NY Jews fear for community after deli defaced with swastika: ‘Pandora’s box of hell has been unleashed’

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An iconic kosher deli in New York City’s Upper East Side remains defiant after the side of the building housing the eatery was defaced with a swastika earlier this week in another unnerving display of antisemitism.

“I feel like this war has brought out antisemitism’s ugly head. It was always there. It was quelled, but the Pandora’s box of hell has been unleashed,” one diner at 2nd Ave Deli told FOX News’ Lawrence Jones Thursday.

“You feel it on the streets. You see it around people, you see it around college campuses, and you feel it. And people aren’t standing up and people aren’t speaking enough, and that’s what we need to do. We need to stand up. We need to speak up. It’s wrong. You can’t deny it.”

Jones mingled with the diners after the antisemitic vandalism took place, hearing their concerns and thoughts on anti-Israel demonstrations.

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Another diner told him, “I feel like I’m living the first chapter of my grandfather’s Holocaust survival story,” before honing in on the terror Jewish students are feeling at schools.

“Their friends don’t care about the hostages, and there’s a polarization that’s just been permeating into their every day. They don’t feel safe. They can’t go to class without being worried that someone’s going to attack them on their way to school, on their way to class,” she said.

“I think that it’s intellectual laziness that has caused these kids to rely on a TikTok algorithm versus studies, critical thinking and empathy. That empathy is gone. I think that’s the scariest thing.”

Another diner noted a “disinterest in understanding that what’s really going on and the facts.”

“We need to all be educated, and the hostages need to come home. It’s a really, really simple discussion,” a different diner chimed in. “There are babies that are sitting as hostages in a world. I can’t understand how we can possibly allow that to exist. No matter what side you sit on. The babies need to be freed. The hostages need to be freed and brought home.”

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While at the table, Jones also spoke to former State Department official Ellie Cohanim, who called on the Biden administration to offer Title VI protections – protections based on “race, color or national origin” – to Jewish college students.

“President Trump passed an executive order combating antisemitism back in 2019, but what we need to see is the Biden administration actually enforce the executive order of giving Jewish college students Title VI protection for the first time in American history. So the Biden administration is really not stepping up to the plate,” Cohanim said.

Concerns were echoed by students as well, including one who told Jones it’s “terrifying” to be on campus now as students and professors push “rampant antisemitism.”

“The faculty isn’t doing much about it at all. And we’re seeing just a spew of facts that are simply not true,” a NYU student said.

Another stark warning came from the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who warned, “it’s history repeating itself.”

Jones also sat down with the restaurant’s owners Jack and Josh Lebewohl during his visit and asked them about their resilience after the establishment was vandalized.

“I think antisemitism is on the rise. It’s unfortunately always been here, but the actions of Hamas has really brought out some people out of the woodwork,” Josh said.

“Why are you all standing so firm in this moment? Because you all can run away. You all can close your doors, but you’re being proud. Why?” Jones asked.

“My brother was actually the one who founded the 2nd Avenue Deli,” Jack answered. “Unfortunately, when he was shot, we were forced to step in. And we’re here. We’re proud, and we’re not going to let anyone drive us away.”

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