Global Spate of Physical Assaults Targeting Jews Raises Concerns Ahead of High Holiday Season

A screenshot from the incident in Aventura, Florida. The suspected assailant, Marcos Rodriguez, is shirtless, on the left.

August 26, 2021

The past week saw a troubling spate of physical assaults targeting Jews worldwide, raising safety concerns ahead of the upcoming High Holiday season, when Jewish communities generally go on higher alert for potential threats.

Five of the incidents occurred in the United Kingdom, while the others took place in the United States, Germany and Italy.

In London, England, police were searching for a man donning traditional Muslim garb who attacked four Jewish passersby in separate incidents, with one elderly victim being hospitalized after getting knocked unconscious by a punch to the face, according to media reports.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan commented, “Let me be clear, racist abuse and hate crime, including antisemitism, have absolutely no place in our city.”

Also in London this week, occupants of a vehicle threw a can of Red Bull at a Jewish pedestrian and verbally harassed him.

Meanwhile, at a public park in Cologne, Germany, last Friday night, an 18-year-old kippah-wearing Jewish boy was physically beaten by a group of ten young assailants, DW reported.

The victim was transported to a hospital for treatment of a broken nose and cheekbone.

Police have identified two suspects and an investigation is ongoing.

German Federal Antisemitism Commissioner Felix Klein said, “I am appalled by this horrific and cowardly attack on a young man who was violently assaulted by a group and seriously injured for apparently antisemitic motives.”

“I hope that the suspected perpetrators, who are apparently only 18 and 19 years old, will be ordered to undergo educational programs in which they will be taught the basic principles of the rule of law and of our free democratic order,” said Klein.

In Sirmione, Italy, a Jewish man who owns and runs a kosher hotel with his son, was visciously beaten and called a dirty Jew by a neighboring hotel proprietor who owed him money, the Italian antisemitism watchdog Osservatorio Antisemitismo reported.

And across the Atlantic Ocean, a Jewish man was physical attacked in front of his five children during a confrontation at a hotel pool in Aventura, Florida, Local 10 News reported.

The incident took place at the J.W. Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa. The suspected assailant, Marcos Rodriguez, can be seen on video slapping Alain Altit in the face in a dispute that broke out when Rodriguez was heard calling a woman a “dirty Jew” after water dripped from her bathing suit onto Rodriguez’s wife’s towel.

“The guy was definitely trying to pick a fight with a Jew,” Atlit’s wife, Tanya Cohen, said of Rodriguez. “We are in 2021. This shouldn’t be happening anymore. There’s no room for antisemitism. It’s enough.”

Rodriguez was arrested after the incident.

Aventura Police Major Michael Bentolila said, “We take any threat to anyone seriously, especially if it has to do with race, ethnicity, anything along those lines.”

“If our investigation leads us any further, there could be an enhanced hate crime,” he added.