Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Canarsie, East New York, East Flatbush, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Brighton Beach, Coney Island) yesterday floated a plan to hold 100 dinners across the city with 10 young individuals -anywhere from middle school to college-aged – from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds gathered at the table to combat hate crimes.
The plan came as the borough, city and country are seeing a troubling uptick in anti-Semitic attacks and attacks at other religious institutions.
The proposal’s main goal, purportedly on its way in two months time, is to open communication and foster a better feeling of understanding between people who come from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Adams
Adams said the gathering at dinner tables will help fulfill a great need to bring back a feeling of fellowship amongst the different communities in the city. “We live side by side, we go to the same schools, but the reality is that we’ve been living in these insulated environments and we fail to communicate with one another,” he said.
Also speaking at the announcement of the plan was Rabbi Abe Friedman, a community leader who represented the Hassidic demographic by voicing the fear and panic among religious Jews in the borough. “In the morning we have children who are refusing to go to school because they don’t know what’s going to happen to them. It means that our community is living in fear and that’s unacceptable,” he said.
Adams and Jeffries agreed that although immediate law enforcement is needed to apprehend violent offenders and prevent further attacks, a plan that strikes to the root of the problem by healing the city is vital for long term success. Adams, however, strongly disagreed in having the National Guard brought in to protect some of the religious Jewish communities.
The initiative came on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio launching new crime prevention strategies against anti-Semitism that include increasing NYPD resources and patrols to precincts in Borough Park, Midwood, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg.
“Fearing the next act of terror will not become the new normal for our Jewish neighbors. In New York City, diversity is our strength and we respect the traditions of all who call New York City home. Intolerance will never take hold here,” de Blasio said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) announced he will hold a congressional hearing on Jan. 15 on the rise of anti-Semitic domestic terrorism and the necessary steps to quell it.
Rose was successful in his effort to nearly double the Nonprofit Security Grant Program which provides critical support and protection for nonprofit and religious institutions like synagogues, churches, mosques, and community centers which have increasingly been targets of terrorism.
More locally, City Councilmembers Alicka Ampry-Samuel (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush, Crown Heights in Brooklyn) and Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) both released statements on the new troubling reality of anti-Semitism in the borough, with Ampry-Samuel seeing parallels between anti-Semitism and America’s horrific Jim Crow era following the brutality of slavery where black men, women and children were routinely beaten and lynched.
“To live in a society where the Jewish people must fear for their lives by virtue of having their faith is no different to being black in the south and gunned down in the serenity of Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church,” said Ampry-Samuel. “Hate in my council district, borough, city and country will not be tolerated.”
Cornegy commended the local and federal government who are working to increase protection for targeted communities.
“We are witnessing a troubling rise of anti-Semitism around the globe, and there is an undeniable surge of acts here in New York City. There is a growing trend of insinuations, dog whistles, and more often brazen remarks intended to demean one’s personhood and deny them belonging,” said Cornegy.
“Being identifiably Jewish is not a crime, and New Yorkers deeply value our freedom of worship. I commend the work of the mayor and governor, and local, state, and federal officials who are working to increase protections for a community increasingly the target of ridicule, hate, and violence.”