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Hanukkah attacker charged with hate crimes

by Samantha Gobba
Posted 12/31/19, 11:10 am

Grafton Thomas searched the internet for “Why did Hitler hate the Jews” weeks before barging into a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration and injuring five people on Saturday. Federal authorities have charged the 37-year old man with hate crimes for swinging a machete at the dozens of people gathered in the Monsey, N.Y., home.

Hateful, or just insane? Yossi Gestetner, a neighbor of Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, whose home Thomas entered on Saturday, said he was grateful for the hate crime charges. “People in the Orthodox Jewish community have been expressing concern for a very long time that there is a strain of hatred targeted toward them,” Gestetner said. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the stabbing was the state’s 13th anti-Semitic incident in three weeks.

Thomas’ family said he “was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races,” but he suffered from psychosis and severe depression for which he had previously been hospitalized. His lawyer, Michael Sussman, said drawings of swastikas and stars of David in Thomas’ journals were the “ramblings of a disturbed individual.” Thomas said he followed voices that directed him to Rottenberg’s home.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift on what happened during the attack.

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Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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