MANHATTAN (PIX11) — A 27-year-old Jewish man returned to the Manhattan street where he was beaten on Sunday; he says he believes he was attacked because he of his religion.
Matt Greenman was carrying an Israeli flag at the time of the April 20 attack. Greenman was still recovering from a sprained foot and was walking with crutches when the attack happened.
“His friends started to make a little circle and he got me from behind, got me on the ground, and punched me in the face,” said Greenman. “I got this black eye. He kicked me in the face a whole bunch.”
His right eye was still red and swollen on Sunday. Greenman said he was attacked by a group of men marching in a pro-Palestinian demonstration near 42nd Street and First Avenue in the Murray Hill area.
“I wanted to go and see what was about. I was wearing the Israeli flag on my back, kind of a cape,” Greenman said.
A dangerous trend
The number of cases involving people being attacked for their religion or race has skyrocketed across the five boroughs over the past year. The Jewish community is often at the center of such attacks. According to a new report just released by the anti-hate organization A.D.L., antisemitic attacks increased 325% last year.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a surge across New York City and New York state, and even across the country,” said Gerard Filitti, an attorney for Greenman who is working pro bono in the case. “Jews have been targeted increasingly over the last few years and the levels of antisemitism have been at the highest level now since 1979.”
The attack against Greeman now under investigation by NYPD Hate Crime Unit.
“Based on his identity both as a Jew and as a supporter of Israel. Currently, the investigators are in the process of getting evidence to make an arrest and have a successful prosecution,” said Filitti.
Greeman told PIX11 no one should be assaulted for supporting their country.
“I feel like now that it happened, I watch more, and I’m more aware of what’s around me,” Greenman said.
Attorney Gerard Filitti provides legal services with the Lawfare Project, a global network that helps members of the Jewish community who experience hate crimes. He says an important way to prevent hate crimes from happening is reporting.
“The biggest thing is coming forward. We are thankful and appreciative of Matt for reporting it, and more people need that courage. And the police are there for this,” he said.
Filitti also notes that certain events that could potentially become violent due to their nature should be closely monitored by elected officials and authorities.
“There needs to be a change in the narrative. We need to be more inclusive and accepting of the Jewish community, so we do not have this level of hate and antisemitism. It is notable that, for this event, the people who put it together were fueling hate, hateful rhetoric,” said the lawyer.
If you or someone you know has been victim of hate crimes, you can dial toll-free to the NYPD Hate Crime and Bias Incidents hotline at 888-440-HATE. At nyc.gov, you can also find other resources in several languages.