An Indian migrant who was mistaken for a Chinese man was brutally assaulted by two Israelis in an apparent racist attack related to the coronavirus outbreak.
The attack, reportedly by Israeli media on Saturday, saw Am-Shalem Singson, who came to Israel from Manipur, India, in 2017, being taunted by two Israeli men who thought he was Chinese, before they violently assaulted the 28-year-old.
The Israeli men, who have not been identified, called him “Chinese” and yelled “Corona! Corona”, a reference to the coronavirus pandemic that began in China’s Hubei province, the Times of Israel reported.
“I told both of the attackers that I was not even Chinese, but rather a Jew from the Bnei Menashe community, not that there is any justification for attacking a Chinese guy or anybody else,” he was reported saying. “But they were totally crazed and kicked me hard while yelling, ‘Corona! Corona!’.”
Singson is now hospitalised at the Poriya hospital in Tiberas. He is said to be suffering from “severe injuries to his chest and lungs.” His condition, however, is stable.
Following the attack, the Racism Crisis Centre of the Israel Religious Action Centre, raised concerns over the rise of racism in Israel. “More than 10,000 people from China and East Asia work in Israel today,” the group said.
“The [coronavirus] panic must not turn them into targets. In some previous epidemics, it was the Jews who were falsely accused of spreading the disease. Let’s learn that humane lesson.”
Shavei Israel, an Israeli-based Jewish organisation that encourages people of Jewish descent to strengthen their connection with Israel and the Jewish people, also expressed concern. The group is “stunned by the vicious and racist attack,” said founder, Michael Freund.
“The Bnei Menashe are our brothers and sisters and anyone who raises a hand against them must be brought to justice. I demand that action be taken, and I call on the police to investigate this incident immediately,” Freund added.
According to the Times of Israel over 4,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community live in Israel, and some 6,500 remain in India awaiting aliya.