BY JIM MUSTIAN
Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed a state hate crimes task force to investigate the assault this week of an Orthodox Jewish man in Manhattan — the latest in a string of antisemitic attacks in the area.
“This horrific and cowardly act of antisemitism is repugnant to our values, and it’s even more despicable that it occurred over the holidays,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We have absolutely zero tolerance for bigotry and hate, and we will continue to call it out whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.”
New York City police said the attack happened Monday morning on the Upper East Side. They said Steven Jorge, 28, of Miami, Florida, made antisemitic remarks and punched the 65-year-old man in the face with a closed fist.
Police said Jorge then kicked the man while he was on the ground. The man received cuts to his face and hand, police said.
Jorge was booked with assault as a hate crime. It was not clear whether he had an attorney to comment on the charge.
Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the victim had been wearing a black yarmulke and checking his cellphone when the attack happened on East 41st Street.
“The attacks against Jews are out of control, and we must have a concrete strategy to address the rise of these attacks,” said Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism. “What is happening in New York City with attacks against Jews has created a deep and growing concern in our community.”
The attack came less than two weeks after a deadly shooting rampage at a New Jersey kosher market that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement. The gunbattle and standoff in Jersey City left six people dead — the two killers, a police officer and three people who had been inside the market.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday offered a $10,000 reward for information in a separate assault this week on a Jewish man in New York. The group said that attack happened Tuesday in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
“We are appalled at the sheer frequency and aggressive nature of these incidents,” Evan Bernstein, the group’s regional director in New York and New Jersey, said in a news release. “They’re made particularly heinous by the fact they are occurring during a time when society is supposed to come together in peace for the holidays, and as the Jewish community is particularly on edge as it’s reeling from the deadly attack in Jersey City on Dec. 10.”
In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the string of antisemitic attacks.
“The despicable crimes committed against our Jewish community over the last 24 hours are an attack on ALL New Yorkers,” he wrote. “The NYPD is actively investigating all of them and will bring the perpetrators to justice.”
With additional reporting by Robert Pozarycki of amNewYork.