Highland Park, NJ – The sleepy Central-Jersey town of Highland Park, home to a large Jewish community, was on edge this afternoon in the wake of an overnight vandalism-spree.
The attacks appeared to be anti-Semitic in nature as all the businesses that were targeted have Jewish owners.
Shop-owners at two local kosher restaurants, two judaica stores and a Jewish-owned hardware store arrived at their places of business this morning to the site of broken windows that had apparently been smashed by bricks thrown through them.
Facebook rumors indicated that during two separate incidents, at least one individual made anti-Semitic remarks and threatened to launch a new “Kristalnacht” – a reference to the “night of broken glass” pogrom that occurred in Germany in 1938. One altercation occurred at the local kosher Dunkin Donuts where an individual allegedly threatened to return and attack “the Jews and their disgusting friends.” According to an eyewitness, the individual was escorted from the premises during his rant.
Another incident occurred during a regularly scheduled Highland Park Town Hall meeting where an individual allegedly made “virulently anti-Semitic remarks.” Highland Park recently elected an Orthodox Jewish man as its mayor. It is unclear at this time whether or not these incidents are related or if they are connected to last night’s vandalism. Nor is it clear if all the attacks were perpetrated by the same individual.
The scene in downtown Highland Park was one of disbelief as several local residents stopped in front of the targeted stores to take photographs of the incident. Locals business owners attempted to continue conducting business.
Speculation and concern over who was behind the incidents was pronounced as both the anniversary of the 1947 Partition Plan – observed by some as the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” – occurred yesterday, and the anniversary of the original Kristalnacht was commemorated earlier in the month.
In another act of apparent anti-Semitic vandalism, the local Rutgers Hillel had a brick thrown through one of its windows over the weekend raising concern among students as anti-Israel and potentially anti-Semitic behavior on the Rutgers campus has recently been widespread.
At this time local law enforcement have been notified and are actively responding to these incidents. At the time of this post, details were still filtering in from local residents and no official statements have been made.
UPDATE: Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan has said that a 52 year old man named Richard Green was arrested in New Brunswick at 3pm, and charged with five counts of criminal mischief, for smashing the windows at the Highland Park stores.
Liran Kapoano is the East Coast Director for Jerusalem Online University, www.jerusalemonlineu.com.