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Israeli flag Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Arab Israeli owner of a restaurant in Ohio which was attacked by a machete-wielding assailant is unfazed by the attack and will not remove the Israeli flag from his door, he told The Tower in an interview.

The Nazareth restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, was attacked last Thursday by a man who reportedly asked people in the restaurant where the owner was from. The attacker, identified by police as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry, attacked several people before being killed by police.

The owner of the restaurant, Arab Christian Hany Baransi, told The Tower he believes the attack on his restaurant was no coincidence, as he has always been outspoken about his Israeli identity.

Barry, said Baransi, “came in and asked where I was from.” While Baransi was at home nursing a headache at the time, one of his employees told Barry that the owner is from Israel. The man left after he determined that Baransi wasn’t at the restaurant, only to return around 30 minutes later with a machete and start hacking people.

"He yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ and then he attacked [the cops] with the machete and that’s when they shot him and killed him,” Baransi told The Tower.

No cops were wounded during the attack, and the four victims who were injured inside the restaurant are expected to recover. Barry was the only one killed in the incident.

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said shortly after the assault that she believed Nazareth’s diners “were just randomly attacked, spontaneously, without warning,” but Baransi told the website he was not so certain.

“Is it a random attack? Yes, but it wasn’t a random attack like you’re walking in the street and there are 10 shops and you pick one,” he told The Tower. “It was a random attack [insofar] that I was one of the Israelis [picked] between all of the Israelis that are around here. It was a terrorist attack.”

“I am a very outspoken Israeli, and I have an Israeli flag in my restaurant,” added Baransi, who moved to the United States from Haifa in 1983. “When people [from the Arab community] ask me where I am from, I tell them I am Israeli, I am an Israeli Christian Arab, it’s not like I am Palestinian, and then they start arguing and fighting with me.”

Baransi noted that the FBI, which has since joined the investigation and is probing whether the assault was an instance of homegrown extremism, has yet to share any conclusions. He added that he is currently focusing on helping his staff cope with the traumatic experience they underwent.

“You know, we are Israelis, used to this in our lives, people attacking us and wanting to kill us. But Americans — I have young ladies, 19, 20-years-old, they probably never heard people yelling and screaming. It was a huge experience for them,” he told the website. “And some of them are very devastated. All of us communicate on a daily basis, and some of us, a couple of people, are still having a really hard time.”

When asked by The Tower whether he would consider removing the Israeli flag from his restaurant’s entryway, Baransi swiftly rejected the idea.

“Actually I have another flag, and I am going to get a bigger flag, and I am going to get a Star of David necklace and put it on my chest, and I am going to get a tattoo,” he declared. “Honest to God, I am not kidding. They don’t scare me. We are Israelis. We are Israelis. We are resilient, we fight back.”

The Christian Baransi noted he sometimes feels out of place among both Muslims and Jews, but stressed that he nevertheless loves Israel.

“I am very happy in my life. I feel okay. I love my country Israel, and I will defend it until the day I die,” he told The Tower.