I was thoroughly dismayed to see an attack on NY City Councilman Chaim Deutsch on a website as valued to our community as Arutz Sheva. Cindy Grosz’s recent OpEd opened by decrying recent anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn, but then took a left turn and singled out Councilman Deutsch, of all people, as a tacit supporter of these acts because his methods of addressing the issue, in her opinion, have been too tepid. Her accusations stretched to Deutsch’s “standing with people” who are anti-Israel, pro-BDS, and pals of Linda Sarsour.” The salvo was so bizarre, I had to read it three times.
In my seven-year tenure as a senior member of Dov Hikind’s staff, Councilman Deutsch was always someone we looked to as an ally in the fight for justice and against anti-Semitism. His methods differed from Hikind’s because they are different people from different backgrounds and different generations. Even our greatest historical champions have often wrangled on precise solutions to Jewish issues. Begin differed with Jabotinsky. Rabbi Kahane differed with Begin.
But it’s not the subtleties of problem-resolution that Grosz is concerned with. It’s the fact that Deutsch is a Democrat, which, to people like her, automatically means a demon, a descendant of Amalek, or, at best, useless.
Someone should educate Grosz to the fact that being a Republican on a legislative body (like the NY City Council or the NY State Assembly) is a recognized exercise in futility. A Republican can’t get an outhouse built in Brooklyn. Why? Because to the victor goes the spoils. Speakers assign committee chairs and dole out budgets. Caucusing with the majority party locally is a sign of pragmatism; it does not necessarily imply acquiescence to the National Party’s planks, or the madness of its fringes.
Grosz writes, “Councilman Deutsch was among a handful of speakers, along with Former Assemblyman Dov Hikind, to address about 250 participants at a rally recently to fight anti-Semitism. Why wasn’t I there, you ask?”
Actually, no one asked. But Grosz tells us anyway: “Because I knew it would accomplish nothing, except embarrass the Jewish community.”
Embarrass how? By its low attendance, Grosz explains. So she stayed away. Instead, she was part of something bigger. “I was lucky enough,” she writes, “to be invited on the pre-Rosh Hashanah White House call where President Trump promised more follow up and action to fighting anti-Semitism.”
Yes, she really wrote that. But let’s give her naïveté the benefit of the doubt. Let’s not tell her that I was invited to be on that call, too, along with a thousand others—some of which who may have even less understanding of politics than Ms. Grosz.
If Ms. Grosz intent is to move the needle on anti-Semitism, she’ll have to do better than taking potshots at a Shomer Shabbos, community-minded public servants like Deutsch, who is liked and respected by his constituents. Indeed, someone should teach her that attacking Jews who are working for the good of the klal is never the answer to anti-Semitism.
Yehudah Meth is the former Deputy Chief of Staff to retired NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.