Twenty-Five Years after the Riots in Crown Heights, the Media Continue to Misunderstand

Aug. 22 2016

Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the outbreak of the Crown Heights riots, precipitated when a ḥasidic driver accidentally hit and killed a black child. The media at the time reported what was happening in the Brooklyn neighborhood as “clashes” between “gangs” of black and Jewish youths, when—as was made clear by the official New York State report—all of the violence was committed by African-Americans and directed against Jews. While relations between the two communities have fortunately improved, the media persist in misunderstanding the local dynamics. Mordechai Lightstone, himself a Ḥasid who has lived in the neighborhood for over ten years, writes:

Today Crown Heights has been designated as “ground zero for gentrification.” . . . Suddenly a community of working- and middle-class families, both Jewish and black, find themselves no longer able to afford housing in the neighborhood they call home. . . .

Yet this displacement has been completely ignored in the media. Not once has the Jewish community been mentioned in the discussion. And why should it be? The story has already been framed: hipsters move in, black people are displaced. . . . Yes, there are ḥasidic Jews, almost entirely not from Crown Heights, who are active in real-estate development. But even in their respective neighborhoods they make up only a tiny sliver of the community. Yet somehow ḥasidic Jews of all types—teachers, scribes, plumbers, online merchants, and small-business owners of all backgrounds—have been relegated to only one role: the [stereotypical] ḥasidic landlord.

Ḥasidim are cast into the anti-Semitic stereotypes of old when it comes to Brooklyn. They are the alien force that preys upon the innocent, ever present but always foreign.

Read more at Forward

More about: African Americans, Anti-Semitism, Brooklyn, Chabad, Hasidism, Jewish World, Media

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations