The brutal attack on four Jewish youths in Manchester on Saturday may have been connected to drugs, rather than anti-Semitism, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.
Moshe Fuerst, 17, was beaten unconscious by three men at Bowker Vale Metrolink tram station at around 11:30 p.m. His three friends, aged 18, 18 and 20, were also injured in the attack.
While police have confirmed they are treating the case as an anti-Semitic hate crime, the Jewish Chronicle reported the assault may have been triggered by a fight over marijuana.
“This was not an anti-Semitic attack,” a family friend of Fuerst was quoted as saying. “They might have said something about him being Jewish – but it all started because of drugs. He smokes a lot of weed.”
Fuerst's father, Rabbi Michael Fuerst, also admitted to the Jewish Chronicle that he would not be surprised if the attack was drug-related.
“He is on the fringes of society and that is what kids on the fringe do," Fuerst said. "He was not involved in hard drugs – he’s not any different to any other middle classes.”
“Drugs are a problem in the haredi community," he added. "I would say that the most amazing thing is that thousands of people are praying refua shlema [healing prayers] for my son."
The investigation into the attack, meanwhile, is ongoing, a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.