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Effy's Cafe on Upper West Side vandalized with graffiti alleging support of genocide in Gaza

Israeli restaurant vandalized with graffiti alleging support for genocide
Israeli restaurant vandalized with graffiti alleging support for genocide 02:09

NEW YORK -- Effy's Cafe, an Israeli restaurant on the Upper West Side, was filled with longtime customers, politicians and community leaders in a show of solidarity Monday after it was targeted by vandals. 

According to police, vandals spray painted two messages in green on the sidewalk outside the luncheonette on West 96th Street near Columbus Avenue on Saturday.

They said "Free Gaza" and "Form line here to support genocide." 

The restaurant has been a staple in the neighborhood for more than a decade. There wasn't an empty table, and some customers held the Israeli flag in support. 

"Devastated for the restaurant, devastated for our community, for our people," said Brianna Zackai. 

Manager Ben Zara was shocked when she got to work Sunday morning and also saw the front of the restaurant covered with red paint. 

"I am scared. It was my first time seeing a vandalism attack like that. It has never happened to me," said Zara. 

"We have to fight antisemitism as we do all forms of bigotry. It will not be tolerated in New York. It should not be tolerated anywhere," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Nadler and community members of all faiths packed Effy's and said they will not give in to hate. 

"We will never give in to fear. We will continue to walk our streets as proud Jews, as New York Jews," said Hindy Poupko, of UJA Federation of NY. 

"An attack on a Jewish business is an attack on all businesses in New York. If we allow it here, we allow it everywhere else," said Sheikh Musa Drammeh, of Masjid Al-Iman Mosque. 

The disheartened community vowed to stand together in unity. 

"We have been getting overrun with support since 7 a.m. this morning. It's nonstop and they said it's going to be like this for the whole week, and I'm so glad. I'm grateful," said Zara. 

Police said they are not investigating the vandalism as a hate crime, but as illegal graffiti. NYPD said the messages are considered political statements, which do not fall under hate crimes. 

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