Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

Police officers escort Grafton Thomas to a police vehicle on Dec. 29, 2019, in Ramapo, N.Y. after he stabbed multiple people gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi's home in the Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. (AP file photo)
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Updated 23 February 2020

Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

  • Josef Gluck is credited with stopping the Dec. 28 assault in Monsey, New York, and led police to arrest the attacker
  • Grafton Thomas, accused of stabbing five men, was found to have anti-Semitic writings and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone

WEST NYACK, New York: An Orthodox Jewish man credited as a hero for attacking a knife-wielding man who stabbed five people during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City is refusing to take a $20,000 reward from established Jewish groups because he considers them Zionists, according to a rabbi who knows him.
Officials with the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League told The Journal News that they were caught off guard by Josef Gluck’s decision to turn down the reward, the newspaper reported Friday.
“The reward would have been for anybody who offered information that would lead to an arrest,” said Miriam Allenson, spokesperson for the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County. “That was what was on our minds.”
Allenson said that there were no strings with the money and that the groups had “no idea” regarding Gluck’s decision to turn away the funds.
The reward presentation event was scheduled for Feb. 6, but Gluck said he had a family emergency, Allenson said.
Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Monsey said Gluck’s decision stems from the discomfort he and some other Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews have with organizations like the Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League. Feldman said Gluck was preparing to notify the groups in writing to explain in more detail his reasons for declining the reward.
Rabbi Feldman is a leader of Neturei Karta International. Its Orthodox Jewish members believe “the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law.”
“It was his choice not to accept,” Allenson said Monday. “We’re letting it go. There’s nothing else to say.”
Gluck is credited with throwing his body in front of the machete-wielding man and using a wooden table to try and stop the Dec. 28 assault in Monsey, the newspaper reported. He then lured the attacker outside and documented the attacker’s license plate number and alerted police.
Gluck has received several honors for his heroism, including a congressional certificate presented by US Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, of Harrison, the Town of Ramapo’s Freedom Award and a New York State Senate Liberty Medal.
Evan Bernstein, an Anti-Defamation League vice president, said that while the group is disappointed Gluck decided not to accept the award, it will continue to work closely with the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey and elsewhere and offer rewards when merited to assist law enforcement in the investigation of hate crimes.
Grafton Thomas, the man accused in the stabbing, pleaded not guilty on multiple hate crime charges. Investigators found anti-Semitic writings in Thomas’s journals and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone, according to a complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office. Thomas’ defense attorney said last month that a psychiatrist found Thomas incompetent to stand trial.
The attack left five men wounded, including a 72-year-old who remains in a coma with a fractured skull and other injuries.


UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

Updated 28 May 2020

UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

  • The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students
  • Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen

LONDON: Outdoor gatherings of six people from different households will be allowed from next week as part of another easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
But the government's chief scientific adviser cautioned that Britain was at a “fragile" point in its fight against the virus, with some 2,000 new infections still being reported each day.
Johnson, who has faced days of scorn for keeping his top aide Dominic Cummings in post following his controversial travels during the lockdown, said families and friends in groups of up to six can meet from Monday in outdoor spaces, including public parks and private gardens.
Johnson said at a news conference that this was potentially a “long awaited and joyful moment” for parents and grandparents but stressed that people must remain 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.
The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students. Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also easing lockdowns, in slightly different ways.
Johnson said the “limited and cautious” changes were possible because five government-imposed tests have been met. These include “sustained and consistent” falls in virus infections and the daily death rate.
Though the number of people dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen since the peak in early April. The UK still recorded another 377 deaths in all settings including hospitals and care homes, taking the total to 37,837.
“This is not a time to say ‘Everything’s OK, we’re relaxing measures, everything’s going to be rosy," said the government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. "We are at a fragile state.”
Johnson continued to brush aside questions about Cummings, and said that the issue was now closed after police will not take any action on the matter
Johnson has been urged to sack Cummings by political opponents as well as a number of his own Conservative lawmakers after his adviser drove 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house in Durham, northeast England, at the end of March while the country was under a “stay-at-home” order. Cummings made a later journey to a scenic town 30 miles (50 km) away.
Following an investigation, Durham Constabulary said the drive to Durham did not breach the rules but the second trip, to the town of Barnard Castle, might have been “a minor breach” of lockdown rules “that would have warranted police intervention." But the force said “there is no intention to take retrospective action" because no one else has been fined retrospectively.