Sunday, May 18, 2008

News and Opinion From Crown Heights

There were three more attacks on Jews on Shabbos, May 17 and 18, one of them involving a knife. According to sources involved in neighbourhood security, verbal abuse during the attack indicated a bias motive. One attack which occurred Friday night involved a verbal argument that became physical. Despite the fact that the Black man in the dispute had admitted throwing a punch, only the Jew was detained. He was also released after intervention from concerned community members .In the second incident at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Albany Avenue, Jews returning from synagogue on Saturday afternoon were pelted with pieces of concrete. The third incident involved an African American man who rode his bicycle into a crowd of Jews on purpose. In the altercation that ensued, he pulled a knife. A police officer standing nearby refused to intervene.Since it is widely known that observant Jews do not handle or carry money on Shabbos, robbery appears highly unlikely as as a reason for any of the attacks
The inflammatory news coverage of the beating of an African American youth should be considered as a possible motive for a rise in "retaliatory" attacks against Jews. It need not be assumed that an altercation between Jews and African Americans is racially motivated. There was a rush to judgement in the case involving an African American police officer's son. When the District Attorney and the media present a sensationalised and biased picture of volunteer patrols, innocent people pay for the hostile climate that is created. An African American taxi driver and a teenage African American girl were aided by the same patrol that is now being villified in the press. This information has been virtually ignored in the media, creating an excuse for those inclined toward violence to vent their hatred of Jews.
I remember well the incitement of Al Sharpton during the Crown Heights riots in 1991. There are those in the media and political world who pay periodic lip service to their alleged fondness for Jews who are often no less guilty of incitement. I can say after twenty five years that the news media provides a very distorted picture of the neighbourhood I live in.
There was a demonstration Friday shortly before Shabbos against anti Jewish hooligans and indifferent politicians. The three attacks against Jews on Shabbos show a need for a more resolute and responsible handling of law enforcement in Crown Heights. The overwhelming majority of Crown Heights residents strive for peaceful coexistence. Those who attack physically attack innocent citizens should be removed from the streets. Those who incite them for political reasons should be removed from office.

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