New York City leaders urge calm amid reports of Jew-Arab tension

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Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other politicians in New York have called for calm in response to reports that Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn were being harassed by Arab immigrants.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other politicians in New York have called for calm in response to reports that Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn were being harassed by Arab immigrants.

At a news conference in Brooklyn, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew, said his office had received numerous calls from Jews claiming they were victims of Arab Americans angered over the recent outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Mideast.

Hikind, who was joined by local rabbis and politicians, demanded more police protection in the city's Jewish neighborhoods. "The key message is to not bring the hostilities to our shores," he said. "It doesn't serve anything."

Giuliani made a similar appeal at a separate appearance in the Bronx. "Whatever is happening in any other part of the world should not reflect itself in any viciousness or nastiness happening in the city," the mayor said.

The Police Department confirmed its Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating two possible bias attacks on Jews in Brooklyn in recent days. The alleged victims were ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe they were targeted because of their black hats and other conservative clothing, Hikind said.

In one case, a 50-year-old man told police he was accosted on the street at night by two men who punched him in the back of the head, shouted anti-Jewish epithets and slashed him across the forehead with a boxcutter before fleeing. In the other, a 30-year-old man reported that a group of men waving Palestinian flags cornered him Monday afternoon on a subway train and kicked him.

Amira Solh, an organizer of a protest Monday outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan, said Tuesday that "any such acts would be deplorable."

"We would never sanction anything that promotes this type of response," said Solh, a member of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. "It's not Arabs against Jews. It's not a religious war. ... Our problem is with the Israeli government."

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