Confronting Antisemitism in Staten Island
Confronting Antisemitism in Staten Islandcourtesy

Staten Island Borough Hall, was the meeting place of a press conference organized by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island (COJO), which was hosted by Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.

As a backdrop to this press conference, since Hamas massacred and maimed hundreds of innocent civilians and took hostages in Israel in their attack on October 7, 2023, which promoted Israel to engage in a defensive war for her survival, there has been a surge in antisemitic incidents across the United States and right here at home in New York City.

Antisemitic incidents skyrocketed in the three months following the attack. Preliminary data shows that from Oct. 7, 2023, to Jan. 7, 2024, 3,291 incidents of antisemitism were recorded by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the United States, a 361% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

The three-month tally is greater than the total number of incidents recorded in any year of the last decade, with 2022 being the only exception with a total of 3,697 antisemitic incidents, as noted by the ADL.

This translates to an average of 34 antisemitic incidents a day since Oct. 7, 2023.

“The American Jewish community is facing a threat level that’s now unprecedented in modern history,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt reported. “It’s shocking that we’ve recorded more antisemitic acts in three months than we usually would in an entire year.”

According to the ADL, these incidents include assault, vandalism, verbal or written harassment, and rallies expressing antisemitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terrorism against Israel and/or anti-Zionism.

Of these incidents, at least 500 occurred on college campuses, 256 were reported in K-12 schools, and at least 634 incidents were reported against Jewish institutions.


In narrowing the scope to the urban hub of New York City, the trend remains prevalent.

Data recorded by the NYPD reveals that in 2023, there were a total of 669 hate crimes resulting in 360 arrests. In filtering the data to analyze hate crimes against the Jewish community, we can see that such incidents made up nearly half of all hate crimes in the five boroughs.

In 2023, there were 325 confirmed incidents of hate crimes against the Jewish people which resulted in 99 arrests, according to the NYPD. The data shows that 158 confirmed incidents took place from Oct. 9 - Dec. 30, 2023.

The hate was not limited to the other boroughs.

Staten Island bore 12 confirmed hate-crime incidents against the Jewish community in 2023; half took place in the confines of the NYPD’s 121st Precinct. Half of the Staten Island incidents also occurred in the same timeframe of Oct. 9 through Dec. 30, 2023.


While confirmed incidents of antisemitic hate crimes for Staten Island amount to only a dozen in comparison to the citywide total of 325, this year alone has already held its share of reported hate crimes.

The latest of these incidents took place on February 12, 2024, when a man made anti-Jewish and antisemitic comments to a 25-year-old victim and struck him in the head with a metal bat in Mariners Harbor. The man has since been arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, aggravated harassment and menacing, according to the NYPD. Bail was also set at $50,000 and a $100,000 bond.

Additionally, while the incident did not take place on the Island itself, a migrant who claims to live in a Staten Island shelter faces hate crime charges after assaulting a Long Island homeowner and attempting to make off with a pair of Israeli flags.

Back in January of this calendar year, an unknown man still at large ripped down and Israeli flag outside of Young Israel of Staten Island, the borough’s largest synagogue.


In response to this “disturbing increase in antisemitic incidents within the Staten Island Jewish community and across the nation” the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations held on February 16, 2024, a press conference at Staten Island Borough Hall.

Leaders from the Jewish community, politicians and members of many faiths joined together at Borough Hall in St. George to condemn antisemitism on Staten Island, the rest of New York City and the nation. The event at Borough Hall was attended by religious leaders of many faiths.

“There is no room for hate in our world, there is no room for hate in this borough,” said Scott Maurer, CEO/executive vice president of COJO and co-chair of the Staten Island Hate Crimes Task Force. Mendy Mirocznik, president of COJO, praised the NYPD for its swift investigation that he said led to the arrest within 48 hours of Obadiah Lashley, 29, the assailant in connection with the bat attack that occurred on February 12, at about 2:30 p.m. on Grandview Avenue. Mirocznik praised Chief Joseph Gulotta, Staten Island Borough Commander, “for leading by example and for personally joining the street search for the suspect.” Mirocznik further praised Inspector Gary Marcus and Lt. Robert Delaney, Hate Crimes Task Force, “for working closely with Chief Gulotta and thanks to this partnership the NYPD was able to arrest the suspect within 48 hours. The NYPD in Staten Island works well because of the great harmony they have and their dedication to service is the key to their success. These officers truly are a credit to the department.

Orit Lender, CEO of the Joan & Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center in Sea View, noted that although Jews make up only about 2% of the U.S. population, they were the targets of about half of the religiously motivated hate-crimes in 2022. “If before Oct. 7 antisemitism was a slow-burning fire, it’s now a five-alarm blaze that requires all of us to douse its flames,” said Marisa Bearak, assistant director of the American Jewish Committee New York. “Antisemitic incidents are at an all-time high in the United States and Jewish-Americans are scared.” Her organization issued its annual report in February about the state of antisemitism in America that found that almost half of American Jews “changed their behavior due to fear of antisemitism in 2023. A staggering 63% of American Jews feel less secure living in the United States than a year ago.” Bearak said that one in four American Jews “has been the target of antisemitism in the last year with younger American Jews being particularly vulnerable.”

District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, founder of the Staten Island Hate Crimes Task Force, was unable to attend the news conference but issued a statement which was read by Andrew Craford of his office that stated that the bat attack “speaks to the terrible truth that hate and ignorance still persist in the hearts and minds of too many Staten Islanders.” Anyone indicted on a hate crime charge must plead guilty to that charge or prosecutors will take the case to trial. The D.A.’s office has an “airtight partnership with the NYPD and their Hate Crime Task Force to quickly identify and apprehend the perpetrators of these terrible crimes.”

“When antisemitism stands up, we must smack it down,” said Borough Pres ident Vito Fossella in a video broadcast at the news conference. “On Staten Island time and again we have joined together when antisemitism rears its ugly and evil head.” “Whether it be on Oct. 7 in Israel or a street corner in Mariners Harbor, we will speak out and condemn those who attack innocent people only because they are Jewish.” “Hate only wins if we let it,” Lender said. “Stand up with us in building a world where diversity isn’t just accepted, it’s celebrated and where hate is unwaveringly rejected because the answer to hate is love.”

Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, used the word “despicable” to describe the hate crime in Mariners Harbor. America is supposed to be a country “where you can live in peace, where you don’t have to worry about being targeted because of your religion, because of what you look like, because of your sexual orientation. That’s what makes us so great.”

“It’s fair to say that my district includes the heart of the Jewish community in Willowbrook,” said Councilman David Carr. “I’m here today to show my solidarity with the Jewish community on Staten Island and with all communities that could be victims of hate. Hate has no place in civil society. Antisemitism is the most pernicious form of hate in human history.” Maurer and other leaders encouraged people to speak out against the murders, rapes and other alleged atrocities commit ted against Jews, innocent civilians, on Oct. 7, and advocate for the release of the hostages. “This is insanity what has happened,” Maurer said of the Oct. 7 attack. “We were stricken with acts that even the Holocaust survivors have said they’ve never seen anything like this before. We need as a community to stand up against these acts.” He noted that in addition to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, another 5 million people were killed based on factors such as their skin color, sexual orientation or other religion. “We are the barometer of what happens with hate in this world,” Maurer said about the Jewish community. “I cannot stress this enough: Your silence is deadly; your silence is deafening. Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Executive Director, The Center for a shared Society, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, (JCRC-NY) remarked, “this most recent anti - Semitic attack needs to be condemned by all leaders of community and faith. We, all of those who share this amazing city and nation, must do all in our power to ensure hate , in any form , is simply unacceptable.” Michael D. Cohen, Eastern Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center, remarked that, “Anti- Semitic hate crimes—many of them violent continue to be the scourge of our city. While we express our gratitude to NYPD for catching the suspect and the District Attorney's office for committing to prosecute this case to the full extent of the law, we urge New York’s leaders—not only political but faith leaders to continue to protest when Jewish neighbors are attacked and demeaned on the streets of our city. Only by showing solidarity with each other and ensuring that perpetrators will be held fully culpable for their crimes can we hope to see a change in this horrific trend. “

Mirocznik, concluded the press conference by saying, “the only true solution to ending antisemitism is when we as a society have the same reaction of disgust to antisemitism as we have to any other form of hate. As long as we do not have the same reaction to antisemitism as we have to other forms of hate we send a message that being antisemitic is normal and there is nothing wrong with it. We also must do better at holding our colleges and universities accountable for permitting institutional antisemitism to be acceptable. Sadly, it is a sad state of affairs, when Ivy league university presidents have difficulties when asked by members of the United States Congress in condemning campus antisemitism. It truly is shocking what they permit in the name of free speech and that is having a chilling negative effect on Jewish students on campus. Never in a million years would I have imagined this possible in the country that I love the Unites States. Our intelligentsias, our future elected representatives, lawyers, judges, teachers, etc., are educated by these institutions of higher learning and if they tolerate and sanction campus antisemitism as normal and proper what message will it send to the public at large. Today we gathered to condemn antisemitism and hate and to thank the District Attorney and the NYPD for their great police work. However, more concrete steps must be taken to tackle the evils of antisemitism in a meaningful way. This is the clarion call to action of today’s press conference.

Also attending and participating in the press conference were, Rabbi Yisrael Kahan, ADL; Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, President, Project Hospitality; Gil Cygler, AJC; Lt. Terence M. Byrne (Retired), JCRC-NY; Rabbi Pinchas Pearl, Congregation Bnai Israel, Staten Island; Rabbi Aharon Zeev, Aur Torah Sephardic Minyan, Staten Island; Mrs. Ruth Garber, Principal, Jewish Foundation School; Mpaka Ptincewill, Chairman, U.S.-African Chamber of Commerce; Officer Zhana Krot, NYPD, Police Commissioner Liaison Unit; Thomas Scarangello, representing Governor Kathy Hochul; Rabbi Moshe Davis, and Edward Jackson, representing Mayor Eric Adams; Thomas Fahams, representing Congress Member Nichole Malliotakis; William Matarazzo, representing, Senator Andrew Lanza; Kelly Henry, representing Senator Jesssica Scarella-Spanton; Thomas Pagliuca, representing Council Member Kamillah Hanks; and Alex Korkhov and Alemayehu Ayele, New York City Human Rights Commission.