I was skating in Midtown Manhattan on Christmas night when an antisemitic, Israel-hating, pro-Hamas thug came over to me on the ice and said “Free Palestine,” endangering me, as I was on the ice and I had broken my arm just a few weeks earlier. He would not leave me alone. He said, “We all know you. Your name is Rabbi Shmuley. We watch you on TV and social media. You can’t expect to go around New York and get away with what you’re doing to support genocide and apartheid.”
The message was clear. I am a marked man.
Just two days earlier I had engendered unwanted world headlines when an Arab family saw me and my youngest daughter, Cheftziba, 15, in Times Square, and began to verbally assault me with the same Free Palestine chants. They told me that they recognized who I was as a defender of Israel, and it only escalated from there.
An “11-year-old” — so she said — Muslim girl from the family walked over to me again and told me to kill myself because I’m a Jew. They then had their small child kick me repeatedly to humiliate me while their daughter continued to say that I should kill myself. The video of the incident has already been watched by tens of millions of people the world over. Celebrities, like tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, who saw and reposted the video, wrote, “Pretty sad. And the mother is laughing. Pathetic.”
Yes. While her daughter told me to kill myself and her 3- or 4-year-old son repeatedly kicked me, the Muslim mother smiled broadly and proudly as if she had done her job well, to inculcate within her children a lethal hate of Jews.
This is how Britain’s Daily Mail reported the story:
“A Muslim family aggressively accosted a prominent Rabbi in New York City’s Times Square, telling him to kill himself if he has a problem with a free Palestine.
“The widely viewed video captured the family’s smirking demeanor as a young girl, claiming to be 11 years old and from Canada, delivers the disturbing message.
“‘If you have a problem with free Palestine, kill yourself,’ she said to the man on camera. ‘Yeah, go ahead … you can’t do anything about it because I live in Canada.’
“‘You want me to kill myself because I am Jewish? You want Jews to die?’ Rabbi Shmuley Boteach asked. The girl replied, ‘Yes — go ahead.’
“The family displayed no remorse and declined to condemn the hate speech or offer an apology to the Jewish-American rabbi, author, and TV host.
“The video, posted on X by Boteach on Sunday, has garnered over 7 million views.
“The viral incident is the latest in a string of high-profile antisemitic incidents in New York City since October 7, with protests spreading and people tearing down posters of hostages in Israel.”
What an understatement.
Antisemitism has crested into a tsunami of hate in America and around the world with New York City as one of its leading epicenters. Try walking through Times Square with a yarmulke. Better, walk-through Times Square and try to even find a yarmulke. We Jews are becoming like the Jews of London, Brussels, Madrid, and Paris, who know how to hide their Jewishness. But the difference, of course, is that New York City has more Jews in it than any city in the history of the world, with the possible exception of Warsaw before the Holocaust.
On Saturday night when this all happened, I truly felt like I was in Berlin in the early 1930s. The humiliation of being told that I should kill myself while being kicked by a small child while so many onlookers looked on just stared blankly, or worse, many even walking over and saying, “She’s right,” shocked me to my core.
The NYPD were in Times Square but did nothing. I have reached out to the police force leaders and will be meeting with them later this week.
But even this pales compared to what transpired with me in London a month ago when I debated the repugnant, execrable, and thoroughly craven Islamist Muhammad Hijab — who has many millions of followers on social media all over the world — on the Piers Morgan show, decimating him in debate before a globally televised audience and showing him up for the ignorant bigot he is.
His response? The very next day, he posted photos of my IDF soldier sons, who are fighting in the war in Israel, as corpses in body bags, God forbid. The message was clear. By fighting the Islamists, I had put myself and my family in terrible danger, and that violent people like Mohammed Hijab — who has already said that AIDS is a punishment from God to kill gays and that the Koran does not preclude 5-year-old-girls from having sex, and has expressed support for the murder of ex-Muslims who have renounced the faith — could easily call upon a vast network of extremists, or a radical lone wolf, to harm me and my family.
As the threats multiplied, my wife and I met with FBI counterterrorism agents and are in the midst of reporting the threats to the London Metropolitan Police and other law enforcement authorities.
And this, of course, is aside from the tens and tens of violent death threats I receive on social media every single week.
The dangers are real. The violence is serious. And the hatred of these people is deranged and psychotic.
But while I will, of course, God willing, take the necessary security precautions to keep myself and my family and my community safe — all of which, of course, sadly, is a very expensive proposition — I know that I, and all Jews, cannot, and must not, cower in fear.
This is exactly what the Islamists want: for us Jews to become the illuminati, a secret society who hide in plain sight. They want us to disappear from public view. For our yarmulkes to be taken off, or replaced with baseball caps, and our tzitzis tucked in, and our Magen Davids hidden, until any public visible trace of the Jewish people disappears from the earth.
In other words, the Islamists know that they are too weak to defeat Israel, even as Arab nations have attempted to do just that for decades. (In the video in Times Square the father said to me with a broad smile, “You will never defeat Islam, because it is too strong and too large.”) So as they bide their time and build their strength in the meantime and send in their 3,000 terrorists to gang-rape, decapitate, and burn Jews alive, the strategy is to make us Jews psychologically fear them, and grant them at least our disappearance as a public victory.
The victory they seek in the short term is to make us so afraid that we actually choose to disappear even as we continue to exist.
That is exactly why we must do precisely the opposite. Now is the time to hang Israeli flags outside our homes, unapologetically and without fear. Now is the time for Hillels and Chabad Houses on campus to give their students Israeli flag pins and yarmulkes to show that we are never cowed, we are never bullied, and we are never afraid.
Now is the time to bring more pro-Israel speakers to universities to fight back against the tidal wave of anti-Israel filth and anti-Jewish libel.
Won’t this make us targets? Won’t this put us in greater danger?
But the danger is there regardless, and it can honestly and effectively be countered only by showing that we can never be bullied.
The best way to deal with a bully is to show them that you cannot be intimidated. The more we see visible Jews in the streets, the more our enemies will know that we can never be defeated.
And I make the pivotal point that I am not speaking about Muslims, but Islamists. Muslims are our brothers and sisters under God. Islamists are hate-filled miscreants who abuse and defile a great world religion. And it is my fervent hope and belief that by showing our Muslim brothers that we do not recoil before the Islamists, that they too will indeed finally take back their religion from all-too-many murderers and killers who are an abomination to Islam.
This year was the worst Chanukah ever. It was supposed to be a celebration of a great Jewish military victory and miracle of lights 2,500 years ago. But waking up every day to read how five, or 10, or 15 young Israeli soldiers — most of them 18 to 24, or in their 30s with large families — were murdered made any joy on Chanukah utterly impossible.
But perhaps by the time Purim comes around, we will be able to finally celebrate a great Israeli victory in Gaza and the destruction of Hamas. Because Purim is the story of a man named Mordechai, who was distinguished by one great facet of his character. Haman was the ultimate bully and wanted all Jews to prostrate themselves before him, quite literally. But Mordechai “would not cower and would not bend.” He was a Jew who stood up straight.
This is the same posture that we must now begin to exhibit.
On Monday night, January 29, I will commemorate the first yahrzeit of my mother of blessed memory, Eleanor Esther Elka Paul. I will be dedicating a Torah in her name that has been written by one of Israel’s leading scribes over the past 12 months.
But as soon as I heard the story of Shani Louk, the beautiful young German-Israeli girl who was paraded naked and dead through Gaza, with the lecherous, necrophiliac, disgusting, vile Hamas terrorists screaming “Allahu Akhbar” and desecrating her body, I got in touch with her parents, Ricarda and Nissim Louk, in Israel, and told them that I wanted to also dedicate the Torah to their daughter, to which they very graciously agreed. I explained that an act of desecration of that caliber could be remedied only through an act of consecration like having a Torah written in her memory.
The event will take place at Carnegie Hall and will feature a discussion about how we overcome grief, tragedy, and sadness in such dark times. The speakers will be Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose father was murdered by an Islamic terrorist in 1968, when RFK Jr. was just 14 years old; the great Jewish philanthropist, Miriam Adelson, who recently lost her husband, the visionary philanthropist, Sheldon; and Ricarda Louk.
And the message of the evening? Tragedy, sadness, and despair surround us all right now, in this darkest of times. But we will never be afraid. We will always choose life. We the Jewish nation, and those people whom we inspire, like our Catholic brothers, like Robert Kennedy, and all our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as many peace-loving Muslims who look to us and our Bible for illumination and guidance, must never despair.
Should you like to attend and honor Shani Louk and all the martyrs of October 7th, please go to Worldvalues.US/Events or write to email@example.com.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of “Judaism for Everyone”
and “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter