Five people were stabbed at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York on Saturday, the latest in a string of violent incidents against the Hasidic Jewish community in recent weeks, USA Today reports. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called this crime an act of “domestic terrorism.”
Authorities say that at about 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night, a suspect barged into the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who ministers at Congregation Netzach Yisroel next door, armed with a large knife or possibly a machete. The suspect then proceeded to indiscriminately stab whomever was within range, injuring five people, at least one of them critically. One of the injured was Rottenberg’s son, though he was not critically hurt.
The suspect then fled in a car. Fortunately, a witness was able to make note of the license plate number, which helped police identify and stop the vehicle as it entered New York City, about 30 miles away.
Police arrested Grafton E. Thomas, 37, and charged him with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. Thomas allegedly had blood all over his clothes and smelled of bleach, according to Haaretz. His bail has been set at $5 million.
As of this writing, police are not discussing a possible motive for this crime.
EMS service #Hatzolah appears to be treating patients on the scene of a possible mass stabbing in Monsey, NY. Source for the video cannot be confirmed at this time. Check @haaretzcom for updates soon. pic.twitter.com/ScAfcR40U1
— Danielle Ziri (@DanielleZiri) December 29, 2019
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a press conference outside the scene of the crime on Sunday morning, said that this is the 13th act of antisemitism in and around New York City in the past few weeks.
“This is intolerance meets ignorance meets illegality. This is an intolerant time in this country. We see anger and we see hatred exploding. It is an American cancer in the body politic,” Cuomo said, calling this particular incident an “act of domestic terrorism.”
It’s also the eighth violent attack on Jews in and around New York City in recent weeks.
In New Jersey, for example, an attack at a kosher supermarket left three dead, and concluded in an hours-long standoff with police that involved a shootout with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. As USA Today reports, the suspects in that crime are believed to belong to a hate group with antisemitic and anti-law enforcement beliefs.
Similarly, in Monsey, a 30-year-old rabbi was stabbed on his way to work in November.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called for aggressive investigation and prosecution of these hate crimes.
“Whether worshiping in a synagogue, or shopping at kosher supermarket, or celebrating Hanukkah in the home of your rabbi, Jews should be safe from violence,” he said.