For over two decades, Bagels & Co., at the intersection of Union Turnpike and 188th Street, has been a staple eatery providing high quality kosher food for the growing Jewish community of Fresh Meadows and its nearby neighborhoods. Its clientele includes many organizations, corporations, and the hundreds of families and individuals who patronize the store each day. Under the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, the store follows the stringencies of pas Yisrael, kemach yashan, and chalav Yisrael.
“For as long as I can remember, Bagels & Co. has proudly displayed its allegiance with Eretz Yisrael by affixing a number of Israel flags atop its corner property,” said Rena Goldstein, a local resident and regular patron of the bagel shop.
On Wednesday, November 10, at approximately 3:40 in the afternoon, one young man found the presence of these Israeli flags, a fixture of this intersection, to be a nuisance. The corner has long enjoyed the alternating American and Israeli flags at the heavily used crossroad just blocks from the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates.
The threatening individual, a teenager who claims to be of Palestinian lineage, clad with a beige sweatshirt and black cap flipped backwards, entered the bagel shop through its rear entrance with his cell phone recording his movements and demanded that the Israeli flags be removed. He went on to suggest to a 26-year-old employee and the nearby customers that he would incinerate the store if the flags remained waving.
“Remove those Israeli flags and shut the business down or I’ll burn the building down,” were the exact words the offender uttered while insisting on speaking with the boss. When the employee explained that his boss was asleep, the suspect made a demand for the female boss to be awakened. The man then continued to threaten that he would destroy the store’s window if his demands were not met.
“He filmed the whole thing,” explained one patron shortly after the incident. “We are blessed that nobody was hurt in this ugly encounter.” Video surveillance confirms these actions, as well as his engaging with other clientele. Customers soon voiced their astonishment at the terror threat, prompting a second employee to run out after the suspect. The man left without further incident.
Council Member James F. Gennaro denounced the anti-Semitic threat in a statement. “Our office has been aware of the threat of anti-Semitic violence that took place at a bagel store in Fresh Meadows on Wednesday. Since the incident last week, I have been closely monitoring the NYPD’s response and supporting the good efforts of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force and the response of the 107th Precinct. I will continue to work with the 107th Precinct to ensure that the perpetrator is apprehended and justice is served.” The statement corroborates reports of the Hate Crime Task Force’s involvement. “Threats of anti-Semitic violence have no place in our community, and they never will. And while I have good reason to believe that an arrest is imminent, I continue to implore anyone who has any information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS,” concluded Gennaro.
Assemblyman David Weprin is a regular patron of the establishment, and he is also monitoring the situation as it unfolds. Deputy Inspector Kevin Chan, commanding officer of the 107, is handling this case with extreme care. The incident was initially reported by Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism. Hikind’s social media coverage of the altercation has garnered over 18,500 views.
A $3500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the individual in question.
NYPD Crime Stoppers is offering a $3500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual in question. Call 1-800-577-TIPS.