Anti-Semitic Activist is Jewish, Lawyer Says

Hate Crimes

Residents of Brooklyn Heights were shocked last September when swastikas appeared throughout the neighborhood, along with fliers proclaiming "Kill all Jews." What's perhaps even more shocking is that the man who's confessed to the vandalism is, according to his lawyer, Jewish.

Ivaylo Ivanov faces multiple charges in connection with a rash of anti-Semitic graffiti in Brooklyn Heights and an arsenal of weapons he allegedly hid in his apartment. They include hate crime charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment.

Police say Ivanov spray-painted swastikas on cars, sidewalks and buildings, including two synagogues, and left the anti-Semitic leaflets on cars.

Though they suspected him from the beginning, police at first came up empty in their search for evidence that would definitively link him to crimes. Ivanov himself helped them solve the case in January when he told officers that someone had shot him in the finger. Police — who later concluded that Ivanov had accidentally shot himself —searched his apartment in the affluent Remsen Street area. They found a handgun, a hunting rifle, a sawed-off shotgun, ammunition and eight pipe bombs.

Ivanov, 37 and from Bulgaria, pleaded not guilty to the charges at his Jan. 21 arraignment. Afterward, his court-appointed attorney, Adrian Lesher, would not answer reporters' questions but said, "I can tell you he's Jewish."

Besides this revelation, little is known about Ivanov. The New York Post reported that he'd once worked as a paid informant for the New York Police Department, helping nab a businessman who bought stolen cell phones from him. Prosecutors dropped the charges in March after discovering Ivanov was an informant.

A preliminary hearing in Ivanov's case was set for April 24. No trial date had been scheduled at press time.

Even if Ivanov did carry out the attacks and his lawyer is correct about his Jewish roots, it would not be the first time such a situation came to light. In 2001, an avowed "Aryan" revolutionary named Leo Felton was convicted of conspiracy in a plot to blow up black and Jewish landmarks; two months later, it was revealed that one of Felton's parents was black. William Potter Gale, the man who founded the anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus in the 1970s, was secretly descended from a long line of devout Jews. And in 1965, The New York Times revealed that neo-Nazi Daniel Burros had been a Jewish yeshiva student. He killed himself the same day.