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Jewish Family Violently Beaten by Arabs at Bklyn Public School Graduation

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Jewish Family Violently Beaten by Arabs at Bklyn Public School Graduation

Edited by: Fern Sidman

In a disturbing incident at PS 682 in Gravesend, Brooklyn, a Jewish family was viciously attacked during a fifth-grade graduation ceremony, allegedly by an Arabic-speaking family who shouted inflammatory slogans such as “Free Palestine!” “Gaza is Ours!” and “Death to Israel,!” according to the information provided in a report that appeared on Sunday in The New York Post.  The report indicated that the assault, which occurred right after the ceremony themed “All You Need Is Love,” has been described as one of the most severe outbursts of anti-Semitism in New York City public schools since the October 7 Hamas terror attack in Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.

Lana, a Jewish mother, and her husband Johan, a Dominican Catholic, were subjected to a brutal physical attack in the presence of their 10-year-old twins. According to Lana, the attack started when members of the other family targeted her husband, throwing him to the ground. As was reported by The Post, Johan was placed in a chokehold by one man, while others grabbed his legs, kicking and punching him. A woman from the aggressor’s family reportedly hit Johan repeatedly with the sharp heel of a black stiletto.

“They targeted my family because we are Jewish,” Lana stated, as was noted in The Post report. “A graduation event that was supposed to be joyous and memorable turned into a violent and traumatizing one.” This attack calls attention to a growing concern about the safety and inclusion of Jewish families in the community, highlighting the severe impact of anti-Semitism.

Tova Plaut, a city educator and advocate for Jewish peers, emphasized that this incident was not an isolated case but a culmination of growing anti-Semitic sentiments that have been tolerated in the community. “We consistently warned that tolerating overtly anti-Semitic views would create a toxic environment for Jewish students and families, inevitably leading to physical violence,” Plaut told The Post. “This has now occurred.”

The Jewish community in New York City, already on edge due to rising anti-Semitic incidents, has been further shaken by this violent attack. The escalation from verbal taunts to physical violence marks a dangerous trend that needs immediate attention and action from authorities and community leaders alike.

Despite the severity of the attack and its clear anti-Semitic undertones, the New York Police Department (NYPD) did not initially classify the incident as a hate crime, leading to frustration and outrage among the victims and the broader Jewish community, the report in The Post said. Following pressure from the victims, the Hate Crimes Task Force has now begun an investigation.

Lana and Johan shared their story with the media out of a sense of frustration, hoping to draw attention to the lack of appropriate response from the authorities.

The graduation ceremony itself proceeded without incident until a student crossed the stage wearing a graduation cap marked with “Free Palestine” and waving a small Palestinian flag. Lana, the Jewish mother involved in the later altercation, reported that her mother left the ceremony in protest at this display, as was affirmed in The Post report. A school administrator explained to another parent that the city Department of Education’s legal staff had approved the display as a form of free speech.

After the ceremony, Lana and her husband Johan, along with their two children, began taking pictures in front of a PS 682 banner and balloons. It was at this moment that relatives of the boy with the flag attempted to push them out of the way. “We told them there was space for both families,” Lana recounted to The Post.  An older man from the other family responded with “Free Palestine!” seemingly without provocation. Johan attempted to de-escalate the situation, stating that the graduation was not the appropriate time or place for political statements. According to The Post report, the man then cursed at Johan in Arabic and shouted, “Free Palestine, Gaza is Ours, Death to Israel.”

As Johan engaged with the older man, the situation quickly escalated. “Another man just came out of nowhere, punched me in the head and it was a scuffle,” Johan recalled when speaking with The Post. “From there, I don’t remember much because there was so much going on and so many people on top of me. Then I was put in a chokehold. Somebody was holding my leg. It was chaotic.”

The couple’s last names are being withheld to protect their children’s privacy and safety.

Their 16-year-old son tried to help his father but was punched in the face. Lana, moving towards her son, managed to record a brief video on her cell phone, capturing the chaos before she was also attacked. “A woman from the group came up from behind me, pulled me by the hair, and knocked me down on the ground, shouting, ‘I will kill you,’” Lana told The Post.  She screamed, “Call the cops! Call the cops!”

With no security on site, two male teachers rushed over to break up the attack. The Post reported that Johan was taken to Maimonides Medical Center with scrapes, bruises, and swelling on his head, face, and body. Lana suffered a gash on her leg, and their teenage son had a bloody nose.

Indicated in The Post report was that 26-year-old Ez-Al Dean Bazar was arrested in the melee. He was accused of punching and dragging Johan. According to a criminal complaint filed by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the complaint does not mention his motive, as was explained in The Post report. Bazar was released on his own recognizance, and he and his lawyer did not return The Post’s messages seeking comment.

The NYPD initially did not classify the assault as a hate crime, with one officer telling Lana, “nothing on my body says I am Jewish,” despite Lana and her children being well-known in the school for their Jewish identity. The Post report pointed out that the twins had proudly displayed their Jewish and Dominican roots in self-portraits at a recent art show. Lana did not know the other family, but her son had been in a class with their son the previous year.

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer commented, “Graduations should be times of celebration and joy, and we strongly denounce anyone who acts in a violent or aggressive way during such events,” as was noted in The Post report.

This violent incident highlights the pervasive and dangerous nature of anti-Semitism. The slogans used by the attackers were not mere political statements but expressions of deep-seated hatred towards Jewish people.

 

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