June 24, 2024
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Teaneck Law Enforcement Wrangles Pro-Palestinian Mob

The Teaneck Police Department led multiple law enforcement agencies in responding to a planned protest at an Israeli real estate fair on Sunday at a synagogue in Teaneck. Close to 1,000 pro-Palestinian protesters were seen waving flags as they marched west on New Bridge Road toward Congregation Keter Torah, chanting Free Palestine slogans, including “There is only one solution. Intifada revolution,” and “Long live the intifada.”

The police department reportedly arrested two protesters late in the day for spraying pedestrians with a red liquid. “They are currently in custody and will be processed and charged by the police department,” wrote Dean Kazinci, Teaneck’s town manager, in an email on Sunday. Multiple people leaving the event reported that red paintballs were shot at their cars but that they were encouraged to leave the area and file police reports.

A statement released on Monday by the Teaneck Police Department indicated the two offenders were identified as Letticia Freitas and Mahdy Soleiman, who were charged with counts of bias intimidation, criminal mischief, assault and harassment. Both Freitas and Soleiman were released from custody later in the day pending an appearance in Bergen Central Judicial Processing Court. Neither of the offenders are Teaneck residents and had addresses listed in Worcester, MA and East Hanover, NJ, respectively. Notably, Freitas appears to have faced charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer back in 2018, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Kazinci said that law enforcement was successful in preventing significant civil unrest. “As with any gathering of this size and magnitude, some minor skirmishes took place. The police exercised excellent judgment and restraint in not escalating a very volatile situation,” he wrote.

Thirty volunteers from CSS (Community Security Services) from many synagogues around Bergen County stepped up to assist in securing the event as well, which went on as expected and was well attended. In addition to the volunteer security detail, Teaneck Police Department also had assistance from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Hackensack Police Department, Bergenfield Police Department, New Milford Police Department, and many others who make up the rapid deployment force.

“Today we heard from 1,000 pro-Palestinian protesters. They expressed no desire for a ceasefire or for peace; just the sole hope to take over the entire land of Israel and expel, or do worse, to the Jewish occupants. This isn’t my opinion. This was their words. Their chants. For hours. For months. Here in Teaneck and across the whole world,” said Teaneck Councilman Mark Schwartz, who is also co-publisher of The Jewish Link.

Bergen County Jewish Action Committee (BCJAC) condemned the protest, saying that the informational program on real estate in Israel at Congregation Keter Torah was a “cynical attempt to target a religious institution under false pretenses as part of a coordinated and malicious campaign to harass Teaneck’s Jewish community,” said Yigal Gross, BCJAC’s spokesman.

Organizers of the protest misrepresented the event as a synagogue-sponsored illegal auction of stolen Palestinian land which excluded non-whites from attending. “All of these claims are categorically false,” he said. The synagogue was not sponsoring the event, there was no sale of any kind taking place; no ethnic groups were excluded from the event, and no laws were being violated in holding the fair.

“These claims are simply smokescreens for what this really is—a malicious attempt to target and harass a Jewish community,” said Gross.

Teaneck Town Council member Hillary Goldberg recounted the events of the day, describing a variety of assaults and destructive behavior.

“I watched our police get verbally abused. I watched water bottles get thrown on cars as they drove by. I watched people, from young children to old men, calling for our destruction and that of Israel,” Goldberg shared. “This was antisemitism. All of it. It was not a peaceful protest. This was a hateful protest.”

As they have elsewhere in the United States and abroad in the wake of Israel’s defensive war against the terrorist group Hamas following the October 7th massacre, pro-Hamas demonstrators have escalated their attempts to target Jewish communities. Teaneck, where Jewish residents number as much as 40% of population, has seen numerous protests over these past months.

“It is no coincidence that this quiet New Jersey town has become such a flashpoint for pro-Palestinian activism,” said Gross. “These protestors are here because we are here. They are seeking out and targeting Teaneck’s Jews.”

BCJAC supported a fundraiser for every protester who protested the real estate marketing event; A donation was made to American Friend of Magen David Adom (MDA), the Red Cross equivalent in Israel, which saves the lives of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel every day. At press time almost $15,000 had been raised. Various Teaneck, Bergenfield and New Milford WhatsApp groups also collected donations to purchase coffee and doughnuts to thank local police departments for Monday morning.

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