A 51-year-old Jewish man was assaulted in Williamsburg and taken to Bellevue Hospital Friday night, but a police source said the attack was not a hate crime.
Nochem Elek, a social worker, was punched after three men, described as Hispanic, approached and asked if he had any food, and the man said no, the police source told The Jewish Week. Williamsburg leaders were to hold a press conference Sunday to call for more police coverage in the area. "It was not bias," the source said.
But Isaac Abraham, a Satmar community activist, said he was surprised by that assertion. "How they could come to that conclusion so quickly is beyond me," he said. A $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the crime has been offered by a local community organization
Initial reports on Orthodox web sites and confirmed by the police said the man was attacked by three men at Ross and Lee avenues and suffered injuries to his eye and nose. The incident follows the painting of swastikas and torching of cars in Midwood Thursday night or early Friday and swastikas painted at two libraries, a church and a shul in Queens early last week. A man has been arrested and charged with the Queens incidents.
The Willliamsburg attacks come almost a year from a string of brutal attacks against chasidic men in the neighborhood that began on Thanksgiving. Two teenage brothers were charged with hate crimes for those attacks, which police said were carried out "just for fun."