A local Jewish leader from New York was violently attacked outside the Barclay’s Center and had his nose broken by a “Free Palestine” supporter following a pre-season game between the Brooklyn Nets and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Leonard Petlakh, who is the director of the Kings Bay Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA), had attended the game with his two young sons. The game was followed by a dinner sponsored by Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) in honor of the IDF.
After the game, an angry group of “Free Palestine” supporters accosted Petlakh and shouted, “Your people are murderers.” Then, one of them punched him hard in the face breaking his nose. He also suffered from a deep cut underneath his eye which required eight stitches.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) are treating the unprovoked attack as an anti-Semitic hate-crime and are currently scouring CCTV footage in order to find the assailant who fled the scene quickly after assaulting Petlakh.
The victim of the crime spoke to The Jewish Daily Forward saying, “It’s ridiculous. It’s not about the Middle East, it’s about sports,” adding that he hoped that the “vile anti-Semitic hooligans masquerading as anti-Zionists will be caught soon.”
There were reportedly around 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who turned out to protest the game and the FIDF fundraiser, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.
There were a number of other groups in attendance at the protest, including the New York chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah New York and Direct Action Front For Palestine. Obscenities and anti-Semitic statements were made both inside and outside the arena, and the game itself was disrupted by Palestinian flags on the court.
The local police department will hopefully be able to find Petlakh’s attacker via the CCTV footage and prosecute him for his actions.