A leading US Jewish antisemitism watchdog criticized on Tuesday the sentencing of Suleiman Othman, who was recently convicted of assaulting a Jewish man in an antisemitic attack that occurred in Dec. 2021.
Othman pleaded on Monday guilty to third-degree assault but will only serve 60 days in jail, per a “promise” Senior Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Sharmalee Brooks-Gordon made to him.
“We are extremely troubled that repeat violent antisemite Suleiman Othman was sentenced to a mere two months in prison for his unprovoked assault on Blake Zavadsky,” StopAntisemitism, a nonprofit that tracks antisemitic incidents across the world, said in a press release. “These slap on the wrist punishments only serve to make New York City’s Jews less safe by emboldening those who would do them harm.”
StopAntisemitism CEO Liora Rez added that hate-driven brutality should not go unpunished.
“That just green-lights more violence,” Rez said in an interview with The Algemeiner..
On Dec. 26, 2021, Othman, a 28-year-old Staten Island native, spotted victim Blake Zavadsky, who was wearing an Israel Defense Forces sweatshirt, and his friend, Ilan Kaganovich, outside a Foot Locker on 86th Street in Bay Ridge, according to a criminal complaint. He walked up to them and said, “Why do you support those dirty Jews?…You have five seconds to take off that sweatshirt or I’ll rock you.” After Zavadsky refused to accede to his demand, Othman struck him in the face twice while a crony of his threatened to assault Kaganovich next. In finishing off the attack, Othman doused Zavadsky’s sweatshirt in iced coffee.
On Tuesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez framed the outcome of the case as a victory for New Yorkers, saying it “should send a message that this kind of intolerance has serious consequences.” He also discussed the strength of diversity and condemned “bias against any religious or national identity” but did not address antisemitism specifically.
In 2021, the year in which Othman attacked Zavadsky, there were 2,717 such incidents, which was at the time the highest ever on record.