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A Jewish Deli Institution Was Vandalized With a Swastika

2nd Ave Deli owner claims it was related to his staunch pro-Israel stance

A waitress holds pastrami sandwiches inside the 2nd Avenue D
Second Avenue Deli.
Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A swastika was graffitied on the side of the building that houses New York institution 2nd Ave Deli on the Upper East Side this week.

“It’s sad that people just feel the need to say they hate Jews in 2023. That people can just be so open about it. That Jew hatred is out there [sic], and now people just feel more empowered to say it,” owner Jeremy Lebewohl told the New York Post. Until this week, the restaurant had never been tagged with the antisemitic hate symbol representative of Nazis.

The incident, alerted to Lebewohl by a neighbor on October 17, came in the days following the Hamas attacks on Israel. The ongoing conflict has led some in New York, including several Jewish and Israeli restaurants, to post on social media their fears of the rising wave of antisemitism locally and abroad. Earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that antisemitism was already at an “all-time high” in the U.S. In 2021, New York State finally made it illegal to show symbols of hate on public property.

This vandalism is the latest occurrence of a growing wave of harassment in New York that has stemmed from the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Elsewhere, as Eater reported, a family-owned Palestinian restaurant has been the subject of online harassment in the form of a flood of one-star reviews following the restaurant calling for an “end to apartheid,” fair treatment for Palestinians, and “peace for all.”

2nd Ave Deli’s Instagram post showing the tagged swastika calls the conflict “a fight of good vs evil” and follows more than two dozen pro-Israel posts since the October 7 Hamas attacks, some of which call for more Israeli military actions. “If Israel used all its military might all its enemies would be destroyed,” Lebewohl wrote on the deli’s Instagram account on October 17. “Israel is going to use all its strength to protect the lives of the innocent while making sure that Hamas won’t be able to hurt anyone again.”

Thousands of people have been killed since the October 7 attacks, and the situation in the Gaza Strip is a humanitarian crisis, with bombings and moves by the Israeli Defense Force that human rights organizations like Amnesty International have called “illegal,” and other groups like Jewish Voice for Peace calling for a “ceasefire.”