Masked thugs stamp on man in 'revenge'

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009
A Starbucks store after its windows were smashed by protestors

A Starbucks store after its windows were smashed by protestors

Two masked thugs beat up a Jewish man in north-west London on Saturday night in what they said was revenge for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Michael Bookatz was going home after eating with a friend in Golders Green when he was attacked as he walked along Sinclair Avenue.

Mr Bookatz, a 31-year-old computer software developer, said: “I saw a man walking towards me. Suddenly he broke into a run and punched me in the face.

“He punched me to the ground. Then a second man joined in and they kicked and stamped on me. One of them said: ‘This is because of what has happened to the Palestinians in Gaza’ as he kicked me in the head.”

Mr Bookatz managed to shout for help and when someone appeared at a window of a house nearby, his attackers ran off. He called the police on his mobile phone. He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead by the Orthodox ambulance service Hatzolah.

“They were cowards because they had scarves around their faces so I couldn’t even see what nationality they were,” he said. “It was a very frightening experience and it has left me shaken up. But I decided to speak out about it to warn other people to be on their guard.”

The number of antisemitic incidents since the beginning of the Gaza operation had risen to approximately 225 by Tuesday evening, according to the Community Security Trust. Mr Bookatz’s assault was one of 11 incidents involving physical violence; 13 synagogues have been daubed and 20 Jewish buildings other than synagogues have been daubed. More than half the total have been incidents of abuse, both verbal and by email or post.

Two more branches of coffee shop Starbucks, one in Piccadilly and another in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End, were attacked at the weekend, with windows being smashed. Demonstrators are thought to have targeted the chain because its chief executive is Jewish.

A Starbucks spokesperson said after the latest attacks: “It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks’ stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents and have also led to violent situations involving our stores, employees and customers.”

Last updated: 3:44pm, July 22 2009