(December 29, 2021 / JNS) The Anti-Defamation League is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man who the New York City Police Department says punched a Jewish man in the face multiple times on Sunday morning.
Blake Zavadsky, 21, was wearing a sweatshirt with the Israel Defense Forces emblem on it at the time of the attack.
“We are outraged by this brazen attack and urge anyone with information to come forward. We hope this reward helps send a clear and unequivocal message that crimes like these are unacceptable and have consequences,” the New York/New Jersey ADL said in a release.
On Sunday morning, Zavadsky and Ilan Kaganovich, also 21, were at a Foot Locker store in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn when they were approached by two assailants, they told the New York Post.
“They asked us what we were doing in their neighborhood. They called us ‘dirty Jews,’ ” Zavadsky recalled.
Zavadsky, who was wearing the IDF sweatshirt, said, “The one who punched me said if I don’t take my sweatshirt off, he’s going to rock me.” The same man also allegedly told them, “How can you support these dirty Jews?”
Zavadsky was allegedly punched in the face twice by one of the men, who also spilled iced coffee on him when he didn’t take off the sweatshirt. The attackers threatened to harm Kaganovich if he intervened and bystanders did not try to help the victims, according to the Jewish men.
“I can’t believe this happened,” said Kaganovich. “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.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday called the attack “abhorrent and unacceptable,” adding that “anti-Semitism and all hate has no home in New York,” while the city’s mayor Bill De Blasio tweeted “anti-Semitism anywhere is an attack on our city.”
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the crime, and has released photos and video footage of Zavadsky’s attacker.
Zavadsky told the New York Post he will continue wearing his IDF hoodie in public because “you can’t be scared to walk outside and say you’re Jewish. You have to be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe — and not be intimidated.”
In the wake of the anti-Semitic attack, people are being encouraged to show their support by posting photos of themselves online in their IDF shirts as part of the “#IDFshirtchallenge” social media campaign.
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