Jews offering holiday greetings attacked

10 subway riders arrested
December 12, 2007 4:06:54 PM PST
Ten subway riders, including two with prior bias crime busts, were charged with assaulting a group of four Jews wishing each other "Happy Hannukah" aboard a Q train in Brooklyn last week. Authorities say the victims, two men and two women, were on a southbound Q train at Canal Street in Lower Manhattan when they were approached by the gang of 10 at around 11:15 p.m. Friday.

They were allegedly beaten up by the group in an attack now being investigated as a bias crime, because one is accused of shouting, "Hanukkah is when the Jews killed Jesus."

Two of the victims, Maria Parsheva and Walter Adler spoke to Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett.

"At first, I got hit, but I wasn't bleeding," Adler said. "It was one of those sucker punch, shock punches. But by the second time, there were like people stomping me."

But it was what the attackers said that will stay with Adler longer than the bruises.

"'You killed him, you killed Jesus, you killed him on Hanukkah, you dirty Jew, you [expletive] Jew,' Adler said the attackers said.

Adler said the incident was sparked by him wishing his friends a Happy Hannukah to his friends.

"And almost immediately, you see the look in this guy's face, like I've called his mother something," Adler said. "And I see the way this guy looks, and I see the way that this guy wants to fight me, and I look, and I see another guy right in front of me, another guy. And I see the crowd moving in."

"Attacking someone because they yell 'Happy Hanukkah' is obviously reason to believe this is an anti-Semitic," Parsheva said.

When Hassan Askari, another passenger on the train, tried to help, he was beaten up too.

"I don't understand," Askari said. "They just said 'Happy Hannukah.' That was it. There was nothing else."

Although hate crimes charges have not yet been brought, it is being investigated as a bias incident.

Police say the victims were treated for bruising and swelling to the head and face, but none required hospital treatment.

The 10 suspects, ages 19 and 20, were arrested at the DeKalb Avenue station in Brooklyn. They were charged with assault and unlawful assembly.

"No one else helped up, except Hassan," Parsheva said. "No one else on the train."

"A Muslim-American saved us, when our own people were on the train and didn't do anything," Adler said. "Someone who in the media often gets painted as the enemy of Israel and the Jews, this is a...Sunni Muslim, this is someone that jumped in, he knew we were Jews, to help us."

During the investigation, one of four victims revealed the comment made by one of the attackers, prompting the hate crimes task force investigation.

Two of the 10 suspects charged have prior hate crimes arrests.

Authorities say 19-year-old Joseph Jirovec was one of six charged in a June 2006 attack on four black youths in Brooklyn's mostly white Gerritsen Beach neighborhood.

Jirovec, the son of a firefighter serving in Iraq as an Army staff sergeant, claimed at the time that the motivation for the attack was his membership in a violent street gang, and not bias.

He said his street name was "Bloody Fitted" and that he held the rank of two-star general in the Bloods street gang.

Another of those arrested, 19-year-old Zachary Rogalski of Brooklyn, was charged in a May 2005 attack on several black youths in Marine Park, Brooklyn.

He was part of a group of nine white youths who beat up a group of three blacks looking for a $70 cigarette lighter they lost during a previous fight, according to police.


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