SOURCE: New York POST
By Doree Lewak, Tina Moore and Jorge Fitz-GibbonDecember 27, 2021 3:54pm Updated
Two Jewish men were attacked as “dirty Jews” in Brooklyn — before one of them was punched in the face for sporting an Israel Defense Forces sweatshirt, the pair told The Post Monday.
Blake Zavadsky and his friend Ilan Kaganovich, both 21, were at the Foot Locker in Bay Ridge shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday when they were allegedly accosted by two attackers.
“They asked us what we were doing in their neighborhood,” Zavadsky said. “They called us ‘dirty Jews.’”
He said they took particular issue with his hoodie that featured the emblem of the Israeli military forces.
“The one who punched me said if I don’t take my sweatshirt off, he’s going to rock me,” Zavadsky said.
“‘How can you support these dirty Jews?’” Zavadsky said the man allegedly snarled.
One of the men slugged Zavadsky twice in the face and doused him with iced coffee when he didn’t take off the hoodie, he said.
The NYPD said Monday the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
“I can’t believe this happened,” said Kaganovich, who said the pair threatened him if he intervened. “We should be able to wear whatever we want to wear.
“Blake and I are Jewish — we should support Israel without it being a problem. My family moved from the Soviet Union for this reason — to be able to live a better life.”
Both men are from Brooklyn and attend college in the Big Apple — Zavadsky is a student at the College of Staten Island and Kaganovich at Brooklyn College.
They said they were troubled that passersby didn’t intervene or try to help them.
The two men brought their story to City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who told The Post she was incensed by the unprovoked attack.
“These boys’ families escaped the [former Soviet Union] precisely because of incidents such as this one,” said Vernikov, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who now represents parts of southern Brooklyn. “Jews were beaten, jailed, and ostracized from society just for being Jewish.”
“We escaped to this country for freedom of religion, and here we go again, getting beaten up in broad daylight in the middle of Brooklyn, NY, in the United States of America,” she added.
Police have not yet identified the suspects, who fled after the attack.
Zavadsky, meanwhile, said he has no plans to stop wearing his IDF hoodie in public.
“You can’t be scared to walk outside and say you’re Jewish,” he said. “You have to be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe — and not be intimidated.”
“Now all we have to do is spread the word and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he added.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday tweeted that the state police Hate Crimes Task Force was assisting in the probe and was “ready to offer additional support.”
“This is abhorrent and unacceptable,” Hochul said. “Antisemitism & all hate has no home in New York.”
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