News and Commentary

Manhattan DA Won’t Prosecute Woman Cursing And Assaulting Jewish Woman As Hate Crime, Report Says
A subway train pulls into a station under Rockefeller Center on March 6, 2018 in New York City.
Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

On Thursday, according to the Israeli victim’s attorneys, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced, to the astonishment and consternation of the victim and her defenders, that the woman who assaulted her on a New York subway while yelling anti-Semitic curses and allegedly screaming “Allahu akbar!” would not be prosecuted for a hate crime, as the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Lihi Aharon, who immigrated to the United States from Israel in 2013, said she encountered a woman identified as Zarinah Ali, 38, when she boarded a subway train on her way home to Brooklyn after an induction ceremony at her school, The Borough of Manhattan Community College, in early December, as Fox News reported.

Aharon recalled asking Ali to move her belongings as she was occupying three seats on a “full” train, but Ali refused, so Aharon sat down across from Ali. She continued, “I happened to sit next to a visibly Orthodox Jewish man,” Aharon told Fox News. “He had a beard and a yarmulke and he turned out also to be an Israeli. She was yelling at him, shouting at him, ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Allah will kill you,’ ‘nasty Jews,’ she was citing clauses from the Koran and ‘when you see a Jew you got to kill him’ and she used a lot of profanity. I was talking Hebrew so she knew I was Jewish.”

Aharon took out her cellphone to record Ali spouting anti-Semitic curses including, “You f—in nasty a– Jews” and “You stinking a— Jew.” Aharon said, “After a few minutes she stood up and smacked my phone, she came over and smacked my phone down, and I told my friend, ‘Record this,’ I’m telling her in Hebrew ,‘Record this’ and my friend started recording and then she smacked my friend’s phone out of her hands twice. Then she came to me, she ran to me and pointed on my face and then she was grabbing my face, like she was trying to pull my face off and she scratched me so hard and my face started bleeding.”

The NYPD charged Ali with assault, according to Fox News.

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, told the Beacon, “The DA’s refusal to prosecute this targeted attack as a hate crime is an egregious miscarriage of justice. The Jewish community is under siege and the DA’s office won’t even attempt to defend us. Allowing acts of hate and violence like what happened to Lihi to go unanswered seeds the ground for more horrible tragedies like we saw in Jersey City and Monsey. We must send a message that religious bigotry and violence targeted against any minority community is not acceptable.”

Aharon told the Beacon, “I was physically attacked and verbally assaulted for being a Jew. I was called a ‘nasty Jew.’ I was assaulted. And I am one of the lucky ones. So many people in my position, who have faced Jew hatred and anti-Semitic violence, have suffered far worse than I have. Other victims of this same hatred and ignorance have literally been murdered in this city in recent weeks. I am not willing to stand aside to make way for the next attack on members of my community. My assailant made it clear that she hated me because of my faith. I will not stop fighting for justice for myself and for the many people like me who have suffered at the receiving end of anti-Jewish violence.”

Ken Belkin of the Spodek Law Group, who is involved in the case, echoed, “The Manhattan DA’s office is refusing to view this clearly anti-Semitic attack for what it was, an obvious hate crime. Bafflingly, the DA is not even willing to present the case to a grand jury to determine whether it meets the criteria. Lihi was attacked after speaking Hebrew, conversing with a visibly Jewish man, and enduring anti-Semitic epithets hurled in her direction by the assailant. And it was all captured on video. If this isn’t clear evidence of a hate crime, I don’t know what is. This is a slap in the face to every Jewish New Yorker.”