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’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC