David Haddadd, 56, was charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime for three incidents, two of which occurred in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn where two elderly women, ages 78 and 80, both received threatening phone calls including anti-Semitic threats, according to police. Haddadd placed the calls from his Manhattan apartment.
But the phone calls were not the only recent anti-Semitic incidents in the borough.
Swastika graffiti with the words “die Jews” was found on garage doors at the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue L, prompting Councilman David Greenfield to coin the recent occurences as "an epidemic of swastikas in New York City."
"In the last few weeks, we have seen swastikas painted across New York - from Midwood, Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan and beyond," he said in a statement. "We will not accept these open displays of hatred, and those responsible must be brought to justice.”
Councilman Steve Levin, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Rabbi David Niederman, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz all called for an end to similar vandalism in Williamsburg.
Last week, a swastika was found painted in Kent Village Housing. The incident caused the elected officials to hold a press conference calling for an end to the actions.
Officials say that the crimes, which typically take on the form of swastika graffiti, target the largely Hasidic population and erode the sense of community that has long existed in the neighborhoods.
“One act of hate is too many, but I really cannot believe the amount of anti-Semitic graffiti that has been on display in Williamsburg over the past few months,” Levin said. “I find it incredibly troubling that there are people out there, whether kids or adults, who think it is acceptable to tag swastikas and other symbols of anti-Jewish sentiment around Williamsburg.”
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is looking into both cases.
The incidents are a reminder of the Midwood car fires, in which swastikas were scrawled on park benches and cars set on fire in the heavily Orthodox neighborhood last November.
“We must have a zero-tolerance policy towards hate, not just here within the Hasidic communities but everywhere, and especially with our children,” said Assemblyman Lentol.
Residents of Kent Village Housing, some of whom are Holocaust survivors, were terrified to once again see swastikas in the neighborhood, said Rabbi Niederman.
“Our community stands together to say that we are united against hate and intolerance in any form," he said. "Religious and racial discrimination have no place in our community.”
Markowtiz called it upsetting that the incidents of hatred and intolerance are still being seen.
“Brooklyn’s diversity is our strength, and ultimately there is more that unites us than divides us," he said. "That’s why we must remain vigilant in condemning hatred and discrimination against anyone - not only in Williamsburg and Brooklyn, but around the world.”
No arrests have been made yet pertaining to the incidences in Williasmburg. Haddad is being questioned in connection to the acts of vandalism in Midwood last weekend. Police say Haddad was related to two of his victims, with whom he had business disputes.