Attacker stabs 5 at Hannukah celebration in New York

NYPD officers stand guard at the door of the Union Temple of Brooklyn after someone drew anti-Semitic graffiti inside. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 December 2019

Attacker stabs 5 at Hannukah celebration in New York

  • The extent of the injuries and the motives behind the attack are unclear
  • NYPD got at least six reports this week that could be motivated by anti-Jewish bias

MONSEY, New York: A man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding five people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said.

The attack appeared to be the latest in a string targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month.

Police said the stabbings happened at around 10 p.m. in Monsey, one of several Hudson Valley towns that have seen an influx in large numbers of Hasidic Jews in recent years.

Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said hours later that New York City police had located a vehicle and possible suspect being sought in connection with the stabbing.

New York City Police wouldn’t immediately confirm whether anyone was in custody.

Top state officials, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Leticia James, released statements condemning the attack.

Photos and videos posted on Twitter showed a large emergency response with paramedics running and pushing stretchers. A number of police and emergency vehicles could be seen in the images.

The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey says it’s aware of the stabbings and was at the scene in Monsey.

Monsey is about an hour north of New York City.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi while they were celebrating Hanukkah.

According to public records, the home belongs Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the synagogue adjacent to the residence.

Several state and local officials have described the location of the stabbing as a synagogue.

Saturday was the seventh night of Hanukkah. Aron Kohn, 65, told The New York Times that he was inside the house when the stabbings occurred.

“I was praying for my life,” said Kohn, 65. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”

Cuomo, who called the stabbings a “cowardly act” has directed the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate the attacks.

“Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” he said in Saturday’s statement. “In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: you do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished.”

Weidel said the five people were taken to hospitals for treatment. It is unclear what the extent of their injuries were. Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack.

The stabbings occurred a month after a man was stabbed while walking to a Monsey synagogue. The man required surgery. It’s unknown if the person suspected in that stabbing has been arrested.

Jewish communities in the New York City metro area have been troubled following a deadly Dec. 10 shooting rampage at a northern New Jersey kosher market. Six people died in the shooting, including the two killers, a police officer and three people who had been inside the store. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.

Around New York City, police have gotten at least six reports this week — and eight since Dec. 13 — of attacks possibly propelled by anti-Jewish bias.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that police presence would increase in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.

Spokesman for the Saudi Arabian embassy in the US, Fahad Nazer, tweeted a message of condolence for the victims and their families on Sunday.


Trump signs order targeting social media giants' legal protections

Updated 38 min 21 sec ago

Trump signs order targeting social media giants' legal protections

  • President lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump escalated his war on social media companies, signing an executive order Thursday challenging the liability protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.
Still, the move appears to be more about politics than substance, as the president aims to rally supporters after he lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.
Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism. He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.
Trump and his allies, who rely heavily on Twitter to verbally flog their foes, have long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives on social media by fact-checking them or removing their posts.
“We’re fed up with it," Trump said, claiming the order would uphold freedom of speech.
It directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies — though experts express doubts much can be done without an act of Congress.