U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Brownsville East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Prospect Lefferts Gardens) yesterday began to address a touchy subject – that a majority of the recent alleged anti-Semitic attacks in the Crown Heights section of her district involves black youth physically assaulting religious Jews.
The neighborhood was the scene of the 1991 Crown Heights riot in which black residents turned against Orthodox Jewish Chabad residents, who occupy a section of Crown Heights and live among their mainly black neighbors on surrounding streets. The three-day riot left one Orthodox Jew dead and several orthodox Jews severely injured.
The riots began after two children of Guyanese immigrants were accidentally struck by one of the cars in the motorcade of the late Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the former leader and architect of the Chabad Jewish religious movement. One child died and the second was severely injured.
Clarke made her comments at a press conference announcing that Congress increased funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to provide critical help in improving security and safety at such high-risk institutions throughout New York including synagogues, mosques, churches, and community centers which have increasingly been targets of terrorism.
The press conference was held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan and many of the questions centered around the massive upswing of anti-Semitic attacks happening to religious Jews in their homes and on the streets.
Clarke anchored in on trying to resolve the issue by inculcating the youth with a greater appreciation for the diversity that makes up this city.
“I think we all owe it to one another to interact with our children in a way that they understand and recognize the collective humanity that makes our community so rich, and NYC so very special. I think we’ve fallen short in that regard. That’s a front line we have to establish because anti-semitism cannot grow in our city. Especially not in the place I call home,” said Clarke.
When probed further on the issue of growing attacks in the Crown Heights area perpetrated largely by young African American individuals, Clarke stated:
“I can’t speak for what their motivations are. If we put it into the context of the historical persecution of the Jews, then there will be a widening of the aperture. I don’t know if they go around saying I hate Jews and therefore I will attack Jews. I think some are saying these are individuals who live in a space I am not familiar with and they seem more vulnerable to a violent attack. This just maybe one way of thinking.”
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D- Bedford-Stuyvesant, Canarsie, East New York, Ocean Hill, East Flatbush, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Brighton Beach, Coney Island), who also represents a diverse district, closed the conference with a strong demand directed to anyone who might be considering carrying out an anti-Semitic attack.
“Cut it out. You will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. You will be ostracized, you will be punished, and you will be held accountable. Cut it out,” said Jeffries.