David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

The Left Is NOT Exempt from Hate

A black woman CAN be a racist.
An elderly man can be ageist.
A gay person can act in a homophobic manner.
A Jewish person can be antisemitic.

Our connection or allegiance to one group does not create a forcefield against claims that might sting or go against the grain of our identity.

This subject has risen to the surface, again, as our very own Congressman, Josh Gottheimer was the victim of an antisemitic slur. While promoting an infrastructure agenda bill with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this past September, a bystander yelled out “Jew” at the Congressman. This verbal attack was heard by a few people, including the Commerce Secretary. The Secret Service, protecting the Secretary expressed concern for Congressman Gottheimer’s safety after hearing this comment.

Sadly, being targeted with hate is nothing new for Jewish people. However, this case has a strange twist. The crowd of people that were jeering Gotthemier were from the Working Families Party of New Jersey, a left leaning group that had expressed upset with the Democratic Congressman for some legislative decisions he has made. The verbal attack of “Jew” came from within that crowd of people.

This group has denied uttering the slur, has taken no responsibility for the verbal attack and hides behind a fake wall of protection that says in an unspoken manner that if they are left leaning and liberal, they inherently cannot hate. That is not true.

The Working Families Party have gone through great lengths to deny the allegations and claim innocence instead of seeking forgiveness from the victim, which could have put this situation to bed.

Hate happens across races, genders, orientations, and even political party. We have seen it in from the Big House to the State House and even the White House, regardless of the team or occupants of those places.

A political orientation does not absolve one from doing wrong. Left leaning or liberal does not make you impervious to accusations of hate or offense. The Working Families Party naively thinks by caring about the downtrodden and the less fortunate and those who are victims in life, that inherently they or any member affiliated with them, could not do something hateful. That is the same thinking of some left leaning congresspeople that make insinuations about money, Israel, and influence but claim protection from wrongdoing since they are self-proclaimed advocates of the sufferers.

Further to this point, we live in a culture that finds guilty before a trial occurs and punishes before explanations can be offered. A person is accused of wrongful behavior, and they are cancelled. No investigations. No litigation. Their income and celebrity are no more. Yet, when a reputable and respected Congressman claims an antisemitic slur was cast upon him, he is not believed, and his remarks are called untruthful.

The hypocrisy is thick. That is either because antisemitism is held to a different standard than any other accusation OR because some people believe that if they are part of a particular political stripe, they are exempt from wrongdoing and accusation.

Congressman Gottheimer is the victim of an anti-Semitic slur. The Working Families Party should unequivocally condemn the action of whoever chanted this and distance themselves from anyone who espouses any form of hate. This will allow the WFP and Congressman Gottheimer to move forward with their important work of shaping the world our children will soon inherit.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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