Cops: Anti-Semitic vandal could be Jewish

Anti-Semites ‘celebrate’ Kristallnacht in Midwood
Photo by Paul Martinka

Vandals slapped swastikas and the words “Die Jews,” on four Midwood properties in a new wave of anti-Semitic attacks over the weekend — but, in a bizarre twist, cops say the perpetrator may be Jewish!

Police arrested David Haddad of Manhattan on Monday on tips from neighbors and family that he had made threatening, anti-Semitic phone calls, and scribbled racist symbols on doors in both Brooklyn and Manhattan between Dec. 11 and Jan. 12. Cops say he’s a suspect in last weekend’s Midwood hate spree, but has yet to arrest him for the crime.

Multiple properties in the sleepy neighborhood were disfigured by the repulsive messages, sending mixed waves through a community all to familiar with bias attacks: according to the FBI’s latest hate crime statistics, of the 922 bias attacks committed across the country in 2011, 887 — or more than two thirds — were directed at Jews

“It’s just the latest in a series of ongoing anti-Semitic occurrences in Brooklyn,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park). “People are justifiably very concerned and upset.”

Longtime residents were more surprised than shocked.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Ann Kaslow, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades. “I don’t remember anything quite like this happening before.”

The predominantly Jewish enclave has been targeted by racists for years, but in recent months the motives for some of the crimes have been murky.

In November, a hatemonger painted swastikas on an Ocean Parkway bench before setting a row of cars on fire, although police now believe that the alleged bias crime was part of an elaborate insurance scam. Vandals also left an anti-Semitic message on a car in adjacent Marine Park, and scrawled over the Avenue J train station sign so it read, “Avenue Jew.”

Some community leaders urged caution before jumping to conclusions.

“Everyone in the neighborhood certainly condemns any type of act of hate,” said Chaim Deutsch, founder of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol. “But you have people with mental issues all over the place, and everyone knows a swastika gets you attention.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.