A suspect who attacked a Jewish man because he was wearing a sweater bearing the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) insignia was arrested this Tuesday, the New York Post reports.
Suleiman Othman, 27, of Staten Island, allegedly attacked 21-year-old Blake Zavadsky in Brooklyn, New York, on Dec. 21. Police say Othman was charged with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment.
Zavadsky says he was with a friend when two men approached.
“They asked us what we were doing in their neighborhood. They called us ‘dirty Jews,'" Zavadsky said, adding that the men took particular interest in his sweater.
“The one who punched me said if I don’t take my sweatshirt off, he’s going to rock me,” said Zavadsky, who refused to take his sweater. Zavadsky says Othman punched him twice in the face and doused him with iced coffee.
Zavadsky friend, 21-year-old Ilan Kaganovich, said he was threatened he'd also be assaulted if he intervened.
“You can’t be scared to walk outside and say you’re Jewish,” Zavadsky said, adding that he plans on continuing to wear his IDF hoodie in public. “You have to be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe — and not be intimidated.”
Othman has three prior arrests for menacing, robbery and endangering the welfare of a child.