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Uptick in Anti-Semitic Incidents and Attacks Across U.S. Amid Israel-Hamas Fighting

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

Reports of anti-Semitic vandalism and attacks increased in American cities during the 11-days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Police in New York City arrested a man in connection with the beating of a Jewish man in Times Square on Thursday, labeling the brutal act a hate crime.

Waseem Awawdeh of Brooklyn was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a tweet from police.

The victim, 29-year-old Joseph Borgen, told The New York Post that a man started chasing him as he was walking towards simultaneous pro-Israel and pro-Palestine rallies that evening.

"I tried to get away, and the next thing I knew, I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to kick me, punch me, beat me down," Borgen recalled. "I felt a liquid being poured on my face and at first I thought I was getting urinated on, but it tuned out I was getting maced and pepper-sprayed. My face was on fire. That pain was worse than the concussion and all this other stuff that followed."

He added, "I have a concussion. I had an X-ray on my wrist. It's not broken but it's messed up. Every time I move it it's in pain, probably sprained. I have bruises all over my body. I have a black eye. My face is banged up. I'm just sore all over my body. They were kicking me in my ribs, my stomach."

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Police Commissioner Dermot Shea condemned the attack and said the state police Hate Crimes Task Force was thoroughly investigating the incident.

Detectives tweeted they are looking for several more suspects in connection with the incident. More than 25 people were arrested during Thursday night’s demonstration in Midtown Manhattan.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a violent brawl broke out as pro-Palestinian demonstrators attacked Jewish diners at a restaurant Tuesday, Fox News reports. 

And a Jewish man was walking near his Southern California home when two cars flying Palestinian flags and chanting "Allahu akbar" began to chase him.

"I've taken this route a million times and I've never been afraid," he told Fox. "I was waiting by the light for it to change and suddenly I saw a bunch of cars coming and I see out of the corner of my eye they were waving the Palestinian flag. They started speeding up and I heard them chanting 'Allahu akbar.' That's when I started running for my life."

Authorities in Skokie, Illinois, are working to find out who vandalized a synagogue last Sunday in what is being investigated as a hate crime.

A poster bearing the words "Free Palestine" was found on the door of The Persian Hebrew Congregation, along with a broken window and a possible weapon.

"It's a really scary time to be outwardly Jewish," said Dina Shiner, who grew up attending the synagogue. "This is Skokie. It's a heavily Jewish town. What's bothering me is that everyone is saying, 'Oh, this is just about Israeli and Palestine, it's not about Jews.' No, they're targeting synagogues. That's a direct target on Jews. This has nothing to do with Israel," she said.

And a swastika was drawn on the front door of the Chabad Community Center Synagogue in Salt Lake City, Utah last weekend. 

Rabbi Avremi Zippel said the community will "persevere through this as we have all phases of our storied history. But, the silence surrounding the cheapening of Jewish blood is deafening and downright sad."

Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire Friday morning after 11 days of fighting, threats, and rocket fire in the Gaza strip that left more than 200 people dead.

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