We Must Condemn All Hate, Including Anti-Semitism

Shambala: After all these years, you really had me fooled. I had no idea your sort of liberalism only came out of the closet when it was fashionable.

Stone: Shambala, just once I want someone to stand up in this country and say ‘I did it. I’m responsible for my actions. Not my television set and not the color of my skin…’ And if it makes you feel good to call me a racist, fine. But if you’re really looking for who’s responsible for racism these days… Take a good look in the mirror.  —”Sanctuary” episode of Law & Order, plot reminiscent of Crown Heights riots

“AIPAC” — Rep Ilhan Omar’s tweet clarifying her earlier tweet, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” alleging this is the only reason there is a request to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to condemn her and Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Semitic remarks.  – Sunday, 2/10 Ilhan Omar’s Twitter page

Seventeen years ago this month, on February 1, 2002, Daniel Pearl was beheaded by Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan. His final words were, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish. Back in the town of Bnei Brak, there is a street named after my great-grandfather Chaim Pearl, who is one of the founders of the town.”

It is 11 years since New York City’s Mayor Ed Koch died, like Daniel Pearl on February 1. Koch had the first part of Pearl’s words engraved on his tombstone. He was a proud Jew, so it is no surprise that he made these words his epitaph. It was Koch who broke party lines and supported Rudy Giuliani in his second run for mayor in the Dinkins/Giuliani rematch, due to Dinkins’ anemic response in quelling the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Koch considered those riots to be the first pogrom in NYC history, culminating in the deliberate murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, whose only so-called crime was walking while being Jewish in Crown Heights.

It is tragic that virulent anti-Semitic incidents have surfaced again in Crown Heights in the last year, this time under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive administration. Ironically, de Blasio was a top aide to Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch in 1991, Mayor Dinkins’ point man during the riots.

On June 14, 2001, New York’s former senior senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was the keynote speaker at a CAMERA dinner in NYC. Moynihan came to the podium looking more like a professor than a politician, carrying a fat book in hand. He explained that the book was about tribalism. Americans were not created in that framework, he said, as were most other nations, but that there was a real storm forming and this sickness could take root in the United States. At the time, terror engulfed Israel. The Sbarro massacre would take place in Jerusalem less than two months later, followed by the homicidal attacks on our own soil on 9/11, by terrorists who chose radical Islam over humanity.

Unfortunately, Moynihan’s words not only were prescient but were prologue to our current reality.

Tribalism has become a real issue in our lives, with cash-infused strategic forces working hard to divide us, whether by ethnicity, race, sex, sexual orientation, or personal beliefs. Until the last presidential election, you could detest the president but want him to succeed because the country succeeding was most important. Not anymore. This now makes you toxic to countless groups.

Unlike most other countries, the United States is committed to habeas corpus and due process for anyone accused of a crime, but currently that seems to have been lost in a rush to judgment by the politicians and the press. Were there incidents like this in the past? Tragically, yes. But they were the exception, though horrific for all involved. But now this seems like an almost daily occurrence, and coming from some surprising sources. One of the most disturbing social media messages posted at the beginning of the Covington Catholic boys incident at the Lincoln Memorial, was posted by a respected Holocaust scholar and included this line, “I’ve seen that smirk before…. Berlin (1933) Vienna (1938), Frankfurt (1938), Poland (1939)…. and Little Rock (1957), Greensboro (1960) and far too many other places.” After other video evidence showed these high schoolers had been verbally attacked while waiting for their bus, followed by revelations of the Native American man’s background making his actions and story questionable, the scholar was asked if they had reconsidered their post as many others had. Still no response, but the post still stands. Wasn’t one of the key lessons of the Holocaust not to make assumptions about groups of people? Even if you hate Trump supporters, MAGA hats, and pro-life supporters, are they not human beings with individual rights and feelings? Think of those college kids who are targeted for being pro-Israel or having a Jewish name on hostile SJP campuses, or those who support the American military on hostile campuses. The demonization is real, and truly the oft-mentioned slippery slope to disaster. Yes, Moynihan should be heeded.

Congress is proving to be a place where there are sides even in deciding which kind of hate to protest formally. On January 14, House Resolution 41, titled Rejecting White Nationalism and White Supremacy, was introduced by Senator James Clyburn and co-sponsored by 4 other Democrats. It referenced Representative Steve King in the resolution, because of his remarks to a NY Times reporter earlier in the month. It passed the following day with a vote of 424 to 1, obviously not needing any additional co-sponsor. Virtually everyone was on board but for one Democratic member who felt that the resolution didn’t go far enough. As it states at the end of the resolution, “Whereas Public Law 115-58, a joint resolution signed into law on September 14, 2017, rejects ‘white nationalism, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups’; now, may it be resolved, that the House of Representatives once again rejects White nationalism and White supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

Agreed, but shouldn’t this resolution have also included Black supremacy, specifically Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam? Why wasn’t that included in this legislation?

Have we forgotten the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? In a speech Dr. King gave at DePauw University in 1960, cited by columnist Coleman Hughes, he said, “Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and God is not interested merely in the freedom of Black men. God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and the creation of a society where all men can live together as brothers.”

On January 16, Rep. Ron Wright introduced House Resolution 47, titled Condemning All Forms of Anti-Semitism. According to the summary on Congress.gov, “the resolution condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and calls on federal law enforcement officials, working with state and local officials, to expeditiously investigate all credible reports of hate crimes, incidents, and threats against the Jewish community. This resolution also condemns all expressions of racism and ethnic or religious intolerance.” The bill was co-sponsored by 10 Republicans, and Speaker Pelosi has yet to bring it to the floor.

On January 23, House Resolution 72, titled Rejecting Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Hatred in the US and Around the World, was introduced by Rep Lee Zeldin. The end of the resolution states, “Resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the House of Representatives rejects anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world.” This resolution is still waiting to be brought to the floor by Speaker Pelosi and of the 42 co-sponsors, none are Democrats.

Both HR 47 and HR 72 are in response to the alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and around the world, including the slaughter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. So what’s the problem in bringing them to the floor to discuss and vote on as you did with HR 41, Speaker Pelosi?

But then actions do speak louder than words. Though Sunday night’s infamous “AIPAC” tweet by Omar has finally gotten official condemnation from House Democratic leadership, in contrast to the silence regarding her prior remarks, Omar will still remain on the coveted Foreign Affairs committee, which gives her a powerful platform for her views on Israel. With her pro-BDS, anti-Israel stance and her numerous anti-Semitic comments, shouldn’t she be replaced? And there is still no official condemnation of Tlaib by the leadership.

Why has no other Democratic representative signed on to either resolution after voting in unison with their fellow republicans to accept Resolution 41? Where are our New Jersey representatives, all Democrats but for one — not one has signed on to either as of the writing of this column. Are there now different types of hatred? Have we balkanized this, too?

And still no calls for condemnation of the Congressional Black Caucus’ relationship with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam by the Democratic party, even after recent reports that hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds have been paid to the Nation of Islam for its work in prison beginning in fiscal year 2008 through the current fiscal year of 2019, ostensibly to teach religious studies. The amount reportedly has dropped to less than $10,000 in 2019 but why is one penny approved by Congress? Why the silence in paying to promote hatred of gays, Jews, whites and others? History shows that silence only feeds intolerance and leads to indoctrination and intimidation of the young and the weak.

At the end of the Law & Order episode, the case ends in a hung jury. DA Schiff does not want to try the case again; he feels that will allow the racial tensions to subside.

Ben Stone, the ADA, says, “What do you want? Peace without justice?”

Schiff: “I’m willing to straddle the fence so the city can heal. Can you understand that?”

Stone: “Yeah, I understand that. And that cure is worse than the disease. And it’s a solution that I just can’t be part of.”

When are we, the people of New Jersey, going to make our elected representatives understand that fighting hate has no pecking order?

About the Author
Martha Cohen is an award winning producer and creative executive. She is a Berrie Fellow and currently sits on the JFNNJ JCRC and StandWithUs East Coast Boards. She chaired the JFNNJ Partnership2Gether when the Young Leadership program was developed and executed; and, continues to be closely involved. Martha and her husband David live in Fort Lee with their son, Harry.
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