Larry Gordon
Larry GordonCourtesy

The U.S. federal government has finally decided when it is proper to express hostility and disdain for Jews and when it is a little bit too much and some type of restraint is in order.

The Biden administration last week adopted a policy that has struggled to define the true nature of anti-Semitism. It appears that, after a long debate, the conclusion is that there are times and places when hostility—or just plain hatred—for Jews is warranted and appropriate.

And that is something unusual about the Jewish people.

The core issue seems to be the dichotomy between hatred and criticism for Israel and hatred and criticism for Jews in general. Is there a difference? The Biden administration went to painstaking lengths to devise a strategy that combats the precipitous rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S., where Jews are just 2.4% of the population but incur 56% of attacks motivated by hatred.

Right-leaning Jewish groups in the U.S. have been pressuring the Biden administration to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IRHA) definition of anti-Semitism, which incorporates criticism of Israel, including speech relevant to Israel that would be considered anti-Semitic. Interestingly—and oddly—it is groups like J Street that prefer to leave criticism of Israel out of the equation and, as policy, to focus exclusively on personal and institutional attacks that target Jews in the U.S.

In the end, the Biden administration left criticism of Israel outside of the anti-Semitism equation, which essentially means that open season on attacking Israel cannot only continue but is encouraged. In other words, it’s conceivable that if you are an Israeli citizen residing in the U.S., and an individual or group objects to an Israeli government policy, whether it is related to peace with her neighbors or on the matter of judicial reform, a verbal assault on such an individual may not, by law, be considered an act of Jew hatred or anti-Semitism.

Of course, as we all know through our study of history or the personal experiences of family members, the involvement of government and the matter of legislating relationships with Jews and Jewish communities is always potentially volatile.

Let’s take a look at what New York State Assemblyman Ari Brown is combating as some elected members of the Assembly who introduced Bill 6943 seek to penalize non-profit organizations that have any affiliation with the State of Israel, which Mr. Brown characterizes as “an attack on Jews and Israel.”

Assemblyman Brown held a news conference in Albany on Wednesday exposing the socialist leftist members of the Assembly who seem bent on the idea of punishing New Yorkers who are supporters of Israel. Brown brought the matter of the proposed legislation to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie who told Brown that he will not be allowing the legislation to be brought to the floor or for the body to vote on it.

On the surface, that looks like the right thing to do, but Brown said in an interview with the 5TJT that he wants the Speaker to denounce the leftist anti-Semitic effort which, so far, Mr. Heastie has refused to do. Brown said that the Speaker is a left-leaning liberal, but, he adds, he lives in too much fear of the radical socialists and therefore will not call them out.

Assemblyman Brown also wrote to Governor Kathy Hochul—the letter appears below—but so far she has not responded.

And that is the problem with the federal government as well, after years of believing that they have finally taken appropriate steps to combat anti-Semitism. They’ve moved the furniture around and redecorated a bit, but nothing has really changed in any dramatic fashion so long as one can spew hatred in the direction of Israel and Israelis and the government calls it legitimate criticism.

Earlier this week, Democratic candidate for President Robert Kennedy posted praise for rabid Jew hater and Israel basher Roger Waters who appeared in Nazi regalia at a concert in Germany. Kennedy praised Waters, who excoriates Jews and calls for the destruction of Israel, as someone who “speaks truth to power.” Kennedy later took down the tweet saying that he was referencing Waters’ position on the vaccine and the war in Ukraine and was unaware of his virulent anti-Israel positions. That’s difficult to believe.

Cindy Grosz and Ari Brown
Cindy Grosz and Ari BrownCourtesy

Major U.S. Jewish organizations like the Conference of Presidents and the American Jewish Committee endorsed the Biden stand on combating anti-Semitism, leaving a lot of wiggle room for Jew haters to continue unabashedly with business as usual, as long as the hostility they harbor for Jews is couched in anti-Israel terms.

When it comes to racial discrimination or anti-Asian attacks there seems to be zero tolerance, and that is the way it should be. But when it comes to Israel and Jews, along with the condemnation there always seems to be some space in which we, the Jewish victims, can consider how we may have brought these assaults and criticisms upon ourselves.

That is where groups like Americans for Peace Now and J Street enter the fray, suggesting that if only Israel would extract Jews from Judea and Samaria and divide Jerusalem there would be less hostility toward Jews. Of course, that fails to explain why Israel was under attack back when Jerusalem was divided and when there were no Jews in the territories. But no one asks about that, and even if they would there is no good answer.

ZOA chief Morton Klein
ZOA chief Morton KleinHezki Baruch

This week, Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein took the Biden administration and several major Jewish organizations to task for accepting a compromise when it comes to Jew hatred. He wrote to the president and was critical of the administration’s soft peddling phraseology on anti-Semitism while shifting pent-up disdain for Jews over to Israel and Zionism, thereby making that type of excoriation kosher.

If the U.S. is going to be serious about stamping out wholesale anti-Semitism, they certainly know how to do it. The problem is that the administration wants to leave room for their two-state policy in Israel and their obsession with dividing Jerusalem. If they would remove those two matters from the equation it would probably mean fewer anti-Semitic attacks across the board.

Someone in the administration just does not want to let go of that issue. A lack of real progress is the result.


Letter To Kathy Hochul

We write to express our deepest concern and outrage brought on by Assembly Bill 6943. We are appalled that a “colleague” in the Assembly, Zohran Mamdani, created and vigorously pushed forward this utterly vicious and anti-Semitic measure, with support from Members Shresha, Forest, and Mitayenes. This bill seeks to penalize non-profit entities that have any affiliation with the state of Israel and is effectively an attack on Jews and Israel. As Americans, we find this bill to be not only discriminatory but also deeply anti-Semitic, and our colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference share these concerns. It is clear that these legislators are using this bill as nothing more than an attempt to delegitimize and denigrate Israel and its right to self-determination.
Throughout history, the Jewish people and Israel have been under constant attack from their enemies, and are now facing another attack, this time from some New York State legislators. The bill would have a chilling effect on anyone who supports Israel or has any connections to the country and the Jewish people. This bill would penalize not-for-profit businesses and organizations for simply exercising their freedom of association and expression, which goes against the very principles of our democracy. Furthermore, this bill is a direct attack on Jewish individuals and their communities, not for their beliefs, but for simply existing. It purposefully and unfairly singles out the Jewish people and creates a hostile environment for them in New York State. Is it any wonder why anti-Semitic attitudes and incidents are on the rise in our country, when this rhetoric and hatred is espoused in our halls of government?
As Americans, we believe in supporting our allies, and Israel is our most important ally in the region. Israel shares our American values of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. The proposed bill not only hurts Israel but also damages this vital and strategic relationship. It sends a clear message that New York State is not a friendly place for Israel or for those who offer her support.
This Assembly Bill goes against the very principles of democracy and sets a dangerous precedent for others to follow. We strongly oppose this bill and urge our fellow elected officials to publicly denounce this proposal and do everything in their power to prevent this and similar legislation from becoming law.
Governor Hochul, this is one of those moments in history that define us as being on the right or wrong side of history, we trust your response will be expeditious and supportive of the Jewish people.
Sincerely yours,
Ari Brown
20th Assembly District
Will Barclay Joseph Angelino
Assembly Minority Leader 121st Assembly District
Anil Beephan Scott Bendett
105th Assembly District 107th Assembly District
Kenneth D. Blankenbush Jacob Blumencranz
117th Assembly District 15th Assembly District
Karl Brabenec Alec Brook-Krasny
98th Assembly District 46th Assembly District
Keith P. Brown Marjorie L. Byrnes
12th Assembly District 133rd Assembly District
Lester Chang Brian Curran
49th Assembly District 21st Assembly District
Joseph P. DeStefano David J. DiPietro
3rd Assembly District 147th Assembly District
Michael Durso Michael J. Fitzpatrick
9th Assembly District 8th Assembly District
Edward A. Flood Christopher S. Friend
4th Assembly District 124th Assembly District
Jeffery Gallahan Jarett Gandolfo
131st Assembly District 7th Assembly District
Jodi Giglio Joseph M. Giglio
2nd Assembly District 148th Assembly District
Andrew Goodell Scott A. Gray
150th Assembly District 116th Assembly District
Stephen M. Hawley Joshua T. Jensen
139th Assembly District 134th Assembly District
John Lemondes, Jr. Brian Maher
126th Assembly District 101st Assembly District
Brian D. Manktelow David G. McDonough
130th Assembly District 14th Assembly District
John W. McGowan John Mikulin
97th Assembly District 17th Assembly District
Brian D. Miller Angelo J. Morinello
122nd Assembly District 145th Assembly District
Michael J. Norris Michael Novakhov
144th Assembly District 45th Assembly District
Philip A. Palmesano Samuel T. Pirozzolo
132ndAssembly District 63rd Assembly District
Edward P. Ra Michael W. Reilly, Jr.
19th Assembly District 62nd Assembly District
Matthew Simpson Matthew J. Slater
114th Assembly District 94th Assembly District
Douglas M. Smith Robert J. Smullen
5th Assembly District 118th Assembly District
Christopher Tague Michael Tannousis
102nd Assembly District 64th Assembly District
Mary Beth Walsh
112th Assembly District

Assemblyman Ari Brown Speech On Capitol Steps Re: BILL 6943

Good morning. You all think we are here, standing before this guy with a yarmulka because he’s upset about another spate of antisemitism, this time by Zohran Kwame Mamdani, well, I’ll tell you, it’s so much more than that. There are many others among us, right here in these great halls, such as Sen. Jabari Brisport, a fellow DSA -Democrat Socialist, Assembly members Shresha, Forest, and Mitayenes who are looking to dismantle the American way of life through their Socialist attacks on Society.

Let’s put this into perspective. Endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, and born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Muslim, Zohran Kwame Mamdani, is the son of antisemitic, Marxist, Columbia professor Mahmood Mamdani, the director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), and filmmaker Mira Nairborn.

A community organizer, Mamdani became formally involved in politics when he volunteered for New York City Council candidate Khader El-Yateem, an antisemitic, Israel hating, Palestinian Lutheran minister.

Like all self-avowed Socialists, Mamdami ran his campaign on destroying capitalism, statewiderent control, fare-free transit, Palestine solidarity activism, and single-payer healthcare in New York; in other words, anything and everything to dismantle America, starting with the local economy, and of course, going after the Jews.

How do they go about doing it? How does every Socialist and Marxist move their ideology forward? simply by conquering and dividing, by causing division, by highlighting perceived physical and economic differences, by telling you that men can get pregnant, by creating a straw man, a scapegoat. At every point in history, the Jew has been that scapegoat, Antisemitism has always been the opening salvo of a destructive agenda.

Why the Jew? It’s quite simple, the Jewish people make up a fraction of 1% of the worlds’ population, barely 16 million people. As the famous Niemoler quote goes, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”. Is this not exactly where we are today in America, silence, afraid to call it like it is, turning a blind eye as the criminals are lauded and the victims are punished?

The soaring crime rate, the rape, the murder, the defunding of our police, the cashless bail, the CRIME that is so prevalent in ALL of the big cities of America, are the result of turning a blind eye to where it all began, that is, the antisemitic attacks on the Jewish people; it all continues with the hate filled bills such as Bill 6943. Throughout history, the Jewish people and Israel have been under constant attack from their enemies, and are now facing another attack, this time from some New York State legislators. This bill would have a chilling effect on anyone who supports Israel or has any connections to the country and the Jewish people. This bill, 6943, would penalize not-for-profit businesses and organizations for simply exercising their freedom of association and expression, which goes against the very principles of our Republic. Furthermore, this bill is a direct attack on Jewish individuals and their communities, not for their beliefs, but for simply existing.

The world did not speak out when The Squad, Talib, Omar and AOC viciously attacked Israel and the Jewish people, NOTHING, not even a House Censure, and this is the result. Look at where we are standing right now, DO YOU EVEN RECOGNIZE THIS ONCE BEAUTIFUL AND VIBRANT STATE? With few exceptions, No One Spoke Out!

Is this Bill an anomaly? I think not. Remember last year, just a few days ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 28, Assembly Democrats derailed legislation that would examine how well New York public schools are teaching students about the wholesale slaughter of European Jews by Nazi Germany.

When Assemblyman, now Congressman, Mike Lawler tried to push for a resolution titled, “End Jew Hatred Day”, that went nowhere. No sooner did that go down, Menstrual Hygiene Day moved forward…Pure Insanity

When I was a kid, the Holocaust was such a real and living discussion, many of our immediate family perished, __________________…it was reality, my Mom and Grandmother lived through it. I used to think to myself, if only the Christian people would truly have the understanding what it is to be a Jew, to be persecuted. Here we are, many years later, and in fact it’s happened, though not realized. White, Christian males are truly ridiculed and condemned throughout the media and academia. As we see with the soaring lawlessness, they are going after us all, and why? Because we did not speak up…It’s time right now! that’s why we are here at this very moment. Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, this is your historic moment -right now to stand up, to speak out, or simply be relegated to history as those that were too afraid, those that stood by while Rome was burning.

This vicious antisemitism as is Bill 6943, is current and common. In the past week

On May 12th of this year, A CUNY Law School Graduation Speaker and student-activist Fatima Mohammed, sought to connect Israel with the global struggle against white supremacy and colonialism.

Following public pressure, the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School released a copy of its 2023 commencement address.

“Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshipers, murdering the old, the young, attacking the funerals and graveyards as it encourages lynch mobs,” the hate filled law student explained.

As part of her tirade, Mohammed condemned the treatment of “Palestinian political prisoners like Holy Land Foundation in U.S. prisons.” This group, which the State Department designated as a terrorist organization for aiding the Palestinian militant group Hamas, was seeking to pass itself off as a Muslim charity.

“May we rejoice in the corners of our New York City bedroom apartments and dining tables, may it be fuel for the fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism, and Zionism around the world,” Mohammed said during her closing remarks.

Mohammed’s speech comes a year after ____CUNY hosted Nerdeen Kiswani, then the president of the law school’s Students for Justice in Palestine, to give the 2022 commencement address.

Kiswani had previously made several statements calling for violence and the destruction of the state of Israel.

“I’m banned from my homeland for as long as this Zionist settler entity, this organization called Israel, masquerading as a country, continues to exist,” the activist said during one interview on YouTube in 2021. “We had peace before Israel was created, so abolishing Israel is the key to peace.”

Kiswani was also a leader of Within Our Lifetime, a pro-Palestinian organization, that had a member imprisoned on federal charges for assaulting a Jewish man in New York City in 2021. The group openly calls to “globalize the Intifada.”

This group brought Molotov cocktails and instructed members to cover their faces to evade identification and refer to targets as “Zionists” rather than “Jews” to avoid accusations of antisemitism.

“Remember, don’t chant out Jews, it’s the Zionists,” one participant wrote in the group chat before another added later: “F-ck all Jews.”

Is THIS NOT THE SAME RHETORIC OF MAMDANI AND HIS COMRADES? Assemblymember Mamdani knows this and uses these tactics, such as Bill 6943 to claim he and his cohorts are not antisemitic, but rather anti-Israel, in truth, he’s an anarchist looking to not only destroy the Jewish people, but America itself.

ANOTHER Example …Over the past couple of weeks, the Biden administration in its long-awaited report on combating Jew hatred is making a concession to anti-Israel activists by embracing a watered-down definition of anti-Semitism that says “it’s OK to hold the Jewish state to higher standards than other countries”.

The recent announcement is a significant slap in the face to Jews and all decent minded people, many had lobbied the White House to exclusively endorse the stronger International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. While the White House says the United States “has embraced” the IHRA definition, it also praises the conflicting “Nexus” definition, which states that it is not anti-Semitic to denounce Israel’s creation or treat the Jewish state more harshly than other countries.

The IHRA definition contains 11 examples of antisemitism, seven of which relate specifically to rhetoric against Israel. They include: denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, comparing Israel’s policies to the Nazis, and “applying double standards to Israel by expecting of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”

Israel is the biblical and current Jewish homeland, the modern-day answer to the Nazi genocide; and so, when the Israeli government is criticized over its treatment of Palestinians, many Jews and any sane individual clearly understand this as an attack on them.

We Jews feel a sense of unfairness in this libelous criticism, claiming biases such as over-reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to others, coverage oversimplified into aggressor versus victim, a lack of interest in transgressions on the Palestinian side, and the selective outrage of the international haters of the Jew and Israel. Where are the calls by Mamdani and his brethren, to boycott China over the torture of his brethren Muslims, the Uyghurs, Myanmar over the Rohingya, Qatar over its foreign workers, Saudi Arabia over its repression of women and dissidents? No, it’s just Israel, it’s just the Jew that is the recipient of their vitriol.

There are two glaring ironies, one being that it is the Jew that always stands first and foremost to defend the downtrodden. Imagine, the tiniest of minorities, 16 million Jews in the entire world, and yet, we Always defend and support those that cannot defend themselves. What other nation of the world, what Muslim or Arab nation will allow a so called “Palestinian” in to the country to become a citizen, to be a member of the government, the answer is NONE. The only country to welcome the Arab population into the country as voting citizens, to be a member of parliament, is Israel.

The second irony is quite obvious, nearly 60 years ago, in1964, during the “Freedom Summer in Mississippi” two Jewish volunteer students from CUNY’s Queens College, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner, whom along with local activist James Chaney were killed by the Klan while supporting Black Civil Rights. Jews have always been at the forefront of the civil rights movement, where and when will this ever be reciprocated? Believe me, it’s NOT the white supremacists or the Klan creating most of the current antisemitism, it’s the Media, it’s, the Democrat controlled Government, it’s many of the European nations, its Academia, and most of all, it’s the people we Jews stood up, fought and died for. When will the world do the right thing by us? I see every one of my Republican colleagues here standing with me, each and every one immediately signed on to my letter to the Governor. Where is the Governor now, why did only a small fraction of my Democrat Assembly colleagues sign on to their version of a letter denouncing this antisemitic legislation?

What are we going to do?

I along with my colleagues, will be sponsoring Senator Ortt’s bill, S.1528.

The bill would prohibit state contracting with, and state investment in, persons and businesses that promote and engage in activities to boycott American allied nations.

“Allied Nations” under this bill (as specified by the United States Department of State) would include all NATO countries. Ireland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and all signatory countries of the Southeast Asia and RIO treaties.

“Boycott” shall mean to engage in, promote, or encourage any activity that will result in any person to abstain from commercial, social or political relations with any allied nation, companies based in Allied nations, or territories controlled by an allied nation with the intent to penalize, inflict or cause harm to an allied nation, its people or its commercial products.

“Person” shall mean any natural person, corporation, limited liability company, unincorporated association or any non-governmental entity, organization or group.

We call upon the Governor, the Speaker and all Members in the Senate and Assembly to join us in support of this commonsense bill, S1528 and of the Jewish people, Israel and our other allied nations.