|Photo credit: Mark Lennihan source|
on Jews in NYC and Media Double Standards
Need to Change the Way We Talk about Black Anti-Semitism
26, 2019, the day after Christmas, those Americans who emerged from their
holiday celebrations to check world headlines were in for a shock. Police
attacks on Jews in New York. Americans don't think of their largest city, a
world center of finance and the arts, a cosmopolitan capital where one can enjoy
cuisine from any continent at any hour of the day or night, as a place where
Jews are unsafe on the streets. New York is the city of Seinfeld, of Woody
Allen and three-time mayor Michael Bloomberg. Former Mayor David Dinkins
famously called New York a "gorgeous mosaic" of diverse peoples.
in fact, these Christmas-and-Hanukkah-week attacks were part of a trend. As bad
as they were, worse was yet to come. On Saturday, December 28, Rabbi Chaim
Rottenberg and his guests celebrated the closing nights of Hanukkah in Monsey,
a suburb north of Manhattan. An intruder burst into the home and stabbed five
attacks on Jews in New York City typically involve unprovoked punching,
cursing, and hurling of objects ranging from soft
drinks to large
and potentially deadly stones. Victims range from children to the elderly,
and include mothers accompanied by their babies. Attackers sometimes yell
reveal that attackers are frequently black. In one startling
video from November 4, 2018, a group of young African Americans congregate
outside a Brooklyn synagogue, talk among themselves, hurl a pole through the
synagogue window, and then run away. In another attack, a
Jewish man is walking down the sidewalk when what appears to be a black youth
runs up behind him and punches him hard in the head, nearly knocking him over.
In a March, 2019 assault, an
apparently healthy, young man kicks a toddler's stroller being pushed by
the child's mother. Attacks are not always violent. In one videotaped confrontation,
a black woman screamed verbal abuse at a Jewish man on the New York City
December 10, 2019, David
Anderson and Francine Graham killed four people in Jersey City, just across
the Hudson River from Manhattan. Deceased victims include Police Detective
Joseph Seals, Leah Ferencz, owner of a kosher grocery store, Moshe Deutsch, a
rabbinical student and a shopper at that store, and Douglas Rodriguez, a store
employee and immigrant from Ecuador. Shooter David Anderson was an anti-Semite
who had been influenced by the Black Hebrew Israelites, who claim that Jews are
not really Jewish, and that the characters in the Bible were all really black. In
this ideology, contemporary Jews are labeled "imposter Jews" and
"so-called Jews." This idea is not limited to violent extremists. On December 14, Saturday Night Live comic Kenan Thompson referred to
"historically correct black Jesus." Jersey City killer David Anderson used the
word "imposter" to refer to modern-day Jews. Anderson and
Graham's killings were classified as a terrorist incident and a hate crime. The
New Jersey attorney general said that the killers "had a tremendous amount
of firepower. They had a pipe bomb in their van."
the wake of this attack, Jersey City school board member Joan Terrell-Paige
appeared to attempt to justify it. Terrell-Paige
called "jews," as she spelled the word, in lower-case, "brutes,"
and said that people should seek a "message" in the killers' actions.
black anti-Semitism is a problem. It is found among juvenile delinquents, TV
stars, terrorists, and those entrusted with educating the young. Black
anti-Semitism has an articulated ideology. Not all black people who don't like
Jews adhere to this ideology, but it's available to them. Today's Jews are
merely "so-called" Jews, "imposter Jews," "usurper
Jews," "interloper Jews," and "Johnny-come-lately
Jews." In this ideology, the real descendants of the Jews of the Bible are
media often declines to identify the race of those who attack Jews. On December
27, 2019, media
reported that an attacker hit a Jewish mother in the head as she walked
with her son in Brooklyn. The attacker, an account reported, was 42 years old
and female. But the account did not identify her race, and no mugshot was
media's hand-wringing around the racial identities of attackers is evident in
an October 31, 2018 New York Times article
with the disconcerting title, "Is
It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?" The "first inkling" of
danger for Jews appeared in 2016, the Times
reported, when the words "Go Trump" appeared in a playground
alongside swastikas. Really? Trump's election was really the "first
inkling" of trouble for Jews in New York City?
fact, New York City hosted a deadly anti-Semitic pogrom in Crown Heights in
1991. According to one
was the most terrifying four days and nights in American Jewish history … with shouts
of 'Kill the Jews' and 'Heil Hitler'; roving mobs in Crown Heights throwing
stones at Jews; police standing passively; gangs breaking into homes with
mezuzahs while Jews hid in closets. One Jew was murdered; others beaten to a
pulp; an Israeli flag was burned."
1995, Al Sharpton fomented deadly hatred during his Freddy's
Fashion Mart protests. One of the
protesters killed eight people, including himself.
2002, Amiri Baraka, aka Everett LeRoi Jones, New Jersey's Poet Laureate,
published a poem blaming Jews for the 2001 terror attacks.
the election of Donald Trump was not the "first inkling" of trouble
for Jews in New York City.
The Times must confess that "During the
past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an
anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group." The
Times gingerly acknowledges "it is the varied backgrounds of people
who commit hate crimes in the city that make combating and talking about
anti-Semitism in New York much harder."
reader comments section is not so careful to use the phrase "varied
backgrounds." The most popular reader comment next to the above-linked Times article blames the "Many
members of minority communities" who have participated in attacks. The
second most popular comment is even more direct. "for left-leaning New
Yorkers, anti-Semitism is an issue worth addressing only when the perpetrators
of anti-Semitism fit their narrative. If a Nazi or white supremacist does it --
take note and take action. If the
perpetrator is less convenient to the Narrative (evil can only emanate from
straight white males), like if the perpetrator is black or Muslim, then they
play it down and ignore it."
Public Radio surprisingly allowed Bari Weiss to speak bluntly in a
September 21, 2019 broadcast. "To judge from the footage of many of
these attacks, at least some of the perpetrators seem to be young black men or
teenagers. And perhaps that's one of the reasons that so many people want to
avert their eyes from what's happening in places like Crown Heights," she
we are seeing here is the economy of truth. If it benefits the speaker to condemn
white anti-Semites, the speaker will do so. If it damages the speaker to
condemn black anti-Semites, the speaker will avoid doing so. This rhetorical
game has nothing to do with respecting or helping black people. It has
everything to do with covering one's own posterior, and hoarding one's own
political correctness points.
book Bieganski devotes a chapter to black anti-Semitism. The purpose of the
chapter is to demonstrate a media double standard. I compare press coverage of
two clusters of events that involved accusations of anti-Semitism. One cluster
of events involved Polish Catholics; the other involved African Americans.
November, 1993, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, made a speech at Kean College in
New Jersey. Muhammad said, inter alia, that Jews were not related to the
main characters in the Bible, who were black (although, somehow, black Jesus'
killers were Jews), that Jews hold economic, cultural, and political control of
American and African blacks, which they use to torment and oppress blacks, that
Jews were responsible for the Holocaust because of their obnoxious behavior in
Germany, that Jews control the press worldwide, and that Jewish involvement in
the Civil Rights Movement was a ploy to get blacks killed.
charges were leveled in non-standard, frequently obscene and contemptuous
language. For example, when Muhammad accused Jews of controlling the world gem
trade, he said, "That's why you call yourself Mr. Rubenstein, Mr.
Goldstein, Mr. Silverstein. Because you been stealing rubies and gold and
silver ... we say it real quick and call it jewelry, but it's not jewelry, it's
Jew-elry, 'cause you're the rogue that's stealing all over the face of the
planet earth." When ridiculing Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights
movement, Muhammad imitated a Yiddish accent. Muhammad, in future speeches,
called for death to all Jews: "Never will I say I am not an anti-Semite. I
pray that God will kill my enemy and take him off the face of the planet Earth."
response to such research-grade anti-Semitism, mainstream press accounts did
not begin with full-throated condemnation. In fact, mainstream press articles
about Muhammad's speech and attendant controversies are so formulaic that they
appear more like the scripture of some obsessive religious doctrine than the
result of a free and vigorous press.
of the refrains of this formula was reference to black suffering. The following
quotes, though all similar, are taken from different articles, authors, and
sources. Some listed: "drugs, violence, high rates of teen-age pregnancy,
poor schooling and poor discipline," "unemployment, alienation,
drugs, violence, health care, education, and lack of economic opportunity,"
"poverty, hopelessness, and despair," "drugs, poverty,
hopelessness and crime," "crime, poverty, and inequality,"
"drugs, poverty, and bitterness," "misery, drugs, crime,
poverty, and dying hope," "bitterness, alienation, and mistrust,"
"the bank that refuses to lend a dime to the inner city to the boy who
lives next door and carries a pistol, a crack vial and a heart turned to stone
by disappointment and hopelessness" as being responsible for misbehavior.
articles recounted black suffering in more intimate detail, often using vivid
anecdotes: "The teen-ager pulled up his shirt to show the bandage on his
lean belly and the round hole on his back that had been sealed shut. He had
been shot the other week, walking down the street to buy a hamburger."
"The year was 1948 and the laws of segregation were in full force. For
Muqaddin, who is black, it was a shattering experience that left him seething
with rage against white America." A Black Muslim woman was asked to remove
her veil while shopping in a mall. The woman reported: "she was
'humiliated' by the encounter with the St. Paul police, who forced her to
uncover her face. 'I don't want men lusting after the way I look or sound. It's
like someone else being made to pull down their undershorts in public.'"
references to black suffering went without amplifying commentary. The reader
was invited to use his own devices to weigh black suffering in some ethical
scale against anti-Semitism. Other writers offered more guidance, and advanced
complex rationalizations as to why black suffering ought either to dilute or
erase focus on anti-Semitism.
Dame American Studies chairman Robert Schmuhl spun references to black
suffering into support for Ishmael Reed's argument that the real story was the
threat to blacks and Jews posed by
white Christians. The Times argued
that since blacks were suffering so much, they needed to embrace and support
each other, regardless of ideology. The Times
pointed out that blacks, consumed by their suffering, might be "too
politically unsophisticated" to differentiate between ideologies. Writer
Thulani Davis repeated this view in Time.
One African American woman was quoted as saying that since African Americans
faced so many threats from white society, it was necessary to choose a force
that could protect them, and that that force was the Nation of Islam,
regardless of its anti-Semitism. This need for protection was also stated in The Christian Century.
USA Today argued that black suffering made blacks
hate all whites, not just Jews. The
Humanist argued that the traumas of slavery created a mythic vacuum that
NOI was filling. Benjamin Chavis, in the Times,
argued that the suffering of blacks "has created an ... alarming chasm of
attitudes and perceptions"; thus, whites could not judge people so
different from themselves. He also explicitly stated that black suffering, not
the racism of NOI, was the real story, the story the press should be covering.
This was repeated in several articles, by several authors, including in Time and Maclean's, and by Rabbi Michael Lerner.
care was taken to avoid condemnatory headlines and to provide headlines that
strove to represent "both sides," without, somehow, stressing that
one side was eliminationist anti-Semitism. With the use of such headlines and
such "balance," America's mainstream press changed the story.
Muhammad's anti-Semitism was not the issue on which focus needed to be trained;
focus needed to be trained, rather, on an effort to hear the "other
side." An article in which Farrakhan alluded to blood libel and a Jewish
conspiracy to destroy him was headlined, "Farrakhan Softens Tone."
were invited to focus on white haters, not black ones. The Progressive compared Muhammad to David Duke. Shelby Steele, in
the Times, compared him to Meir
Kahane and the KKK. Bob Herbert in the Times
compared him to "[Theodore G.] Bilbo and [George] Wallace in
blackface." Henry Louis Gates, also in the Times, summoned memories of those who watched Kitty Genovese die
and repeated a vivid quote by a rabbi at Baruch Goldstein's funeral: "One
million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail." New York magazine ran
one issue with two covers; one featured an anti-Semitic NOI preacher; the other,
conservative radio personality Bob Grant. The magazine's editor-in-chief, Kurt
Anderson, said, "This idea of parallel covers began to make sense and
seemed like a way to demonstrate that they go full circle to illustrate the
different strident ends of the spectrum."
comparisons were not buried towards the end of articles, but appeared up front,
to confront the reader head-on. The important event to focus on was not the
anti-Semitism of a black man, but racism in general. The New York Times entitled one Muhammad-inspired editorial with a
generalized headline: "The Stew of Hate." The lead sentence never
mentioned Muhammad: "Religious and racial bigotry never recede entirely,
witness the ebb and flow of Klan membership." Yes, condemnation of the
Klan is laudable, but the Times was
changing the subject to one easier to discuss.
simultaneously engaged in a contrary tactic: anti-Semitism among African
Americans was dismissed as unworthy of note. "Less news than soap
opera" comparable to the competition between figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan
and Tonya Harding, reported a political science professor. "Just a
pimple" said Franklyn Jenifer, president of Howard College, in US News and World Report. "I don't
get so upset by Farrakhan," yawned Michael Lerner in Time. Jews are never mentioned in the annual Ebony poll of urgent issues, sociology professor Raymond Mack
reminded his readers. "Forget Farrakhan" ran a headline in the Times, under which Bob Herbert advised:
"It's time to turn to other matters."
mainstream press used cautious and trivializing vocabulary to report
anti-Semitism among African Americans. Maclean's
trivialized: "the Jews took a special shellacking, not much of a surprise."
Professor Doris Wilkinson asked whether or not it was even possible that there
be such a thing as "black anti-Semitism." In the lead sentence of one
article, the Times reported that
"Black racism" is, for some blacks, "a laughable oxymoron."
Some articles began with "balanced" rhetorical questions, as in this
profile of the leader who invited Farrakhan to an NAACP summit: "Who is
Benjamin Chavis Jr., and what in the world is he trying to do to the venerable
NAACP? Is he a brash and brilliant innovator, pumping life into a sclerotic
organization whose glory days are past and whose current relevance is
questioned? Or is he an unrepentant radical and a peripatetic neophyte?"
When Farrakhan made classically anti-Semitic statements, echoing blood libel:
"The same people opposed to [Jesus] are opposed to me. It's the Passover
season. It's the right time;" the Times
said merely that these statements "may register on many ears as patently
anti-Semitic." Time said that
Farrakhan "appeared" to be putting down other people; that he was
and anecdotes were cited to indicate that black anti-Semites were not
representational of the black population. This in spite of other statistics
that showed that African Americans are more anti-Semitic than the general
population, and unlike the general population, become more anti-Semitic as they
become more educated
of anti-Semitism among African Americans were, it was posited, part of a
hidden, nefarious, anti-black agenda. Charles Rangel suggested that the ADL
might have been milking Muhammad's speech for money and publicity. The Amsterdam News accused the ADL of
"willful and cynical exploitation of a people for the purpose of raising
money from Jews by frightening them." Michael Lerner also suggested that
Jews were using accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans, in this
case as "an excuse to deny our own racism toward blacks" and as
"justification for some Americans to declare themselves 'disillusioned
with the oppressed'" and to cut social programs for the poor. The Times repeated this; charges of African
American anti-Semitism were allegedly "an excuse for doing little to
Thulani Davis, in Time, wrote that
accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans were "attempts to set
the terms of the discussion of racial conflict solely on African American
xenophobia. Like all litmus tests, this one is reductive and promotes self-defense
rather than thought and disclosure."
also pointed out that in the litmus test atmosphere, "African Americans do
not even feel comfortable to debate in public ... in such a delicate public
discussion it is dangerous to risk having words taken out of context, ideas
abbreviated into unrecognizable and harmful sound bites ... If the issue is
used simply to identify enemies, few will step forward." Davis further
stated that media reports of anti-Semitism among African-Americans were part of
a wider effort to create negative images of black people that fed off of
whites' fears of "black hate." "Black hate, though, is only a
new wrinkle in the increasingly negative portrayal of blacks as a whole,"
she wrote. This fear of black hate is taught to "each group of new
immigrants settling in the big cities of America."
letter to the Times denounced as
"racist" and "paternalistic" A.M. Rosenthal's request that
blacks denounce Muhammad. Rosenthal, implied the writer, was not just to blame
for his whiteness, he was also a parvenu who told African-Americans, "in
their own country" "what to do and say ... even by those that just
arrive on these shores."
veered into victim blaming. Blaming Jews for the anti-Semitism of blacks goes
back at least to Michael Lerner's 1969 manifesto in Judaism, where he wrote: "black anti-Semitism ... is ... a
tremendous disgrace to Jews, for this is ... rooted in the concrete fact of
oppression by Jews of blacks in the ghetto. In short, this anti-Semitism is in
part an earned anti-Semitism." Lerner was ready with similar accusations
to explain anti-Semitism among African Americans in 1994: "Jewish
neoconservatives at Commentary and
neoliberals at the New Republic have
led the assault on affirmative action" and Jews have "delighted in
the prospect of throwing black women and children off welfare as soon as
possible." Others also blamed Jewish opposition to affirmative action for
is but a brief summary of my comparisons of press accounts of accusations of
anti-Semitism among African Americans, versus press accounts of accusations of
anti-Semitism leveled against members of other demographics, especially persons
or groups most associated with Catholicism. In this brief summary, one can
discern a pattern.
months now, the media has presented alarming reports of random, innocent Jews
aggressively attacked on New York City streets. The attackers, video suggests,
are often African American. This is a problem, a problem that needs to be
addressed with courage, frankness, and dedication. If members of less-protected
high school boys from the American South, for example, were attacking Jews
on the streets, there would be an international outcry, a flood of tweets from
average citizens as well as celebrities, television broadcasts, academic
conferences and articles, and demands for an immediately available curriculum
to educate bigoted persons. A review of the above paragraphs outlining my
research on how media reacted to an overtly genocidal African American
anti-Semitic speaker suggests a reason why so few have been willing to state
the obvious. No, not all African Americans are anti-Semites, but some are, and
those that are include some who commit violent crimes, including murder, in the
name of anti-Semitism. This hatred, and these assaults, are not random, but are
supported by a detailed and deeply rooted ideology that declares that Jews are
"imposters," "interlopers," "Johnny-come-lately
Jews" and "usurpers" who have co-opted black people's real
apologias for these assaults rely on a competition for victim status created by
leftist ideology. The left awards its certified victims with virtue, innocence,
authority, and tangible benefits through programs like Affirmative Action. As
long as being the biggest victim is valuable, some African Americans will
resent Jews, perversely, for the Jews' own victimization.
black holocaust is one hundred times worse than the so-called Jew holocaust,"
said Khalid Abdul
Muhammad on the campus of Howard University. This articulated hatred must be
described, denounced, and deconstructed. There should be forthright academic
articles, conferences, and curricula, now, condemning this murderous
anti-Semitism. Those who take on this task face daunting odds. Those odds make
this work no less vital and urgent.
African Americans have suffered grievous harm. Yes, statistics
indicate that African Americans today are, as a group, poorer, less
educated, less healthy, and more likely to be incarcerated than white Americans
as a group. Yes, all Americans must do everything they can to close the gaps
between whites and blacks.
separate systems of ethics for blacks and whites are no more moral than
separate water fountains for blacks and whites. Human decency should not be
emblazoned with a "whites only" sign. It is not imperialist or racist
for people who aren't African American to speak out against black
anti-Semitism. It is paternalistic for mainstream media to resort to
transparent weasel words when reporting on vile street attacks on Jewish
elderly persons, women, children, and toddlers in strollers. If hitting
an old man in the head with a ten-pound paving stone is behavior that is
beneath contempt for a white person, it is also beneath contempt for a black
person. Those who refuse to say so clearly are guilty themselves. Let us not rewrite
Martin Niemoller's famous warning to read, "Then they came for the Jews /
And I did not speak out / Because I did not want to risk being accused of being
This piece first appeared in Front Page Magazine here
Dr Goska and readers:ReplyDelete
I had wondered why African-Americans become more anti-Semitic as they became more educated.
I thought it was an overclass display feature / maybe a compensation mechanism.
And why this does not happen among other groups; where this appears to be a big stated and tacit taboo against openly displaying anti-Semitism.
I think the real answer is we need more research but research would be controversial.Delete
But separate systems of ethics for blacks and whites are no more moral than separate water fountains for blacks and whites.ReplyDelete
This sentences sums it up. Double moral standards will at one point cause moral mayhem and untold suffering. We are experiencing the same thing here in Europe with the growing muslim population. If some muslim youth is "doing stuff" (like burning cars on New Years Eve in France, ganging up on Europeans, attacking Jews, being overtly criminal in general (60% of all prison inmates in France are...muslims)) they only write/tell you that "men" or "youngsters" are to blame. Also, the French/German/UK society as a whole. If a French/German/British person does s.th its ok to name their background and to show their photos. The effects are, that the native population is starting to deeply despise the muslims.They do not say so openly but sometimes you can catch some pieces of conversation on a train, in the supermarket ect. This will not end well in the long run.
This will not end well in the long run -- true!Delete
Excellent compilation and spot-on analysis. Looking askance at Black Anti-Semitism is one of many examples of the media’s wide-ranging embrace of political correctness. In addition to researching the sources of Black Anti-Semitism, researching why political correctness is so ingrained in the media would provide interesting and controversial findings.ReplyDelete
Gene thank you for the positive feedback.Delete