Men Who Assaulted Jews in Brooklyn Over Gaza War Plead Guilty, Avoid Jail

By Reuvain Borchardt

Surveillance footage shows two men accosting a Jew on 16th Avenue in Boro Park, Shabbos, May 22, 2021.

BROOKLYN — Three men accused of perpetrating two antisemitic assaults in Brooklyn during last year’s Israel-Hamas war have pleaded guilty to hate crimes but avoided jail time, accepting a deal offered by a judge over the objections of prosecutors and decried by several of the victims and local officials as excessively lenient.

Danial Shaukat of Bensonhurst and Haider Anjam of Midwood pleaded guilty to felony third-degree assault as a hate crime, and will be sentenced to five years of probation. Both were 20 years old at the time of the incidents. Ashan Azad of Midwood pleaded guilty to misdemeanor aggravated harassment as a hate crime, and will be sentenced to three years of probation. He was 19 at the time of the incidents.

“Hate crime numbers are so high because the repercussions are so minimal,” a victim of one assault, which occurred in Boro Park, told Hamodia. “It’s a shame that they’re not getting any prison time.”

The incidents occurred on May 22, 2021, a day after a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect following 11 days of fighting in Gaza, and were among the last of a rash of attacks committed against Jews in the U.S. by supporters of Palestinians, surrounding this conflict.

On that May 22 Shabbos afternoon, the three men allegedly drove to Ocean Parkway and 18th Avenue in Kensington, when Anjam and Shaukat exited the vehicle and approached two Jewish teens who were coming home from prayers. They demanded that the teens say, “Free Palestine,” and when the teens refused, Anjam and Shaukat began punching them. Azad then exited the driver’s seat and joined in the assault. One victim was punched in the back of the head; the other was punched in the head, face and mouth, and placed in a chokehold.

As the victims fled, Anjam retrieved a cricket bat from the car trunk and chased them. They were rescued by a Muslim Lyft driver, who drove them away to safety.

On the same day, the men drove to 16th Avenue in Boro Park, where they began harassing and menacing Jews outside the Agudah shul on 49th Street.

They began shouting “Free Palestine” and “Kill all the Jews,” and spat in the direction of one Jewish man. Anjam and Shaukat then exited the car, and approached two Jewish men, and made similar threatening statements. When Jewish adults and children ran inside the shul and locked the door, the perpetrators banged on the door. Before leaving the scene, Azad kicked and broke the mirror of a nearby parked car.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office had requested jail time for each of the perpetrators: six months for Shaukat, one year for Anjam, and 30 days for Azad. But Justice Danny Chun offered the plea deal for probation, which the defendants accepted. They will be formally sentenced November 30.

In a statement to Hamodia, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA said, “These defendants were charged and prosecuted for an intolerable antisemitic hate crime, for which we recommended jail time. They admitted to their criminal conduct and accepted the Court’s offer over our objection. Our office remains committed to vigorously prosecuting anyone who targets others because of their appearance or their religion, and will continue to engage communities to prevent hate crimes, to comprehensively investigate alleged offenses, and to hold offenders responsible.”

A second victim of the Boro Park incident said he appreciated that the DA’s office requested jail time, and was displeased the judge let the defendants off without jail.

“Just like with the bail reform, this is another illustration of how there are no consequences for committing crimes,” said the second victim. “It’s no wonder that people are fleeing New York in record numbers.”

All victims spoke to Hamodia on condition of anonymity.

A third victim of the Boro Park incident — who was spat on by one of the defendants — said he believed the sentence was reasonable.

“We know there is a concept in the Torah that there is no punishment unless there is a warning,” said the victim. “I consider this probation to be a warning. If they do this again, they will get punished.”

This third victim took a magnanimous attitude toward the assailants.

“They were young boys, they got wild, and now they’ve been warned,” he said. “I’m sure they will change their behavior. If they cease their hateful actions, this will have a been a good warning.”

None of the defendants had any prior convictions.

But local officials said the sentence does not satisfy the demands of justice, nor does it disincentivize future actions.

“The sad reality is that there are no consequences for hate crimes committed against the Jewish people,” said Dov Hikind a former Assemblyman who now founded the Americans Against Antisemtism group. “Shame on the judge who shows greater compassion for the perpetrators than the victims.”

Americans Against Antisemitism recently released a report that says antisemitic attacks in New York City have rarely resulted in jail time for the perpetrators.

Councilman Kalman Yeger called the sentence a “disgrace.”

“These are exactly the crimes that should require jail time, because otherwise they’re going to do it again and again and again, and so will all the other antisemites,” said Yeger. “This is exactly how antisemitism doesn’t get stopped, and is precisely what’s wrong with New York’s criminal justice system.”

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