Have all of NY's elected officials gone AWOL as Jew hatred soars?

The stark realization is that Jew hatred has reached the kind of epidemiological proportions that are tantamount to those of pre-Nazi Europe.

Ronald Edelstein

OpEds Orthodox Jews in South Williasmburg, Brooklyn
Orthodox Jews in South Williasmburg, Brooklyn
As the year 2019 draws to a close in the Gregorian calendar, there is no doubt that it will be remembered as the year that global anti-Semitism dominated the headlines and sent a chill down collective Jewish spines.  Suffice it to say, anti-Semitism has been an endemic part of the Jewish experience since time immemorial, as the blood stained pages of Jewish history tragically illustrate.

In the fraught times in which we live, the stark realization is that Jew hatred has reached the kind of epidemiological proportions that are tantamount to those of pre-Nazi Europe.

In 2017, there were more than 200 reported anti-Semitic incidents in New York City, according to the annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, representing a 90 percent increase from 2016. In 2018, most reported anti-Semitic assaults in the city took place in Brooklyn, and in 2019 this same borough has seen an alarming increase in the frequency and aggressiveness of visceral Jew hatred.

In the last several weeks alone, Orthodox Jews have been harassed and assaulted in the Borough Park and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn, with the latest attack coming on Monday night, November 25th in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

Two yeshiva students were assaulted by a group of rowdy teens at around 6 pm outside of the Chovevei Torah building on Eastern Parkway, according to the CrownHeights. info web site. One of the two bochurim had his hat knocked off during the incident, which thankfully passed without any physical injuries. A passerby called Crown Heights Shomrim, who were able to track the teens to the Albany House Building Projects just a few blocks away. A police report was filed with the 77th precinct, whose representatives  came to visit the yeshiva on Tuesday to speak with the bochurim.

In a separate incident, only a few days ago, an Orthodox man was sucker punched by a 19-year old minority young person in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. This, of course, follows months of reported anti-Semitic attacks targeting clearly identifiable Jews in the borough that boasts the largest Jewish population in the city.

And lest we be reminded that each day the scourge of anti-Semitism is reported at colleges and universities across the city and state. Last week, it was reported that the US Department of Education has launched an investigation of anti-Semitism at New York University, based on the complaint submitted by Adela Cojab, a 22-year old senior.  Her complaint mainly centered around a group called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an on-campus pro-Palestinian group.  According to the complaint, Adela has said that SJP has created a “hostile atmosphere” for Jewish students, and that NYU has allowed “extreme anti-Semitism” to thrive.

On November 24th, JTA reported that a professor at Syracuse University was threatened by an anonymous email containing anti-Semitic language and Holocaust references.

The email was sent to Genevieve García de Müeller, a professor of writing, rhetoric and composition, the campus student newspaper, The Daily Orange, reported. The subject line of the email was “JEW.” It told her to “get in the oven where you belong” and ended with an anti-Semitic slur, according to the newspaper, which did not disclose the slur. Mueller is Jewish and Mexican.

This of course follows a horrifying wave of Jew hatred and racism at the university that boasts a reputation of attracting students the world over.

A white supremacist manifesto was apparently airdropped to students at a Syracuse University library a day after a fraternity was suspended for alleged racism, and multiple instances of racist graffiti have been reported to campus authorities.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted Syracuse University chancellor Kent Syverud, saying that none of his actions to combat hate crimes on campus 'instills confidence" in the community.

"The hateful activities at Syracuse University are most disturbing, not only to the Syracuse University community, but to the greater community of New York," Cuomo said in a statement. "They have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state's aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, and reprehensible behavior. That these actions should happen on the campus of a leading New York university makes this situation even worse."

Isn't it interesting that when white supremacism is at the focus of a deluge of anti-Semitism and racism, it commands the strident and vocal indignation of our elected officials, but when the perpetrators and purveyors of anti-Semitism are members of minorities, we do not even hear a whisper of angst in the public square.

While we sit in abject fear each day that yet another form of anti-Semitic harassment or assault will emerge on our television screens or will be splashed across the publications that we read, we must take note when such crimes occur, because a thorough and rigorous investigation is clearly mandated.

And that brings to the role, or lack thereof, of the New York State Attorney General. It doesn't take much to know that the rudimentary function of the Attorney General is to launch meticulous probes in order to root out the pernicious source or sources from which criminal behavior is emanating, to find out who the suspects are and what their motive is.

Suffice it to say that Attorney General Letitia James has been essentially mute when it pertains to attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn or Monsey and she has done nothing in terms of sending out her cracker jack  team of investigators to seek out the perpetrators of anti-Semitism on university campuses across the state.

What Ms. James has been doing however is also quite noteworthy. Last week, it was reported that she announced that her office has filed suit against the landmark B&H Photo & Video Electronics Store in Manhattan. She erroneously alleges that the store withheld approximately $7.3 million in tax revenue from New York State over 13 years.

In a statement issued to the media, spokesman for B&H Photo, Jeff Gerstel, said the state’s lawsuit was without merit. “B&H is not a big box store or a faceless chain; we are a New York institution, having operated here for nearly 50 years with a stellar reputation. The tax department has done countless audits and never once – not a single time – mentioned this widespread industry practice. B&H has done nothing wrong and it is outrageous that the AG has decided to attack a New York company that employs thousands of New Yorkers while leaving the national online and retail behemoths unchallenged.”

For those not in the know, B&H Photo is owned and operated by Orthodox Jews. Its employees are parents of large families and they depend on their incomes to sustain themselves and pay yeshiva tuitions for their children.

Sources who monitor the press releases routinely sent out to the media by Ms. James' office have also taken note of the fact that Ms. James consistently targets Orthodox Jewish landlords. Utilizing the underhanded subterfuge of positing herself as a  "champion of the underdog" Ms. James uses her position to spew forth spurious allegations that not only severely tarnish the reputations of these landlords but serve to destroy their businesses and livelihood.

While I ask my readers to draw their own conclusions based on the facts presented, it is quite apparent to me that Ms. James has her own agenda. As the old adage goes, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is duck."

Yet another example of Ms. James' partisanship can be found in a New York Post article of November 19th. The article focuses on  the Reverend Al Sharpton’s troubled charity, the National Action Network, which, according to the publication has "dodged scrutiny paid other nonprofits — despite paying him $1 million last year — thanks to his political clout, insiders and experts say."

“There are certain things that are universally true in New York: the sun rises in the east, it sets in the west, the subway is late and no one wants to pick a fight with Al Sharpton,” said one top Democratic insider. “Where’s the political benefit to doing it?”

"Sharpton’s teflon provides a sharp contrast to the vigorous investigations state Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance mounted against President Trump, including his charity.

“Cy Vance is staring down the fight of his life and Tish James isn’t about to put the screws to the most prominent social justice activist in the country,” said another Democratic insider.

James and two of her predecessors pursued litigation against Trump for self-dealing, including billing his own Donald J. Trump Foundation $10,000 for his portrait."

Whether one wants to admit it or not, we cannot escape the truth. And I humbly take this opportunity to say it as succinctly as I possibly can. Letitia James has pushed an anti-Semitic and partisan agenda that seems aimed at both disempowering Jews and attacking President Trump, while protecting those she believes are unassailable social activists. In reality, those who escape her investigatory gaze have been steeped in the most egregious forms of political corruption for decades.

Perhaps the time is long overdue for the people of New York to start demanding that political brinksmanship longer be an acceptable norm. Perhaps it is time that we seriously entertain the notion of  conducting our own campaign to "drain our local swamps" of those officials who have come to embody the putrid stench of Jew hatred and the furtherance of the tendentious Democratic party agenda.  Now, before it is too late!!

Ronald Edelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors and a lifelong Jewish activist, writer and speaker. He is the chairman of Ron Properties, a real estate company in New York.