Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

Police officers escort Grafton Thomas to a police vehicle on Dec. 29, 2019, in Ramapo, N.Y. after he stabbed multiple people gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi's home in the Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. (AP file photo)
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Updated 23 February 2020

Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

  • Josef Gluck is credited with stopping the Dec. 28 assault in Monsey, New York, and led police to arrest the attacker
  • Grafton Thomas, accused of stabbing five men, was found to have anti-Semitic writings and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone

WEST NYACK, New York: An Orthodox Jewish man credited as a hero for attacking a knife-wielding man who stabbed five people during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City is refusing to take a $20,000 reward from established Jewish groups because he considers them Zionists, according to a rabbi who knows him.
Officials with the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League told The Journal News that they were caught off guard by Josef Gluck’s decision to turn down the reward, the newspaper reported Friday.
“The reward would have been for anybody who offered information that would lead to an arrest,” said Miriam Allenson, spokesperson for the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County. “That was what was on our minds.”
Allenson said that there were no strings with the money and that the groups had “no idea” regarding Gluck’s decision to turn away the funds.
The reward presentation event was scheduled for Feb. 6, but Gluck said he had a family emergency, Allenson said.
Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Monsey said Gluck’s decision stems from the discomfort he and some other Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews have with organizations like the Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League. Feldman said Gluck was preparing to notify the groups in writing to explain in more detail his reasons for declining the reward.
Rabbi Feldman is a leader of Neturei Karta International. Its Orthodox Jewish members believe “the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law.”
“It was his choice not to accept,” Allenson said Monday. “We’re letting it go. There’s nothing else to say.”
Gluck is credited with throwing his body in front of the machete-wielding man and using a wooden table to try and stop the Dec. 28 assault in Monsey, the newspaper reported. He then lured the attacker outside and documented the attacker’s license plate number and alerted police.
Gluck has received several honors for his heroism, including a congressional certificate presented by US Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, of Harrison, the Town of Ramapo’s Freedom Award and a New York State Senate Liberty Medal.
Evan Bernstein, an Anti-Defamation League vice president, said that while the group is disappointed Gluck decided not to accept the award, it will continue to work closely with the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey and elsewhere and offer rewards when merited to assist law enforcement in the investigation of hate crimes.
Grafton Thomas, the man accused in the stabbing, pleaded not guilty on multiple hate crime charges. Investigators found anti-Semitic writings in Thomas’s journals and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone, according to a complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office. Thomas’ defense attorney said last month that a psychiatrist found Thomas incompetent to stand trial.
The attack left five men wounded, including a 72-year-old who remains in a coma with a fractured skull and other injuries.


Zimbabwe tightens coronavirus lockdown in capital Harare

Updated 02 June 2020

Zimbabwe tightens coronavirus lockdown in capital Harare

  • Opposition movement said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was trying to suppress protests over a worsening economy
  • Coronavirus infections have more than tripled to 203 in the last few days

HARARE: Zimbabwean troops and police on Tuesday tightened the coronavirus lockdown in the capital Harare, blocking many cars and buses from entering the central business district as cases of infections increased.
But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was trying to suppress protests over a worsening economy and to stop MDC supporters from gathering at the courts where the lawyer for its leader was due to appear after being arrested on Monday.
Coronavirus infections have more than tripled to 203 in the last few days. Mnangagwa had eased the lockdown since it was first imposed at the end of March.
On Tuesday, however, police and soldiers turned away many commuters and cars, including those with work letters, at check points leading into town except critical staff like health workers as well as state employees, witnesses said.
“Please note that it is not everyone who should be in the CBD (central business district),” the police said in a statement.
A Reuters witness saw a group of soldiers and police in downtown Harare ordering people to leave the city center and shops to close.
By lunchtime businesses in downtown had shut, but in another part of town, where government offices are located, some businesses, including supermarkets and banks, were open.
The state-owned Herald newspaper, which reflects government thinking, published pictures on its website of people walking back home on foot.
There were no similar reports from other cities.
The MDC has accused the government of using curbs on movements to persecute its members and sees a political motive behind Monday intensifications of the lockdown.
“So if this is about Covid-19 why is it only happening in Harare? This appears to be more about politics than medicine or health,” MDC senator David Coltart wrote on Twitter.