Eun Hee Chang hasn’t shied away from recounting how she was stabbed in a robbery and saved by a Queens pizzeria owner and his father to reporters – and this week, she told the story again, not identifying as a victim but as a survivor of hatred.
“I felt something hit me from the back…So when I touched my back there was blood spilling out of me. In the aftermath I had been stabbed in the back. The pizza owner had been stabbed nine times and his son once,” the 61-year-old said in her native Korean to those in attendance at an event Monday focused on combating hate.
“I really hope nothing like this happens ever again. I just have bad feelings when I enter that situation. I hope this type of thing never happens to anyone.”
The event entitled “A discussion between Jews and Asian Americans on combating hate: know how to respond and understand…why us?” took place at the Free Synagogue of Flushing in Queens. It was hosted by the Queens Jewish Community Council, Stand With Us and the Jewish Community Relations Council featured Chang, among other survivors of hatred towards Asian and Jewish Americans, as well as representatives from the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force. All were also on hand for discussions of community-based solutions to hate crimes, as well as building stronger community relationships.
Hate crimes against the Asian American community have spiked 339% nationwide from 2020 to 2021, while the Jewish community is the most consistently targeted religious group in the U.S. In New York City, there were 131 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021, compared to 28 in 2020 and just one in 2019, according to New York City Police Department statistics. There also were 198 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in New York City in 2021, making the Jewish community the most targeted hate crime victims.
“We’d like to be in a community where we can shop, the kids go to school, and we have housing. But we’re targeted by people because they identify us and it’s very easy to identify us,” said Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council.
Congresswoman Grace Meng also attended the event to offer her support to the Jewish community and speak out against anti-Asian hate.
“We want people to know that Asian Americans are just as American as anyone else. We want people to know Jewish-Americans are just as American as anyone else,” Meng told those at the event.
Nussbaum pledged that based on the success of the gathering, similar events will be held in ethnic communities in Queens and other parts of the city.