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Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Pogrom from the Past, A Warning for the Future

The Dinkins administration, Jesse Jackson, Liberal Jews and the Crown Heights Pogrom. Stop me when this begins to sound familiar...and then begin swapping the liberal Jewish leaders of 1989 and 1991 for 2008. Ein Hadash Tahat Hashemesh.

NYT 1989: Some of New York's Jewish Voters Reconsider Their Support of Dinkins

While many said they wanted to vote for a black man and a Democrat, they said they had become unsure of whether Mr. Dinkins is up to the task of running the city.

''The ambivalence is really strong.'' Mr. Dinkins continues to have his supporters among Jews, many of whom cite his calm and dignified ways; his stands on social, environmental and development issues, and his experience in city government.

But some Jewish voters said their early support for Mr. Dinkins and a tradition of voting for Democrats had been undermined by nagging fears about Mr. Dinkins's political associates and concern over the handling of his finances.

''Dinkins is a kind, caring gentleman,'' said Diane Roskies, a lawyer from the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

1989 - NYT: Dinkins and Koch Vie for Jews' Votes

David N. Dinkins, the Manhattan Borough President running in the Democratic primary for mayor, had just completed a swing through a Lower East Side knish shop, seeking votes among the Orthodox Jewish families gathered for an early Sunday lunch. But the handshaking made no impression on a young man in a yarmulke at the back of the room.

''Koch,'' the 24-year-old accountant from Queens said last week, when asked his preference in Tuesday's primary. As for Mr. Dinkins, now in a neck-and-neck race against the incumbent Mayor, the young man - who declined to give his name - simply shook his head, saying he was ''very uncomfortable'' with the ties between Mr. Dinkins, who is black, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose views on Israel are regarded with suspicion by many Jews.

Mr. Dinkins has taken to challenging his questioners, asking why he should answer for a friend's opinions. ''I'm not here asking you to vote for Jesse Jackson,'' he told an audience on Talkline, a radio program on station WWRV aimed at a Jewish audience. ''Why should it be so important whether or not Jesse Jackson comes in here to campaign for me? What in blazes does that have to do with whether I should be mayor of the City of New York?''

Yet in Queens, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, of the Young Israel synagogue of Kew Garden Hills, is predicting a solid victory for Mr. Koch in his neighborhood, saying that Mr. Jackson's appearance on the scene ''had sent certain warning signals to the Jewish community.''

Mr. Dinkins has taken to challenging his questioners, asking why he should answer for a friend's opinions. ''I'm not here asking you to vote for Jesse Jackson,'' he told an audience on Talkline, a radio program on station WWRV aimed at a Jewish audience. ''Why should it be so important whether or not Jesse Jackson comes in here to campaign for me? What in blazes does that have to do with whether I should be mayor of the City of New York?''

Yet in Queens, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, of the Young Israel synagogue of Kew Garden Hills, is predicting a solid victory for Mr. Koch in his neighborhood, saying that Mr. Jackson's appearance on the scene ''had sent certain warning signals to the Jewish community.''

Still, Mr. Dinkins is also able to draw on the long history of Jewish support for civil rights and on the sympathies of those voters who are eager to embrace a more liberal candidate than Mr. Koch. Rabbi Balfour Brickner, senior rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side and a Dinkins supporter, said those voters are solidly behind Mr. Dinkins.

Dinkins supporters expect Mr. Dinkins to win a much greater percentage, based on his long-standing relations with Jewish groups and his reputation as a conciliator. ''He has really reached out to Jews in a special way,'' said Sam Intrator, a legislative aide to Councilwoman Susan D. Alter of Brooklyn.

On My Mind - A.M. Rosenthal 1989

New York Jews who vote against David Dinkins just because they do not like Jesse Jackson are doing a disservice not only to the candidate but to the city, Jews, blacks, Israel - yes, and maybe to Jesse Jackson, too.

'Yes,'' he said. ''On the record. Crazy - and unfair. David has denounced Farrakhan and is a friend of Israel - unfair.''

I am hardly unaware of Jewish sensitivities about Israel. But to vote against Mr. Dinkins because of Mr. Jackson's attitude strikes me as wrong. Before he became a candidate, Mr. Dinkins distanced himself from those things most Jews find objectionable about Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Jackson's politics make me uneasy. But I have heard him speak about this country with belief, positiveness and hope and seen children and parents draw strength from his words.

Vivid New Court Statements Detail Crown Heights Clash

In graphic accounts given in court papers, Hasidic residents and civic leaders from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, described what some called a terrifying "pogrom" in which several said they were attacked by bands of young black men in four days of racial violence in 1991.

The accounts, given in 13 affidavits filed last night in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, are intended to support a suit that Hasidic residents brought last year charging that Mayor David N. Dinkins and the Police Commissioner at the time deliberately withheld police protection while the Hasidim were attacked.

Several Hasidim said in the affidavits that police officers stood by and watched assaults without intervening, and some said officers said they were ordered not to use force against those engaging in the violence.

"The police did not intervene as the crowd surrounded my son and me and savagely beat us with their fists, bricks and bottles," Issac Bitton said in his affidavit. "I blacked out after I was pummeled in the head with a brick or rock."

Nechama Lipkind said, "The rioters were attempting to invade my home" as she was "bleeding profusely" from a head wound caused by a brick or stone that was thrown through a window.

Now, she said, she is frightened merely by "pounding on the front door.

"Police were in the vicinity and, in fact, watched the entire incident take place from across the street," she said.

The suit, filed last November, contends that top city officials failed to respond to the violence because they decided that black protesters "should be permitted to vent their rage" over the incident that touched off the disturbances, the death of a black child, Gavin Cato, 7, who was accidentally killed by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew.

During the disturbances, a Hasidic man, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death after being surrounded by a group of youths.

NYT 1992 Dinkins Confronts Jewish Critics in Crown Heights

For the first time since the Crown Heights racial violence 16 months ago, Mayor David N. Dinkins met yesterday with Jewish representatives who have criticized him the most harshly for his leadership during the disturbance and its aftermath.

After name-calling against Mr. Dinkins reached a peak two weeks ago -- when he was called a "Jew hater" at a meeting in Queens and was compared with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader whom many people view as anti-Semitic -- many politically moderate Jews called for an end to the shrill oratory. Howard J. Rubenstein, a public-relations executive who is close both to Mr. Dinkins and to many Jewish organizations, helped organize private talks that led to yesterday's meeting.

NYT 1992 Crown Heights Exposes Fissures Among Jewish Groups

The bitter standoff between blacks and Jews in Crown Heights has not only stirred long-simmering racial tensions in New York City and distilled deep anger among both groups. It has also exposed longstanding divisions within the city's diverse Jewish population

there remains a political and philosophical tug-of-war between the largely liberal Manhattan-based Jewish organizations that have long supported Mr. Dinkins, and more politically and religiously conservative Jews in the other boroughs,

But for weeks, a group of harsher voices had dominated the debate, their ambitions and agendas diverse and sometimes contradictory. They ranged from Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew and conservative Brooklyn Democrat who cut his teeth in the Jewish Defense League movement, who has often supported Republican candidates and says he aspires to higher office, to Avi Weiss, a rabbi from Riverdale in the Bronx who has carried his quest to defend Jewish identity from Auschwitz to the Vatican

In October, after the acquittal of the black teen-ager charged in the fatal stabbing of a Hasidic scholar in Crown Heights last year, Rabbi Weiss led a group of marchers to Gracie Mansion with a coffin, amid chants of "Jewish blood is not cheap" and "Dinkins must go." Mr. Hikind, a longtime critic of the Mayor who supported his rival, Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1989, led a similar protest outside the Mayor's recent fund raiser.

Once, such demonstrations would have largely been ignored by other Jewish organizations and the press. But now the anger expressed by such voices has seemed to resonate more broadly, at a time when the specter of last year's violence by groups running through the streets of Crown Heights chanting "Kill the Jew"

Leaders of several Jewish organizations supported Mr. Dinkins's election in the hope that he could ease racial tensions, and were reluctant to be seen as piling on him. That quandary only grew more painful this fall when some Hasidic protesters carried signs branding the Mayor as a wanted murderer, a charge repugnant to (liberal) Jewish groups aware of Mr. Dinkins's long record of support for their causes.

Mr. Siegman of the American Jewish Congress said, "I really don't want to comment about Ed Koch, except to say he continues to be a thoroughly destructive force. He showed his capacity for that while he was Mayor and now he's giving it the fullest possible expression."

Mr. Dinkins has dismissed the harshest of his critics as politically motivated "racists and rabble-rousers," descriptions that his aides said were intended to encompass Mr. Hikind and Rabbi Weiss.

Rabbi Weiss, a soft-spoken, hollow-cheeked ascetic who describes himself ruefully as something of a pariah to what he called "Park Avenue Jews," has protested the Mayor's actions

NYT -1993 Dinkins Retains Financing From Groups of 4 Years Ago

Although Mayor David N. Dinkins has spent much of his re-election campaign trying to hold together the fragile coalition of voters that elected him in 1989, he seems to have had little trouble retaining the financial support of the alliance of Manhattan liberals, real-estate developers, Wall Street executives and black business leaders who bankrolled him four years ago.

Despite polls hinting that the Mayor has lost some support among liberals, including Jewish liberals, campaign finance records show among his major fund-raisers many prominent Jewish residents of Manhattan, including Edgar Bronfman Jr., Bruce Ratner, Jack Rudin, Felix G. Rohatyn, Carl Spielvogel, Jonathan Tisch, Howard Rubenstein and Arthur Levitt.

NYT 1993 On My Mind; What the Hasidim Know

To walk away from Crown Heights now, with its real meaning and the real offense of New York City's government still unstated and unexamined, would make it more likely that some other riot, some other pogrom, against some other group would be committed somewhere in America. There can be hope after Crown Heights -- but, as always, only when reality is faced.

I do not understand why some Jews do not understand what is in the hearts of the Hasidim, or are silent... Are the Hasidim a little too Jewish for them? Maybe they think only a certain kind of Jew gets beaten up. Sweethearts, by you, you are Park Avenue, by your wife you are Park Avenue, but by an anti-Semite you are a Hasid.

All right, we all know that Jews can be among the most suicidal of God's ostriches. But does everybody else have to be that thick too?

Why does Gov. Mario Cuomo say we should be grateful to the Mayor for all the riots that did not happen? Surely he jests; St. John's turns out great lawyers, but lesser comedians.


  1. Same play, new cast, same old hatred and bigotry from the same guys recycled over and over like Haman and spitler.

    trash, communists, bigots, erev rav and worse.

  2. Right you are, Lemon. Only now if Obama is elected the small cast will magnify into a grand opera.

    It never ceases to amaze me how readily voters dismiss a politician's ties to racists and other unsavory characters.

  3. Despite what they NYPD said, they wouldn't have helped regardless. It's just the way they are.

    They complain when they have to protect us during the holidays (heard them) and protect the jamaicans and haitians during theirs for fear we might hurt them. Yip. Heard that one too. Pathetic.

    So, do you really think the NYPD cared about what was happening during the riots? Nope.

    The blacks did though, but no one mentions them. The media wanted it to appear as though every black in Brooklyn wanted us dead. It wasn't true. There were just a few who started the riots and a whole lot more who were against it and trying hard to get us stuff we needed from diapers to anything else that was needed. They were the unsung heroes.

  4. I'm sure they were heroes, Yo. Thank G-d for the Good Samaritans of the world :)

    Still, the fact that the Jews in Crown Heights needed people to get them necessities of living does make it sound as though Crown Heights was under seige and only blacks were able to move about freely and safely.

    But my overall impression is that Dinkins didn't care because A. the people under seige were Jews and B. White.

    Whether the LA riots after the verdict in the Rodney King case or rioting after MLK was killed society seems to anticipate the blacks will go on a violent rampage and the police should tolerate it because they're from a stressed community.

    Let 'em riot and they'll eventually wear themselves out and burn themselves out. Either that or the National Guard will have to be called in. In which case, the government will be accused of overreacting.

    A vicious cycle.

    We see this attitude in Europe with all of the "disenfranchized" rioting Muslims. And I'd bet my life if Obama is president the US would permit all manner of Muslim aggression for the same reason.

    The world will become LA, Crown Heights, Chicago etc.

    And I fear Israel will get the worst of an Obama international policy of tolerating Muslim anger.

  5. But dovbear style liberal kapos say it wasn't a pogrom.



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