In Rockland County last night, during a Chanukah celebration at a synagogue a man stormed in with a machete and stabbed at least five victims, who were taken to the hospital. This is the latest in a string of antisemitic attacks in the New York City area, coming in the wake of the tragic killing of four people during an attack on a Jewish grocery store in Jersey City.
These two acts of violence this month have brought renewed attention to the sharp uptick in anti Jewish violence that has quietly held New York City in its grip over the past few years. Sadly, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spent much of the year more concerned with his farcical run for president than protecting the citizens of his own city, and the state governments of New York and New Jersey have, been flatfooted in addressing the growing concern.
It has frankly been astounding how little attention attacks on Jews in the New York City area have received. If any other minority group were subject to such abuse, it would be a leading national story. Why have these attacks been swept under the carpet? The clearest answer seems to be that the news media and our political leadership are uncomfortable with the fact that many of these attacks, including last night’s, were perpetrated by black people.
Make no mistake, if white supremacists in MAGA hats were shooting minorities or carving them up with machetes, it wouldn’t just be news, it would be the only news. So satisfying would that narrative be to our politicians and scribes that we would scarcely be able to turn away. But alas, it’s Jews being killed and maimed. And the criminals don’t fit the bill of right-wing, Trump-supporting Nazis, so, you know, it’s complicated.
De Blasio, who has ignored this festering problem for years, had this to tweet last night: “Horrific, So many Jewish families in our city have close ties to Monsey. We cannot overstate the fear people are feeling right now. I’ve spoken to longtime friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith.”
Seriously, Bill? You are just realizing this now? Attacks on ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn have become an almost weekly occurrence under de Blasio. Synagogues and schuls are vandalized regularly, and children and old people are attacked. This is a crisis and has all too often happened throughout Jewish history. It has typically been ignored at best. At worst, the victims are blamed for not fitting in.
Nobody wants to talk about it, but something is going on between the black and Jewish communities in the New York City area that needs to be addressed. The Jersey City shooters were Black Hebrew Israelites; the machete-wielding man who attacked last night was also identified as black. It is time we stop simply wishing that this problem did not exist and address it full on.
For progressives like de Blasio, this is hard to do. The notion that hatred is harbored by some in the black community towards Jews does not comport with their hierarchies of oppression. So rather than deal with the problem, they ignore it. This has to stop. And it has to stop now.
It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the conversation is. The growing tensions between the black and Jewish communities in New York, harkening back to the Crown Heights riots, must be dealt with. This will take real effort, and a commitment from leaders in the black community to educate and eradicate anti-Jewish bias.
Nobody wants to talk about this, but that’s just too bad. It has to be talked about before more Jews are killed. There is no bigger story than this in the five boroughs and its adjacent communities. The war on Jews has to be ended. But before it can end, it must first be acknowledged.