The Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a post-Shavuot attack on a group of chasidic men on the Coney Island waterfront early Sunday morning.
"We're looking at it as a possible bias crime," said Police Commissioner Howard Safir on Monday.
But while the assailants, described by police as Hispanics, were said to have used anti-Semitic slurs during the attack, sources say the investigators are trying to determine whether the attack stemmed from a confrontation between the two groups, or a misunderstanding.
Likening a chasidic patrol group to the violent Crips and Bloods street gangs, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has taken the rare step of ordering a grand jury to investigate the April 14 beating of an African-American man in Crown Heights, an incident in which he says members of the patrol group may be involved.
With six weeks to go before the new year, New York City has already recorded a sharp rise in hate crimes over 2005, including a 28 percent increase in anti-Semitic acts.
The NYPD's Bias Crime Task Force investigated 95 incidents directed against Jews through Nov. 5, up sharply from 74 in all of last year. Overall, there were 230 attacks based on race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, up from 214 last year, according to figures released by the NYPD in response to an inquiry by the New York Post. Attacks on gays also rose sharply.
The brutal beating of a Pakistani man in Brooklyn that led to the arrest of five Orthodox youths on Oct. 29 is being viewed in both communities as an isolated incident, even as leaders intensify cooperation efforts.
"It is shocking and disturbing that this incident happened," said Bob Kaplan of the Jewish Community Relations Council. "But there has been years and years of interface between the two communities without incident."
Only in a world transformed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and spiraling Mideast violence could the possibilities of a business deal gone violent, or of a criminal complainant being brutally silenced, be embraced as reassuring.
But that’s what has happened in the last two weeks as two violent incidents involving Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn provoked fears that terrorism could shatter a sense of security already weakened by the attack on the World Trade Center.
The murder of a rabbinical student on a busy shopping strip in Midwood, Brooklyn, Monday night immediately set off fears of an anti-Semitic attack or a spillover of Mideast violence in the heavily Jewish community.
But police on Tuesday had all but ruled out the possibility that Avner Abensour, 26, had been attacked because he was a Jew.
“At this point it has not been deemed a bias incident,” said Lt. David Nadel, the NYPD’s liaison to the Jewish community.
Will Jewish extremism increase in the wake of the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center and other subsequent anti-Semitic acts?
That question emerged this week as the Jewish community struggled for the proper response to the attack on the Los Angeles-area JCC by Buford Furrow, a white supremacist with ties to neo-Nazi groups.
The image of a Jewish-owned store burning in Harlem may have conjured up painful memories this week, but community leaders are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
“To the best of our knowledge, there was no anti-Semitism involved in this incident,” said Michael Miller of the Jewish Community Relations Council.Police are searching for a black man they say threatened to blow up Vets Sports Shops on 125th Street shortly before a fire destroyed the establishment on Saturday.
Brooklyn Bridge gunman Rashid Baz refused to testify in a civil trial against two Tennessee gun dealers, leaving unanswered questions about where and how he obtained a weapon used in a deadly 1994 attack on a van full of chasidic students.
Baz, serving a 141-year sentence for the murder of student Ari Halberstam and the wounding of three others, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court last Friday. He was subpoenaed by defense attorneys in the civil suit, which charges that the defendants are liable for the attack because they market parts that form a gun favored by criminals.
An attorney for two Tennessee gun makers on trial for liability in the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge shootings began his defense last week by trying to link the chasidic victims of the crime to Hebron murderer Baruch Goldstein.
At the opening of a $39 million federal lawsuit Friday against Wayne and Sylvia Daniel, who manufactured the parts for a gun used in the shootings, the defense questioned survivors of the attack about Goldstein, whom he referred to repeatedly as “Rabbi Goldstein.”