NEW YORK (Nov. 26)
Mordechai Levy, head of the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO) which he describes as “more militant” than the Jewish Defense League (JDL), is organizing night patrols to “teach a lesson” to vandals that “Jews won’t be pushed around.”
Levy, 24, a journalism major at Hunter College, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that this was in response to the recent window-smashing of Jewish-owned shops in Boro Park and the Midwood section of Flatbush, Brooklyn neighborhoods heavily populated by Orthodox Jews. Hew said the patrols, on foot and in cars, would be armed with “legal but deadly” weapons. Asked what such weapons were, he mentioned “chains and baseball bats.”
But New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the districts, strongly opposes the JDO’s plans. He told the JTA today there was absolutely no need for its presence in the affected neighborhoods.
He accused the JDO of “taking advantage” of a situation of concern to the community and warned their tactics would only arouse fear, especially among elderly Jews, that conditions are worse than they are.
DISMISSES JDO’S CLAIM
Hikind confirmed that he spoke to Levy last week, trying to dissuade him, but without success. He dismissed as “baloney” Levy’s claim to the JTA that the very presence of his patrols would bring more police into the streets where Jewish property is threatened.
Hikind said the police are doing an “excellent” job. Nevertheless, there have been no arrests and apparently no clues so far to the persons responsible for heaving heavy rocks through the windows of 13 Jewish-owned shops in Boro Park during the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 9, and, again, last Saturday morning, November 23, smashing the windows of five shops in Boro Park and three on Avenue J, the main shopping center of Midwood.
Hikind has asked the FBI to help local police track down the vandals but the federal agency must determine there was a civil rights violation before it can enter the case.
New York City is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has offered a $5,000 reward.
AREAS PATROLS WILL COVER
Levy said the JDO opened “headquarters” in Boro Park with a “mass rally” last Saturday night and already has “over a hundred volunteers” for the patrols. He said they ranged from teen-agers and college students to older adults, including women. But the JDO accepts only males, he said “for protection reasons.”
He said the patrols would cover Boro Park, Flatbush and “anywhere else” that Jews or Jewish property are threatened. He suggested the police should be “glad of the help.”
Levy did not say his patrols would summon the police if they caught anyone in a destructive act. He stressed “teaching a lesson.” He claimed that 10 JDO members gave a lesson “in Jewish justice” to six teen-age vandals they found desecrating Washington Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery on the borderline between Boro Park and Midwood on October 31, the night of Halloween. Asked what constituted “Jewish justice,” he said “beating up and worse.”
Hikind, a Democrat who confirmed that he was once a member of the JDL, indicated he deplored the JDO’s actions in his district but suggested they might be “useful” in other areas. He said he told Levy they should go to East New York and Brownsville, severely depressed neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and to Manhattan’s Lower East Side where, he said, elderly Jews live in terror and are afraid to leave their apartments.
HEALTHY FOR JEWS TO LEARN SELF-DEFENSE
Hikind said he thought it was “healthy” for Jews to learn how to use weapons and other forms of self-defense and that he did not want to “impugn the intentions” of the JDO. But he insisted their tactics were not needed and would be counter-productive in his districts. He said there is virtually no problem of anti-Semitism in Boro Park, “probably because 85 percent of the residents are Jews,” 65 percent of them Orthodox.
Hikind said that while the wave of rock throwing at Jewish-owned shops–non-Jewish shops in the neighborhoods were spared–smells strongly of anti-Semitism, “we have no leads. We don’t know for sure if it was anti-Semitism.”
He stressed again that “no one asked the JDO to come” and noted that there is a community patrol in Boro Park made up of “professionals” who carry licensed weapons.