Brooklyn man, extradited from Israel, arraigned in ’08 beating death

NEW YORK (JTA) — A former Hasidic community watch group member in Brooklyn was arraigned in New York in a 2008 beating death after being extradited from Israel.

Yitzchak Schuchat, 31, was arraigned Friday in state Supreme Court in the death of Andrew Charles, according to New York 1. U.S. marshals returned him to New York last week.

Schuchat is facing charges of second- and third-degree assault as a hate crime; Charles was black.

An Israeli court decided to extradite Schuchat in 2011, but he remained in Israel pending appeal.

Schuchat, a member of the Shmira community watch group at the time of the assault, is being held on $300,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 18.

Opinion: Jerusalem bullies need a dose of respect

Jerusalem’s Zion Square, located in the city center, where rallies mobilize, concerts convene, street fairs assemble and pedestrians abound, caught the attention of local media and became the topic of weekend table talk when it was learned that on Aug. 16, 17-year-old Jamal Julani, an Israeli Arab from east Jerusalem who went to meet a friend who was working at a local restaurant nearby, nearly died from a savage beating unleashed by a gang of Jewish “tough teens,” who were out cruising the streets, apparently looking for a victim. The first responders from the United Hatzalah emergency response organization who answered the call, told us that Jamal wasn’t breathing when they arrived. It would be 24 hours before he would regain consciousness, but even then he couldn’t remember what had happened the night before. 

I visited Jamal in Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem 36 hours after the brutal attack. Upon entering his room in the familiar facility, I was met with thoughts of so many Israeli victims of bus bombings we visited there during the height of the intifada. But this time it was different.

Jamal couldn’t remember the 50 or so youth who either partook in the beating or stood idly by doing absolutely nothing to intervene. His father, Subha, stood over him saying that his memory of the day was gone. His wife, Nariman, was grateful that Jamal was alive at all and soon to be released thanks to the Israeli medics who reached the scene on time.

The underlying question, though, was what motivated these gang-like hoodlums —colloquially, arsim — to attack an innocent youth?

Reaction on the street went from, “How awful!”; “What do you expect from kids on drugs and booze?”; “Why can’t Arabs walk the streets of Jerusalem without fear?”; and “Why didn’t anyone do anything to help?” to “Where are the parents?”; “Where were the police?”; and “Where is the mayor?”

It’s not difficult to reason that when youth set out to stir up violence and chant “Death to Arabs,” no good can come of it.       

If the five Israeli teens — Jewish kids from 13 to 19 years old — who were indicted Aug. 28 in Jerusalem District Court, turn out to be the ones responsible for the incident, it is only the quick response and skill of the medics that stand between them and manslaughter or even murder charges.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the Media Line that this wasn’t the first incident of its kind and said he couldn’t point to other incidents in reverse, cases of Arabs beating up on Jews.

In 2009, I wrote an Op-Ed that was printed on the same day in both The Jerusalem Post and Al-Quds about the Acre riots signaling a tipping point exacerbating the need to redefine the Jewish versus Arab rift. The trigger point then was rioting that followed an errant trip through a Jewish neighborhood by an Arab driver on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when even many secular Jewish Israelis avoid riding in cars.

Seeking solutions, I turned to legendary folksinger and humanitarian Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, and Charlotte Frank of McGraw-Hill publishers, who together fashioned an educational foundation that teaches students not to bully those not like themselves out of the song “Don’t Laugh at Me.” Yarrow’s Operation Respect curriculum is now taught in more than 22,000 schools in America alone, and in many other educational systems throughout the world.

After the piece ran, the American embassy in Tel Aviv contacted me to learn more about the program and to connect with Yarrow. As a result, the “Don’t Laugh at Me” curriculum is being taught in 30 Israeli schools — Jewish and Muslim — and will be introduced in schools in Jerusalem and Bethlehem this year as the total number of schools in Israel and the Palestinian Authority reaches 50.

Resolving differences between Jewish and Arab Israelis begins with youth education in schools and at home. At the heart of the Aug. 16 near-fatal tragedy is not so much nationalistic fervor as it is simple bullying — the pack mentality of brutality in numbers not to preach politics, but to experience the perverse rush of hurting someone. It’s not a stretch to project Operation Respect as an antidote for the disease underlying the attack on Jamal Julani.

Nor is it a stretch to believe that a schoolchild exposed to programs such as Operation Respect from early grades will not be cruising Zion Square — or Acre or Jenin — with a bloodlust 10 years hence.

I asked Subha whether this horrific incident changed his feelings toward Israelis. He said he works with an Israeli, many of his friends are Israeli, and he has Israeli citizenship because his wife is from Jerusalem.

It might not be a bad thing that Jamal doesn’t recall the attack. But he said he won’t be walking Yaffa Road alone any time soon.

Felice Friedson is president and CEO of The Media Line news agency; founder of The Mideast Press Club; and Women in Mideast Media. She can be reached at

Judge won’t drop charges against Baltimore brothers

A Baltimore judge will not drop the charges against two Jewish brothers accused of beating a black teenager.

Judge Pamela White on Tuesday denied the motion to drop the charges against Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim, according to The Associated Press.

The brothers have pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon in the alleged beating of Corey Ausby in November 2010. They face up to 13 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.

At the time of the incident, Eliyahu, now 24, was a member of the Jewish neighborhood watch group Shomrim. Avi is now 21.

On April 26, White also denied a separate motion filed on behalf of Ausby to drop the charges.

“It was not your decision whether to bring charges against the defendants, it’s the state’s decision,” she told the teen, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun reported that Ausby said on the stand, “I been wanting to drop the charges all the time, I didn’t even want to go through [this].”

Judge rejects Shomrim accuser’s request to have charges dropped

A Baltimore judge denied an alleged victim’s request to drop criminal charges against two Baltimore Jewish brothers accused of beating the black teen.

“I been wanting to drop the charges all the time, I didn’t even want to go through [this],” Corey Ausby said on the stand Wednesday, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I feel like I was being pressured.”

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Pamela White rejected his plea.

“It was not your decision whether to bring charges against the defendants, it’s the state’s decision,” she said.

Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim, who are accused of beating Ausby in November 2010, have pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon They face up to 13 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.

At the time of the beating, Eliyahu Werdesheim, now 24, was a member of Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group. According to a police account, Eliyahu Werdesheim told the black teen, “You don’t belong around here,” while his brother, now 21, threw the boy to the ground, the Baltimore Sun reported.

When the prosecutor asked Ausby if he had lied about the beating, he replied, “No,” and then said he “shouldn’t have called the police.”

Ausby’s mother has filed a civil suit on his behalf against the Werdesheims and other members of Shomrim, the Sun reported.

Community panel on the L.A. Riots

On April 29, 1992, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American man, triggered riots in Los Angeles that resulted in more than 50 dead, thousands injured and some $1 billion in property damage.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots, The Jewish Journal invited to our offices nine prominent L.A.-based civil rights activists. We asked them to reflect as a group on two questions: Are we better off than we were 20 years ago? Could what happened in 1992 happen again here?

The result was an often-heated 90-minute conversation that vividly demonstrated the passions that the riots and the issues they raised still evoke in this city.

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” title=”The Wide Angle” target=”_blank”>The Wide Angle blog with Joe R. Hicks for