By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden condemned violence against Jewish communities in the United States and abroad on Monday after a string of attacks amid the conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Physical or verbal assaults were reported against Jews in New York City, Los Angeles and South Florida during the 11 days of fighting in the region.
"The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad — it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor," Biden wrote in a Twitter post.
Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United States, tweeted his thanks in response and said he hoped the assailants were swiftly brought to justice and hate crimes deterred.
"The demonization of Israel is clearly sparking this rise in antisemitism. It must be stopped," Erdan wrote.
Five major Jewish groups urged Biden on Friday to call out antisemitism and recommended specific actions, including fighting hate on college campuses and enhanced security for religious institutions.
In a letter, the groups said there have been numerous antisemitic incidents around the world and in the United States, including on social media, since the Gaza conflict began.
"The perpetrators of these attacks deliberately targeted Jewish institutions and individuals for no other reason than their religion, justifying it with age-old antisemitic tropes, exaggerated claims, and inflammatory rhetoric," the letter said.
The letter was signed by the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, Jewish Federations of North America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Joseph Borgen, 29, said he was attacked in New York's Times Square on Thursday night by a group of people who shouted antisemitic slurs at him. A video of the attack on Borgen, who wore a Jewish skullcap, was broadcast repeatedly on cable news television at the weekend.
"As long as more and more awareness can be brought to this issue, hopefully, some positive change can be made," he told CNN on Monday.
A man was arrested and several others were being sought in connection with the attack.
An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held into a fourth day on Monday. Medical officials said 248 people were killed in Gaza during the 11 days of fighting.
Medics said rocket fire and a guided missile attack killed 13 people in Israel. [L2N2N904P]
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Ed Osmond and Howard Goller)