Archive for the tag 'antisemitism'

swastika

Photo by Jane Roitman

A Queens assemblyman has asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to look into regulating swastikas and other offensive ads from taking to the skies after beachgoers were shocked this weekend by the appearance of a swastika-towing plane flying over the sands.

The banner, shown above, was flown on Saturday by the International Raelian Movement, a quasi-religious organization that says they’ve cloned humans and they believe extraterrestrial scientists made life on Earth. The group flies the banner over New York City beaches annually to “rehabilitate” the image as a sign of peace and unity. Although it wasn’t intended to be anti-Semitic, locals were outraged that the passion-stirring icon would fly over one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

In addition to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the banner toured over the Rockaway and Long Island beaches.

CBS reports on the effort to make sure the Raelians won’t be back next year:

Assemblyman Phil Goldfelder, D-Queens, told [reporter Alex] Silverman he is asking the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs to look at regulating swastikas in the sky and other offensive ads, which he thinks can be done without opening a constitutional can of worms. He’s also considering introducing legislation.

“There’s been a lot of precedent about regulation on signage in public places, and I think that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our families,” Goldfelder said.

swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

Captain Chell. Photo by Erica Sherman

Captain John Chell. Photo by Erica Sherman

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be Wednesday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

Members and attendees will discuss the anti-Semitic graffiti that was discovered earlier this month on several properties on Exeter Street.

Guest speakers — Captain John Chell of the 61st Police Precinct and Alexander Gurevich, Esq., Office of the Brooklyn District Attorney — will talk about how the NYPD handles these crimes and what punishment is meted out to criminals involved.

There will additionally be updates on Traffic Committee proposals, Build it Back and NY Rising monies allocated to Manhattan Beach.

The meeting is taking place at the same time as a seminar by the Department of Finance about insurance issues (flier to come on this site shortly). For those concerned about missing one meeting or the other, MBCG said they have booked the DOF to attend their June meeting to go over many of the same issues.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

vandals

The New York Police Department has released footage from a neighbor’s surveillance camera that appears to show four teenagers believed to be responsible for spraying anti-Semitic graffiti in Manhattan Beach this weekend.

Graffiti depicting a swastika-like icon and messages including “F-ck Jews” were found scrawled on homes, a tree stump and construction site on Saturday morning. The NYPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime, and has released the surveillance video as they seek help from the public in identifying the vandals.

The video appears to show four teens in hoodies walking down Exeter Street. They make two brief stops within the camera’s range, lighting up their marks with a cellphone or flashlight as they quickly scribble their hate-filled messages and move on.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Here’s the video, via ABC News:

graffiti-mb

Anti-Semitic messages and swastikas were found painted on several properties on Exeter Street in Manhattan Beach over the weekend, and police believe the perps were five white teenage males.

The graffiti was discovered on homes, a tree stump and a construction site early Sunday morning, according to a message sent by the Manhattan Beach Community Group.

JPUpdates reports that surveillance video captured the five suspects spray painting the Exeter Street home of Victor Popovsky:

“We are not going to tolerate this nonsense. Not in this neighborhood and not anywhere else,” said Popovsky, a physics teacher at PS321 in Park Slope.

The teenagers sprayed swastika on a tree and lamp post, as well as hate graffiti at a constructs site.

Council member Chaim Deutsch was seen on the scene Sunday afternoon trying to remove the graffiti with no success. “Words of hate and graffiti of hate will not be tolerated, in this community or in any other neighborhood,” Mr. Deutsch told JP. “As a son of holocaust survivors I take these incidents very personal.”

“We need to educate our youth of what such hate graffiti means,” Mr. Deutsch added.

Deutsch told the outlet that the NYPD is investigating it as a hate crime.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz has called for those responsible to be punished for their actions:

“The appearance of hate graffiti in two predominantly Jewish neighborhoods this weekend — here in my district in Manhattan Beach and also in Borough Park — reminds us that we can never educate people enough about anti-Semitism and the dangers of intolerance.

“Whether the graffiti was motivated by hatred, anger, boredom or ignorance the result is exactly the same: it makes residents feel uncomfortable and frightened to be in the place they call home. This is unacceptable under any circumstances, and particularly in neighborhoods where many Holocaust survivors sought refuge.

“The person responsible for this crime must be punished to the fullest extent that the law allows, and all of us must continue to speak out swiftly and decisively against any act of hatred that takes place in our community.”

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Ben White (Source: BenWhite.org.uk)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) has asked the interim chancellor of CUNY to take “strong and immediate action” following Brooklyn College’s official “support” of its second anti-Israel lecture this year.

In a letter to William P. Kelly, who was appointed interim chancellor in July, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz expressed his outrage over Brooklyn College’s decision “to once again support a lecture that freely gives a podium to a divisive point of view without making any attempt to provide a balanced dialogue.”

The Nov. 14th event features British journalist Ben White, author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.” White has likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust, and in 2008 he came to the defense of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when the leader said “Israel must be wiped off the map.” White was invited to speak by Students for Justice in Palestine, the same group that hosted anti-Israel academic Omar Barghouti in February.

“Publicly funded institutions do not have the right to spew hatred without permitting an equal response. Universities that accept government funding do not have the right to make a large segment of their own community feel uncomfortable or unwelcome on a campus where they are supposed to feel secure,” he said.

The lawmaker said that Brooklyn College’s sponsorship of the lecture is the antithesis of a college’s mission to encourage intellectual growth and free range of thought. “It is disgraceful and arrogant, and as a member of the Legislature I am appalled that I have been forced to take Brooklyn College to task for a breach of conduct not once, but twice, this year.”

He said that until recently, the idea that Brooklyn College would promote anti-Semitism was “beyond preposterous,” especially to its many Jewish students and faculty and the area’s many Holocaust survivors. “The president of Brooklyn College, Karen Gould, apparently doesn’t mind creating controversy and perhaps she even enjoys it. To those of us who help keep CUNY in business, however, this is unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

A footprint left at the site of the vandalism last week, believed to belong to the culprit.

Our report last week on the anti-Semitic graffiti at the Holocaust Memorial was met with swift responses from elected officials, and so far one measure has been taken to ensure the safety of the park, with possibly more to follow.

The Flatbush Shomrim safety patrol van has been parked outside the memorial, monitoring the site with live cameras since last Thursday, and unmarked patrol cars have been asked to keep an eye on the area. The Shomrim patrol van is needed for different incidents around the city and will not remain at the site, but permanent cameras in and around the memorial and in Manhattan Beach is a possibility.

According to Chaim Deutsch, Chief of Operations for Councilman Michael Nelson and founder of the Flatbush Shomrim, Nelson has asked the state for funding to install two cameras in Manhattan Beach, one by the Holocaust Memorial and another by the neighborhood’s other entrance.

“There are only two ways to get out of Manhattan Beach, and one of them is by the Memorial,” said Deutsch. “If a child goes missing, we would be able to look at the cameras and see if they exited the area. Some people are opposed to the cameras because they don’t want to be recorded, but the idea has been gaining support in the community.”

“After an incident the first thing you want to do is show visibility,” he added. “That is why we have the van there, to send a message that it is being monitored. For the future, we would like cameras installed to be a deterrent for future incidents.”

Deutsch said the initiative is still in the works. Aside from the two cameras monitoring Manhattan Beach’s entrances and exits – a plan devised shortly after the Leiby Kletzky incident by Deutsch, Nelson and the Manhattan Beach’s civic groups – local pols and candidates have suggested putting remotely monitored surveillance cameras within the park itself.

Cymbrowitz inspects the graffiti (Source: Cymbrowitz's office)

After Sheepshead Bites broke the story yesterday about the anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted on the centerpiece of Holocaust Memorial Park (West End Avenue between Shore Boulevard and Emmons Avenue), several elected officials and candidates for political offices sent in additional comments condemning the attacks. Here they are, published in the order they were received.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz inspected the site before detectives arrived. From a press release he issued later in the day:

The son of Holocaust survivors, Cymbrowitz called the offensive vandalism “an affront to the memory of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, as well as to all Holocaust survivors in my district.”

“This memorial is a symbol of peace and has provided comfort to not only the Holocaust survivors in my community, but to thousands from throughout the city. The callous vandalism of this memorial must not go unpunished. As I told the police officers at the scene, everything must be done to catch these perpetrators of hate,” Cymbrowitz said.

Cymbrowitz has previously called on New York City’s District Attorneys to seek the maximum penalty for defendants accused of hate crimes and ask judges to impose the maximum sentence allowed upon conviction.

Meanwhile, Ben Akselrod and Ari Kagan, who have been campaigning together for a seat in the Assembly and local District Leader, respectively, issued a joint statement.

“Ari and I are committed to stopping this trend of hatred that goes against everything this city believes in,” Akselrod said. “These kinds of disgusting, disgraceful acts have no place in Brooklyn and in our society.”  “We all must stand united to tackle this problem in a way that discourages such reprehensible, cowardly acts,” Kagan added.

Both Akselrod and Kagan demand installation of video cameras that can be monitored to protect the park from further vandalism.

Borough President Marty Markowitz weighed in as well:

Brooklyn is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, so it’s especially offensive that not only did this reprehensible anti-Semitic act occur in our borough, but at Holocaust Memorial Park, a peaceful place of reflection that memorializes the millions of lives lost due to this very kind of hatred. The Holocaust showed the depth to which humanity can sink, and incidents like these remind us that those who use hate, vandalism and violence to vilify others still walk among us and need to be separated from society. But Brooklyn’s diversity is our strength, and ultimately there is more that unites us than divides us. That’s why we must remain vigilant in condemning hatred and discrimination against anyone—there’s no place for it in Brooklyn or anywhere in the world. I have every confidence that the NYPD will do everything in its power to track down and apprehend the thugs responsible. And, in addition to their punishment, the perpetrators should be made to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan or the United States Holocaust MemorialMuseum in Washington, D.C. to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust and to understand the depth of their ignorance.

Finally, State Senator David Storobin sent a statement saying the following:

There is no room for hate in our community. This memorial is a sacred site. Its defamation is an insult to Holocaust survivors, Jewish New Yorkers, and all peace-loving people. It is my hope that in this dark moment, our community will unite against anti-Semitism and hatred. If these vile criminals are caught, I call on the authorities to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

UPDATE (1:58 p.m.): Congressman Bob Turner just piped in with this:

The recent vandalism of the shrine at the Holocaust Memorial Park goes against its very purpose, which is to remind us of the necessity for community tolerance. I encourage anyone who has any information that can lead to the apprehension of those responsible to contact the proper authorities. We must work together to show that acts of cowardice and ignorance like this will not be tolerated.

Source: Councilman Nelson's office

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Neighbors woke up this morning to find that the area’s beloved Holocaust Memorial Park, New York City’s only public Holocaust memorial, was the target of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism last night.

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A swastika found in Gerritsen Beach last week (Source: GerritsenBeach.net)

A militant Jewish organization announced over the weekend that it will send “security teams” to Marine Park, calling for Jewish residents witnessing anti-Semitic acts of vandalism to “smash the neo-Nazis to pieces physically.”

The Jewish Defense Organization is deploying their patrols in Marine Park, Borough Park and other areas that were recently targeted by anti-Semitic vandals. The neighborhood has been plagued by hate-related graffiti, most recently in late June when a swastika was painted on a sidewalk near a Marine Park synagogue. Last week, swastikas were found on a bulkhead in nearby Gerritsen Beach.

Keep reading for the JDO’s full statement, and the NYPD’s response.

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