Anti-Semitism in black community

Anti-Semitism in black community

The “elephant in the room” which is infrequently touched upon is the anti-Semitic actions and comments by black leaders and then, not surprisingly, by some residents in New York and New Jersey (“Montclair civic leader apologizes for anti-Semitic comments,” Jan. 9, and “ADL, NAACP announce new partnership,” Jan. 16).

James Harris’ comments were not the first anti-Semitic ones made in New Jersey in 2019 by a representative of the NAACP. As NJJN reported, in August a former head of the Passaic NAACP who was working for the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development was fired for posting Facebook messages critical of Jews and Latinos.

Sadly, we also witness these anti-Semitic acts from elected officials. For example, two town council representatives were forced to apologize for making what was viewed as anti-Semitic comments. Recently, a member of the Jersey City Board of Education made anti-Semitic comments while the city was dealing with the tragic killings of a detective and residents in a kosher grocery store.

Add to this list the actions of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Dist. 12), who joined 16 other U.S. representatives, including Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), in voting against an anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions resolution in the House that overwhelmingly passed. Watson Coleman’s reason was that boycotts were a valuable tool in the civil rights battle. Too bad none of the civil rights icons in the House thought that way. It might be of interest to note that boycotts were among Hitler’s early actions against the Jews.

I’ve seen interviews with some residents in Brooklyn neighborhoods where Jews have been attacked allegedly by members of the black community. The interviews repeat the same inflammatory rhetoric of those noted above. 

None of this is to excuse the anti-Semitic actions of the far right, which are under the microscope of the federal and state authorities. But, what are we doing to confront the problems raised by the actions noted above; that is the “elephant in the room.”

The partnership between the ADL and the NAACP is a start, but it must reach down into the grassroots of our local communities.

Ken Berkowitz

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