NYPD: Arson at Jewish homes not a hate crime

Police say fires at homes of Bukharan Jews in Forest Hills not motivated by anti-Semitism, but opposition to construction on the property.

Cynthia Blank ,

New York police (illustration)
New York police (illustration)

The New York Police Department has ruled that a series of arsons targeting a Jewish neighborhood in Queens are not hate crimes, the New York Jewish Week reported. 

Police have identified a suspect believed responsible for at least six of the fires at under-construction homes owned by Bukharian Jews in Forest Hills as a resident of the neighborhood. 

However, the NYPD says the motivation behind the fires was not anti-Semitism, but the arsonist's opposition to new construction in the area.

The arsons have not injured anyone, though they caused damage to the homes and also sometimes spread to neighboring houses. 

Forest Hills and its surrounding areas are home to approximately 35,000 Bukharians - Jews who hail from Uzbekistan and Tajikstan. 

The controversy over Bukharian Jews tearing down existing homes and building new ones is a long one in Forest Hills, with some residents calling the houses too ostentatious for the neighborhood. 

Despite that history, many Bukharian Jews were noticeably upset by the NYPD's assessment that the arsons were not hate crimes. 

“If seven Jewish homes had been burned in France within a month, there would be much more of an uproar,” said resident Boris Yuabov.