivot they were not taught American civics and appreciation for the values of American democracy; indeed, they do not consider themselves Americans any more than their great grandparents considered themselves Poles, Ukrainians or Lithuanians. That directly leads to seeing non-Jews as "goyim" rather than as fellow Americans.

Again, not all the facts are in, but we seem to have a violent crime committed by people wearing the "Jewish uniform," hence a terrible hillul Hashem, and the community's Rabbinic and lay leadership are, as usual, AWOL from their duty to impress upon their youth that such behavior is unacceptable.

Sun Nov 05, 08:51:00 PM EST  
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