Monsey stabbing: Trump urges unity against anti-Semitism ‘scourge’

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US President Donald Trump has urged unity to fight against anti-Semitism, a day after a stabbing attack on a rabbi's house in New York state.

"We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism," he said.

At least five people were injured in the attack in Monsey, north of New York City on Saturday.

The attacker was later arrested in New York's Harlem area. He has since been charged with attempted murder.

Witnesses said the attacker burst into the house, which was hosting a Hanukkah celebration, pulled out a large knife and began attacking people.

Guests reportedly threw tables and chairs at the man, who then attempted to enter a synagogue next door before fleeing in a car.

However his vehicle registration was passed to police and licence-plate scanners picked up the car as it entered New York City, where he was detained.

Police have named him as Grafton Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, New York.

He has been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, the Associated Press reports.

What are New York authorities saying about the attack?

State Governor Andrew Cuomo has described the attack as "domestic terrorism".

Hatred based on race, colour and creed was an "American cancer spreading in the body politic", the governor told a news conference on Sunday.

He called for a domestic terrorism law in the state to prosecute such crimes.

He described the attack as "very disturbing" but said it was not an isolated incident, adding that hostility based on race, religion and immigration status was spreading across the country.

"It is domestic terrorism. These are people who intend to create mass harm, mass violence, and generate fear based on race, colour, creed. That is the definition of terrorism," he said.

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"Just because they don't come from another country doesn't mean they are not terrorists. They should be prosecuted as domestic terrorists."

"We are not going to let this poison spread. No one else can defeat this county, but this country can defeat itself," he added.

The attack came a day after New York police said officers were stepping up patrols in heavily Jewish districts following a spate of anti-Semitic threats and attacks.

Two of the victims were still in hospital, police said.

What happened?

A man brandishing a machete attacked a Hanukkah celebration at the rabbi's property in Monsey – an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews. The incident happened at about 22:00 on Saturday (03:00 GMT Sunday).

"The house had many dozens of people in there," Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of OJPAC for the Hudson Valley region, told the New York Times.

He said the assailant had his face partially covered by a scarf during the attack and the rabbi's son was one of those he wounded, Mr Gestetner said.

Aron Kohn, 65, was in the rabbi's home at the time. He told the paper: "I was praying for my life. He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn't have time to react at all."

Mr Kohn said that the attacker then tried to enter a synagogue next to the house, but people inside had locked the door.

What other reaction has there been?

President Trump said the attack was "horrific".

Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific. We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2019

End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

In Israel, President Reuven Rivlin expressed his "shock and outrage" at the attack.

"The rise of anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem, and certainly not just the State of Israel's problem," he said in a statement.

"We must work together to confront this evil, which is raising its head again and is a genuine threat around the world."

Steve Gold from the Jewish Federation in Rockland County said the US had failed the Jewish community.

"My parents were Holocaust survivors and my father made me promise to do what I can to make sure it never happens again. Today I can say I failed my father. The US has failed my parents and all Holocaust survivors. This cannot continue," he said.

The attack follows a series of anti-Semitic threats and attacks in and around New York City. On Friday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced extra police patrols in three areas of Brooklyn.

Responding to the attack in Monsey, Mr de Blasio said he could not "overstate the fear people are feeling right now".

"We will not allow this to become the new normal. We'll use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all," he said.

Skip Twitter post by @NewYorkStateAG

I am deeply disturbed by the situation unfolding in Monsey, New York tonight.

There is zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation.

I stand with the Jewish community tonight and every night.

— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) December 29, 2019

End of Twitter post by @NewYorkStateAG

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah marks the victory of Judah Maccabee over the Syrian Greeks in the Second Century BC and the recapture of Jerusalem.

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