BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — A homeless couple entered a synagogue in Buenos Aires and later threatened the worshippers.
The attack took place on Friday night at the Mikdash Yosef Orthodox synagogue in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
A woman entered the building during Shabbat evening services and was told by worshippers that she could not remain. After the service, as some members of the Jewish community stood talking on the sidewalk in front of the temple, a homeless man identified as a friend of the woman, broke a bottle and threatened the community members, shouted insults and threw stones. The synagogue’s rabbi, Uriel Husni, grappled with the man and was injured in the arms. The aggressor was eventually held by community members until the police came, according to reports.
The news spread quickly on social media after Shabbat with different versions about whether or not the couple used anti-Semitic expressions. The first versions suggested that the attack was pre-planned and of an anti-Semitic nature. By Sunday morning, new information shared by witnesses clarified the case as a street fight with drunk homeless people.
The incident raises questions about anti-Semitism in Argentina. The Annual Anti-Semitism Report by the Center for Social Studies of the Delegation of Argentine Israelites Associations, or DAIA, a Jewish umbrella group, revealed that during 2017 there were a 14 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents compared to the previous year.
The Mikdash Yosef attack is a new and different type of attack, a physical attack on Jews, while most attacks in Argentina center around the use of hate speech. The DAIA report also found that almost 90 percent of the 404 complaints dealth with anti-Semitism online, in social networks or on news websites. The 2018 report has not yet been published.
Recently, an attack against Argentina’s chief rabbi was first characterized as anti-Semitic which later turned out not to be the case.
DAIA said it would not comment on the Mikdash Yosef synagogue incident until the results of further investigation on Monday are known.