Man arrested for hate crimes in attack on homeowner displaying Israeli flag

Nassau County, New York, is home to large Jewish and Israeli populations | Source: Matt Green

After stealing an Israeli flag and pro-Israel sign from a residential property, a man beat the homeowner and began an antisemitic rant, pledging to commit violence against anyone with an Israeli flag.

Key Players

Aleksandr Binyaminov, originally from Russia, is a homeowner in Hewlett, New York. 

In November 2023, Bechir Lehbeib, crossed the U.S. border illegally into Arizona. He told the police he is originally from North Africa, and he likely came to Hewlett by bus. Since arriving in New York, Lehbeib has spent his time in a migrant shelter on Staten Island and a home in Jamaica, Queens.  

Further Details

Hewlett, located in the southwest region of Nassau County known as the “Five Towns,” has a significant population of Jewish and Israeli residents. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 24.3% of Hewlett residents between 2018 and 2022 were born outside the United States.

Around 1 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2024, Binyaminov’s doorbell notified him of a person on his property. Looking outside, Binyaminov saw a stranger walking away from his home with his Israeli American flag and a sign that read “We stand with Israel.” Binyaminov had hung the flag and sign on his home after Oct. 7, 2023, to honor his wife’s relative who was killed in Israel by Hamas terrorists on that day.

Binyaminov hopped onto his child’s bicycle and caught up to Lehbeib, who had made it down the block. When Binyaminov grabbed the flags from him, Lehbieb reportedly said, “I’m from Palestine, you Jews are killing Palestinians.” 

As seen on video, the two men fought back and forth for the flags. When Lehbeib gained possession again, he began stomping on the flags and making an obscene gesture.

Tensions escalated and Lehbeib began beating Binyaminov, who afterward said, “He punched me in the face gave me black and blue put me in a choke hold and he headbutted me, that’s how I got a black eye.”

First Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Smith reported that Binyaminov suffered “contusions, swelling, and substantial pain to his head.”

When he eventually broke free, Binyaminov called 911. Lehbeib fled, before being caught and arrested by the police.

After his arrest, Lehbeib continued an antisemitic rant against Jews, threatening to commit violence against anyone else he saw with an Israeli flag. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman reported in a press conference that Lehbieb was “basically saying, ‘kill all the Jews.’”


Zero tolerance for hate crimes

Lehbeib was charged with three hate crimes: robbery, assault, and criminal mischief. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges. 

A judge ordered Lehbeib to be held in jail on $50,000 bail, and he was forced to surrender his passport.

“A homeowner was beaten and robbed because he was Jewish,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said. She explained that the rate of hate crimes, including anti-Semitic attacks, has risen substantially nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 2,042 reported hate crimes based on religion in 2022, and more than half of them were driven by anti-Jewish bias. (Figures for 2023 are not yet available.)

Donnelly also pointed out there is strong evidence that many antisemitic hate crimes go unreported. According to the American Jewish Committee’s  2020 Survey, “76% of those who were the target of an antisemitic attack or remark did not report it.”

Nassau County officials expressed a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Jewish hate. “Crimes committed because of our religion, the color of our skin, the way we dress or who we love will be prosecuted vigorously,” Donnelly said.