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Manhattan DA Bragg Slow Walks “Soup Nazi” Anti-Semitic Case at UES Restaurant

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Manhattan DA Bragg Slow Walks “Soup Nazi” Anti-Semitic Case at UES Restaurant

Edited by: Fern Sidman

The individual dubbed the “Soup Nazi,” accused of an anti-Semitic attack at a kosher restaurant, remains unapprehended despite public identification and known whereabouts. According to a report that appeared on Saturday in The New York Post, the incident, which occurred at Hummus Kitchen on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, involved the suspect splashing hot soup on a worker and verbally abusing the staff with anti-Semitic slurs.

On the evening of December 13, at around 9:45 p.m., chaos erupted at Hummus Kitchen. The suspect, identified as Mayra Teke from Paterson, NJ, entered the restaurant and launched into a tirade. As was reported by The Post, Teke attempted to pull down an Israeli flag displayed in the restaurant, threw hot soup at an employee, and called the staff “murderers.” A 45-second video captured the disturbing scene, showing a worker calling the police amidst the turmoil as Teke failed to remove the banner.

One video captures an employee’s frantic call to the police: “He’s inside, he’s like inside of our awning. It’s a woman actually. She’s pulling it [the flag] down. She’s leaving, but she’s throwing all the chairs. She’s crazy,” The Post report said. Another video shows Teke throwing soup and flipping the bird as she walks out. This footage, posted on social media platform X, has since garnered over 13.5 million views, highlighting the widespread outrage and demand for justice.

Despite the clear evidence and the suspect’s identification, progress towards justice has been slow. According to a source familiar with the investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been hesitant in issuing an arrest warrant, causing frustration among those seeking justice, The Post reported. The source told The Post, “The bulk of the investigation has been concluded, but the suspect lives in another jurisdiction. They need the DA to issue that arrest warrant.”

Mayra Teke’s identity was confirmed by both a neighbor and a family member. Three days after the incident, Teke was confronted by The Post outside her home in Paterson. She ignored the reporter and photographer, instructing a neighbor to say she had “moved out” of the family apartment.

The lack of action has infuriated the Jewish community and supporters of Hummus Kitchen. According to the information provided in The Post report, Sharon Hoota, the restaurant’s Israeli owner, expressed her frustration, saying, “I want justice. I care that someone attacked my employee and police know who it is and nobody did nothing about it.”

The suspect, described as a well-coiffed, sharply-dressed blonde, had dressed up for the cameras on the day of the attack, adding to the outrage over her behavior, The Post report noted. The incident has been widely condemned, and there are calls for swift action to ensure accountability.

This case highlights the challenges of jurisdictional issues in criminal investigations. While the incident occurred in New York, the suspect resides in New Jersey, complicating the arrest process. The report added that the delay in issuing an arrest warrant has raised questions about the effectiveness and responsiveness of the justice system in handling hate crimes.

Hummus Kitchen was targeted again on December 17, in a separate but similarly disturbing incident. This time, a young woman, not identified as Teke, entered the restaurant and fueled an unprovoked argument. As was indicated in The Post report, video footage shows her attempting to cover up an Israel/US flag, pushing an employee, and storming out after giving the staff the middle finger. The woman removed her Instagram account after being identified by the X account Stop Anti-Semitism, but her identity could not be confirmed by The Post.

The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is currently investigating both incidents. However, despite the clear evidence and public identification of Teke, no arrests have been made. An NYPD spokesperson stated on Thursday, “There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing.”

“All my employees were scared after the first incident. They were scared to come to work. They are still scared,” said Hoota, according to The Post report. “Of course, I want the police to do something. The next time is going to be much more serious.”

The attacks did not stop with Hummus Kitchen. In April, Hoota’s other restaurant, ZiZi in Chelsea, was defaced with swastikas. Indicated in The Post report was that Hoota discovered the hate symbols — one red and one black — spray-painted on the outdoor dining shed of ZiZi on Eighth Avenue between 19th and 20th streets. The incident added to the growing sense of vulnerability among his staff and patrons.

Hoota, who opened his first Hummus Kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen in 2008 and the Upper East Side location in 2009, has built a reputation for providing a welcoming environment for all. The Post report said that the recent attacks have not only threatened his business but have also struck fear into the heart of the community he serves. The delay in bringing the perpetrators to justice has amplified frustrations and fears about the adequacy of responses to hate crimes.

 

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