US Jews need more funds to protect themselves - American security leader

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls Monsey stabbing attack ‘act of domestic terrorism,’ as suspect arrested for attacking and wounding five people

A Jewish man walks near the Monsey antisemitic attack, New York, December 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/EDUARDO MUNOZ)
A Jewish man walks near the Monsey antisemitic attack, New York, December 2019.
American Jews do not have the funds to protect themselves, the head of the Secure Community Network said a day after five people were stabbed at a home-synagogue in Monsey, New York.
On Sunday, police announced that African-American Thomas Grafton, 37, was arrested for the attack. Local media reports said the perpetrator was caught while driving a gray Nissan Sentra at the intersection of West 144th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem. He was taken to the city’s 32nd precinct for questioning.
Grafton is being charged with five counts of attempted murder for entering Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg’s home-synagogue, known as Rabbi Rottenberg’s Shul, located in the Forshay neighborhood in Monsey on Saturday around 10:30 p.m. and pulling out a machete, which he used to stab people. 
As American Jews grappled with the ninth attack in New York in one week, Michael Masters said, “We are working very diligently with communities and individuals and with the government to increase funding for safety and security.
“We know last year the funding was at $60 million. We know that the Department of Homeland Security received from across the community – Jewish institutions and non-Jewish institutions – more than $150m. in requests,” added Masters, national director and CEO of the national homeland security initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America & the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He said the Department of Homeland Security recently committed to $90m. for 2020, “which is a significant increase... But we know that what is required is much more.”
Masters, however, noted that money is not the whole solution.
“It is about being prepared, and to combat antisemitism, the Jewish community would need to recognize the problem and do a better job of working together and working with the broader community to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish people.” He said simple security solutions, such as locking synagogue doors, could make a significant difference in reducing the severity of the next attack.
US President Donald Trump called on Americans to “come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of antisemitism,” in the aftermath of the attack. “Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the event “an act of domestic terrorism” on Sunday morning.
“This is an act of terrorism. I think there are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear,” he told reporters during a visit to the scene of the attack. “We are going to enforce the laws and make sure acts like this do not happen – and if they do happen, they are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Earlier in the day, Cuomo published an open letter informing the community that “I am directing the state police hate crimes task force to immediately investigate and to use every tool available to hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
“Let me be clear: antisemitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity, and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” he continued. “You do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished,” added the governor in a final comment directed at the perpetrator.
Witnesses said the attacker entered the house after congregants had just lit the Hanukkah candles.

“Someone came into the house, his face was covered with something,” Rabbi Yisrael Cohen told Israel’s Channel 12. “He came with a big knife and started doing what he did. It’s not something we are used to here.”
Another person who was at the home at the time of the attack told The New York Times, “I prayed for my life.” He described the weapon in the attack as “a broom-sized knife.”
According to a report on Channel 13, Rottenberg urged congregants to continue their Hanukkah celebrations once the event was over and the wounded evacuated and treated. The next morning, community members attended the adjacent synagogue for prayers where they said Hagomel, the Blessing of Thanksgiving for after a close call with danger.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS reportedly threw tables and chairs at the perpetrator and chased him out. He ran next door to the adjacent synagogue, but they managed to block his entry because the door was locked. Eventually he escaped in the silver Nissan in which he was caught by police hours later.
One congregant told Channel 13 that Grafton shouted, “I hate you” and “I’ll get you,” as he evacuated the premises.
Though police did not release many details, they did confirm that Grafton has a criminal record.
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea tweeted in praise of the officers who helped apprehend the suspect: “Outstanding work by officers Radziwon and Mattera.”

In addition to Cuomo, other New York officials responded immediately to the incident, leaving no doubt that they view it as an antisemitic attack.
“So many Jewish families in our city have close ties to Monsey,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We cannot overstate the fear people are feeling right now.
“I’ve spoken to long-time friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wrote on Twitter, “This is absolutely horrible. Much more needs to be done immediately to keep Jewish communities safe.”
Similarly, Rep. Ted Deutch condemned the incident.
“This horrific violence against the Jewish community must be confronted by everyone in America.”
New York State Attorney-General Letitia James tweeted, “There is zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation. I stand with the Jewish community tonight and every night.”
Also, Dov Hikind, a former New York State assemblyman and the founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, tweeted: “An attack on one Jew, is an attack on all Jews.”
He said three weeks ago he submitted a proposal to combat antisemitism with de Blasio. The plan includes several steps, including that the mayor “declare a crisis,” comparing the recent spike in antisemitic crimes to the measles outbreak in New York City that started in September 2018.
Hikind also recommended holding meetings between Black and Jewish leaders, increasing police presence and providing counseling, among other initiatives.
Ivanka Trump called the attack “vicious” and “an act of pure evil.

“We need authorities to provide increased protection NOW and ensure that the full force of the law is brought down on those who perpetrate such horrific crimes,” he tweeted.
Jason Greenblatt, reacted: “Horrible!!!” The former US special envoy to the Middle East called on people to “pray for the wounded of this & the other recent attacks upon Jews in NY this week.”
This is the second stabbing attack in Monsey in the last two months. In November, a man jumped out of his car and stabbed a father on his way to synagogue, gouging his eye.
On Friday, de Blasio announced that an increased police presence would be deployed in the Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn in response to the incidents.
NYPD’s Shea confirmed Sunday that “we will continue our increased patrols and the deployment of @NYPDCT officers at key locations to ensure that everyone is safe during the holiday season and into the New Year.”
But in interviews with local and international TV some residents said they were fed up with waiting.
“Stop the B.S.,” one resident said. “Tell us what you are going to do.”
In September, the New York State Department reported that more than half of the hate crimes reported in New York City in 2019 were antisemitic in nature. Most of the incidents reported were acts of vandalism, such as graffiti or swastikas on places like synagogues.
Overall, antisemitic hate crimes in NYC are up 63% in 2019 compared to last year, the State Department reported. As of September, there were 152 reports of antisemitic hate crimes, up from 93 reported in the same period the year prior.•