}

Angry Reflections on the JBA

(UPDATE: Since I wrote this article, the NY Daily News has since deleted the entire thread of comments. This, I am sad to report, may be the only excerpt of comments from said thread extant online.)

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) inaugurated the “Blacks & Jews Together” alliance on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported, timing the laudable organization’s launch two weeks before Martin Luther King Day.

Alternatively called the Jewish-Black Alliance (JBA), the organization was formed to present a united front representing both the Jewish and Black non-Jewish communities “against the hatred expressed by swastikas and nooses”. Hikind rounded up over twenty politicians to support him in this “public show of solidarity” between the two communities, which will involve the JBA setting up community forums and lessons on tolerance.

What’s making me absolutely livid and furious is the reactions that I’m seeing from “Jewish” screen names on the NY Daily News’ site. The Daily News, not known for a liberal slant by any means, has on its story a comments thread which would look like a page out of the National Socialist Movement‘s forums were most of its worst vitriol not purported to be on behalf of Jews:

“Why would Jews ever want to “unite” with blacks? Blacks hate Jews, and they have a long history of violence against them. Anybody remember the Crown Heights Riots of 1991 which resulted in the death of Yankel Rosenbaum?”

“[A]sk them if they want their women marrying a Kalif known as homeboys? Or would they eat at the table on the Blacks term? They are trying to paint a picture to the dogs that they are ok with us….Jews are attacked in Brooklyn all the time, lest we forget the Rabbi attending morning prayers when we was accousted by a “get real” slogan yelling low life.”

“I am a decendant of Israelites who have slain the populance of Canaan, men, women and children. I do not take the coward way out from my enemies. kowtowing to Kalifs and begging for their acceptance.”

I refuse to accept the validity of any apologetics for this.

Even if we will say, granted, that there is anti-Semitism in the non-Jewish Black community — a secret to no one — NYDailyNews.com indexes at 214 (on a normal=100 index) for African-American users and 243 for Hispanic users according to Nielsen. There were many non-Jewish minority eyes who read that story. Ostensibly, some of these readers were anti-Semitic. (And if they weren’t, how do they feel now? Are they calling up their Jewish friends asking, “Rachel, do you really feel this way?”)

But who was it that was so moved by Dov Hikind’s audacity to dare try to protect Jewish lives and livelihoods, to try to build bridges with a like-minded oppressed community to benefit all involved? Those speaking “for Jews”.

While the user MartyBerkowitz (inter alia) does a good job of relegating the racists to their mentally challenged sidelines, I find the dearth of pro-unity voices from Jewish screen names extremely disturbing. These things can not be allowed to represent the Jewish community in any forum. They can not be pooh-poohed or explained away with claims of collective post-traumatic stress.

It should never be Jews being the ones clamoring for racism and division in public. Especially when the danger is shared by two communities who are both targets of the same people. Does the user “Sabbetai Tzvi” really think that the imbecile with the noose won’t blow his door up with swastikas immediately after? Does he not think his KKK-podcast can be interrupted by the brick of a Nazi hitting his monitor? As State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) said, “I am proud to stand in the tradition of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr. whose partnership forever cemented the bond between Jews and African Americans against racial injustice”, pointing out that Dr. King said, “the segregationists and the racists make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew.”

No, somehow, some Jews consider themselves so aligned with their former oppressors that they will pick up the same rhetoric the Jewish community fought (and still fights) so valiantly against. I’m not naive — I realize that some racists are Jewish, and this shows still have so much work to do inside the Jewish community on this issue — but when any Jew’s reaction to such a potentially wonderful coalition is “[w]e are tired of them leeching and influencing our beautiful youth with their filthy rap music” I want to lament on Biblical proportions. And if the issues really are assimilation, intermarriage and non-Jewish influences — then one should refrain from using the phrase “jungle bunny lowlife”.

There is simply no justification for this type of racist rhetoric — or this type of racism — being tolerated in the Jewish community. It is my sincere hope that the Jewish community is rid once and for all of anything impeding our path to tikkun and improvement. I can only hope that these people’s fury stays confined to the world of internet tough guys, message boards, and forums — and that Dov Hikind won’t be deterred from his wonderful actions because he can’t stop getting flak in shul.

Y-Love

A modern charedi Jew-by-choice since 2000, and igniting headphones with Torah hiphop since 2001.

Originally from Maryland and now holding it down in the shtetlach of New York, won the Jewish Music Awards for "Best Hiphop" in 2006.Vocally anti-prejudice and pro-unity.

Love me, hate me, or debate me, know you can't ignore me, though.

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