LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A tourist from New York was knocked to the ground along the Las Vegas Strip in broad daylight, Monday.
Paul Lebowitz said he was clearly targeted for being Jewish.
Lebowitz said what started as a calm conversation at a coffee shop with a stranger, turned to a nasty gash on the back of his head.
"We talked about Israel-Palestine until he said, ‘the Jews are not going to exist’ and I said, ‘I'm a proud Jew.’ That’s when it got violent," Lebowitz said.
The 67-year-old Lebowitz wore his Star of David necklace as the pair walked outside Eataly restaurant at Park MGM. The conversation escalated as they went along and then turned violent.
"He yells out, ‘baby killers!’ Puts his hand to my face and throws me to the ground. I fell back. I smacked my head," Lebowitz recalled.
Lebowitz said he never laid a hand on the man, who towered over him. His family called 911, but by the time police arrived the man who had pushed him to the ground had disappeared.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report is filed as battery, and police told Lebowitz surveillance footage will be used in the investigation.
"He's anti-Jewish. It’s a hate crime to me," Lebowitz said.
The past several weeks has brought a spike of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the country. During the weeks of conflict in Israel and Gaza the Anti-Defamation League gathered 222 reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism or violence. The previous two weeks there were 127.
"It may have been an isolated incident here in Las Vegas, but it’s happening in New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Boston,” Lebowitz said. “It has to stop.”
FOX5 has reached out to LVMPD for more details on their investigation.
Lebowitz said this violent encounter won't scare him from visiting Las Vegas, but said it shows him these incidents are happening all over the country.