My Three Riots

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As England crumbles from riots, I am taken back to the three riots in the early ’90s that affected me in one way or another, one of whose twentieth anniversary occurs this weekend. These memories are particularly important as the Shomrim local civilian patrol is criticized in the media (see here: I, II, III, IV).

The first riot I witnessed was in Teaneck in 1990 after a white police officer shot an unarmed black boy (I). On the last day of Passover, as Jews walked home from synagogue, many passed the police station/library parking lot where a candlelight vigil for the boy turned into a riot. After havdalah, we turned on the news to see rioters overturning police cars in the parking lot and looters stealing from the video store on Teaneck Road, just a few blocks away. The next day, we saw the wreckage — property damaged and businesses destroyed, some permanently. I don’t believe the video store ever reopened under its owner at the time. Supposedly, Al Sharpton had bussed in troublemakers who rioted, although I’m not sure whether that was just a local rumor spread to deflect blame. Regardless, the riot caused real damage without yielding any positive outcome.

I was in college in Washington Heights during the 1992 Rodney King riots. It spilled over from LA to New York but by the time it reached all the way uptown from Harlem, it had largely subsided. I have never seen the Yeshiva University security guards as scared as they were that Friday evening, unsure whether they would be forced to defend the school against rioters. Even the local Dominican population seemed scared, fleeing inside rather than occupying the streets as they normally did on a Friday night. As I walked from synagogue to a friend for dinner, someone (Dominican) yelled at me, “Get the Whitey.” As I started to run, he apologized for joking but warned me to get off the streets, which I did as quickly as humanly possible.

And then there was Crown Heights (I). Rudy Giuliani is not, to me, the mayor who brought NY together after 9/11. He will always be the US Attorney and mayoral candidate who strongly supported the Jewish community after the Crown Heights riot. As a college-aged camp counselor in the Catskills during the summer of 1991, I had no idea what was going on in the world. There were no cellphones and the world wide web did not yet exist. I spent my free time at nights studying Talmud, not listening to the radio. I recall hearing from one of the rabbis that the Soviet Union was collapsing and that piece of news occupied the little part of my brain I was willing to set aside for politics that summer.

When I returned home, not long after the Crown Heights riots, I learned about the horror. Jews cowering in their homes as hundreds of blacks roamed the streets, screaming “Death to the Jews,” beating any white person or Jew they could find and even going into homes and beating people. All the while, the police were ordered to stand back and do nothing (see these two stories in the current issue of The Jewish Week: I, II).

I remember as a child learning about the Holocaust and being scared it would happen in the US. I removed from my little room in suburbia every identifiably Jewish object, scattering them around the house so no one would know, thinking that this might allow me to plausibly deny Jewishness if the Nazis ever came to my room. Silly, but true. Years later, I saw this fear come true as blacks went house to house in Crown Heights, attempting to break in and attack Jews. Only one person was killed in the riots — Yankel Rosenbaum — but thousands were terrorized. This was the narrative I heard through the Jewish grapevine, occasionally verified by a journalist but usually absent from the news. Under guidance from the feckless Mayor Dinkins, the police stood back and let the rioters control the Jewish neighborhood. No, we are not talking about Czarist Russsia or Nazi Germany. This was Brooklyn in 1991!

A year later, as 911 transcripts became available from the riots, the helplessness of the Crown Heights Jews became even more evident. Consider this, from an article this week: “They have just come in through the door and they’re attacking my wife! … They’re storming in through the windows — they’re breaking the windows!” This went on for a few days in New York City, just twenty years ago.

The Crown Heights riots were a formative event in my life. A few weeks later, a big rally was held by the Jewish community in Crown Heights. Already back in school, I asked my respected teacher, R. Mayer Twersky, whether I could miss Talmud class (shi’ur) to attend the rally. It took immense courage for me to make that request. R. Twersky is an uncompromising Talmudist who never sets aside Torah learning. The rumor was that he never even went to engagement parties because it detracted from his studies, which led to his students never inviting him. Yet I felt so strongly the need to go that I asked. To my surprise, he said that I should attend if I thought it was important. And I did.

Rudy Giuliani spoke at the rally and displayed unqualified support for the victims of the riots. He consistently denounced the riots and anyone who allowed them to happen. He was one of the rays of hope in that dark time, a lone voice of sanity in that crazy world of New York politics. Since that time, I vote for Rudy at every possible opportunity. If he ran for chief rabbi, I’d probably still vote for him. In my book, few people rate higher than Rudy Giuliani, for his support of a scared community whose suffering was being denied by the highest political forces of the time.

Among the lessons I learned from the Crown Heights riots is the importance of the Constitutional right to bear arms. If a rioting mob comes down my block, I reserve the right to head to my roof with an assault rifle and protect my family (see this post about Bernard Goetz: link). The police force has greatly improved in the past twenty years but we have no guarantee it will protect us. They failed us when we needed them most. We have to be able to protect ourselves in case we have another leader like Dinkins who turns a blind eye to rioters targeting us.

Shomrim, to some degree, fills the role in our community that the police may not be able or willing to take. It may not be a perfect organization but it is not made up of hoodlums. Its members aren’t armed but they are organized and in a crisis they have the tools and experience to coordinate some sort of civilian defense. We should welcome constructive criticism of the organization which will help it improve. It seems to me that the Jewish Week‘s criticism is of that nature and therefore a contribution to the organization and the community. Undermining the organization is not an option. We cannot return to the way we were in 1991, completely dependent on the New York government which entirely failed us.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

69 comments

  1. Abba's Rantings

    “Shomrim, to some degree, fills the role in our community that the police may not be able or willing to take.”

    is shomrim really set up as a jewish defense organization? i thought it was anti-crime initiative? (obviously rioting against jews is “criminal” but you know what i mean)

  2. One of your best posts ever! The personal ones are always appreciataed, but this time you outdid yourself.

    I can’t begin to describe to you and your readers the euphoria I experienced when Rudy beat Dinkins for Mayor.

  3. Abba: It’s probably my wishful thinking. Truth is that Lubavitchers had some sort of Shomrim back then and it didn’t help.

    I was weighing whether to include my opinion that the Lubavitcher Rebbe bears a little blame for the riots. He’s the reason the Lubavitchers didn’t eave the neighborhood as it turned into a slum, like all the other sensible Jews did. Even now, after over a decade of improvement, it is stil a crime-ridden, drug-infested neighborhood.

  4. A Little Sanity

    “I reserve the right to head to my roof with an assault rifle and protect my family”

    Just an assault rifle? I say, let’s give our boys machine guns instead of seforim for their bar mitzvahs. And no Jewish home should be without a flamethrower and a little Napalm, in case the barbarians outside are too numerous to be felled by mere bullets. After that, survivalist training, perhaps.

    Of course, there is the small potential problem that the blacks, the Dominicans and the hundreds of other ethnic groups that may come en masse at any moment to attack us may similarly arm themselves, which may lead to a rather sticky wicket. (They do outnumber us, technically.) No matter. With our training in lamdus, they will be no match.

    Then, again, I have heard rumors that we Jews have among us, like any other group, some people who are, shall we say, a little off of kilter mentally. A gun can be pointed in multiple directions, you know. Feh, what are the chances? Let us beat our shtenders into rifle butts, and our silverware into machetes, that every man may sit behind his barbed wire, and none shall make him afraid.

  5. “completely dependent on the New York government which entirely failed us.”

    The New York government has done very well by us in Riverdale. It provides security for synagogues (often with officers pulled from parts of the Bronx with higher crime rates), busted the four men who wanted to blow up two synagogues here (I was 1/2 block away when the bust was made), and directed a search for a man who went missing on the second day of Shavuot. When the man was located, the NYPD officers were invited into the synagogue the man attended and were given a standing ovation. Crime has declined just as much as in frum areas of Brooklyn, but without Shomrim.

  6. I was an eyewitness to a riot once:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Virginia_Beach#1989:_.22Greekfest.22_riots

    I was more afraid of the police than of the rioters. I have not been back to Virginia Beach since.

  7. I like how someone who writes a post like that can title himself “A Little Sanity”. The style alone is unhinged, whether or not you agree with the content.

    Of course, it’s always depressing to see a Jew living after the Holocaust and during the existence of the State of Israel write something like that, not that it’s uncommon. Cue Dr. Charles Hall to arrive with “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    “unarmed black boy”

    According to the very link you provide, that’s about one-third true.

    I remember the riots in Washington Heights when a policeman was killed with a bucket of spackle. I think it was right before the school year, though.

    Gil, of all things to criticize the Rebbe, even in relation to the riots, I’d rank that one about last. Moving is never really an option here.

  8. A, meret fun malach kumt a galach…Charlie, you never lived in New York before Giuliani, right? You have no idea how bad it was, especially under a racist mayor.

  9. “The importance of the right to bear arms.” You are fooling yourself. If it comes down to you defending your family from the roof (BTW where do you think you’re going to get an assault rifle? and learn how to use it?)you are in big trouble.
    There is no excuse for Jews to cower in their homes in Crown Heights while the blacks rampage and shout “kill the Jews”. There is no excuse because there is one place in the world where they can and should bear arms to protect themselves and their people veidach zil gemor. We are in the time of ikveta d’meshicha but Rudy Giuliani is not our savior

  10. Your three riots are three reasons (among many others) for mass Aliyah to Israel.

    Here, it’s only the Hareidim that riot. A significant Aliyah would dramatically alter the political landscape and bring some sanity!

  11. Yeah, because Jews are never dragged from their homes en masse in Israel. There are good reasons to make aliyah. Safety isn’t one of them.

  12. “You have no idea how bad it was, especially under a racist mayor.”

    Do you mean Lindsay, Beame or Koch? 🙂

  13. “Crime in New York City was high in the 1980s during the Mayor Edward I. Koch years, as the crack epidemic hit New York City, and peaked in 1990,[2] the first year of Mayor David Dinkins’ administration (1990–1994). During the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994–2002), there was a precipitous drop in crime in his first term, continuing at a slower rate in both his second term and under Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002–present). Many commentators have suggested that the New York City Police Department’s adoption of CompStat, broken windows policing, and other strategies during the administration of Rudolph Giuliani were responsible for the drop in crime, some studies argued that the dramatic reduction in crime was strongly correlated with the increases in the number of police officers that started under Mayor Dinkins and continued through the Giuliani administration.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_New_York_City#Riots_and_Massacres

    P.S. It wasn’t that hot in the ’60s and ’70s either. I grew up on the UWS where people e in our circle were regularly mugged. Remember “Death Wish” (filmed on the block of the, then, newly moved MDS)?

  14. IH, you know full well who I meant. It was pretty miserable under those other guys too, but none of them would have allowed what Dinkins did for, let’s be honest, racial reasons. I’m not saying that Dinkins (who, incidentally, and like many in the African-American political leadership in New York, probably has lighter skin than me) was anti-white. But he was certainly pro-black in a racist way.

    Gil, that’s a loathsome comparison to make. But if it makes you feel better, cool.

  15. My mistake: Lindsay would have allowed it.

  16. “My mistake: Lindsay would have allowed it.”

    Odious comment.

  17. “Charlie, you never lived in New York before Giuliani”

    I moved to NYC in 2001.

  18. “There are good reasons to make aliyah. Safety isn’t one of them.”

    Actually, Israel’s homicide rate is less than half that of the United States.

  19. “Israel’s homicide rate is less than half that of the United States.”

    The homicide rate in Canada is a bit less than Israel, and the homicide rates in France and the UK are a 2/3 that of Israel.

  20. Charlie: I believe the result will be different if you compare homicide rates of *Jewish neighborhoods* in Israel and the US.

  21. NACHUM:

    “especially under a racist mayor”

    do you really think he was racist? does being pro-black make him a racist anymore than being than being pro-jewish makes the local jewish politicians racist?
    (he should burn in hell for crown heights, but i’m not convinced he was a racist and i don’t recall him otherwise being an anti-semite.)

    CHARLIE HALL:

    spare us your typical gushing comments about riverdale. yes, it is very nice there, but visit the rest of the city once in a while and open your eyes.

    for example: “The New York government has done very well by us in Riverdale. It provides security for synagogues”

    yes, because you have how many shuls in riverdale? there are blocks in brooklyn with more shuls than you have in all of riverdale.

    DAVID TZHOHAR:

    “BTW where do you think you’re going to get an assault rifle? and learn how to use it?”

    rifles (restricted to certain types), shotguns and handgunds (10 rounds or less) are legal in nyc if you don’t have a criminal record or psychiatric history and can afford a few hundred bucks and some bureaucratic hassle for the license.

    GIL:

    good post.
    i don’t recall giuliniani’s support for crown heights. but what i’ll never forget is how he refused to welcome arafat to nyc and had kicked out of a carnegie hall (or lincoln center?) concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UN where the world’s leaders were in attendance. he took a lot of flack from the NYT, then president clinton and even koch for so treating a nobel peace laureate.

  22. ” I believe the result will be different if you compare homicide rates of *Jewish neighborhoods* in Israel and the US.”

    You’ve just made a claim that is basically unverifyable, because nobody has collected statistics on “Jewish neighborhoods”. Other than Kiryas Joel and New Square, which are not typical of Jewish neighborhoods in the US, I’m not aware of any “Jewish neighborhood” that corresponds precisely with the boundary of a governmental unit for which data are collected.

    Besides, we don’t just stay within our own neighborhoods. I work in the Bronx three days a week and in Brooklyn two days a week, and I go through Manhattan on the way to Brooklyn. I would certainly be interested in crime where I work and on the subways even though they aren’t “Jewish neighborhoods”.

    Then you have places like Paris, France, where Jews live all over the city, not necessarily in identified Jewish neighborhoods.

  23. “visit the rest of the city once in a while and open your eyes.”

    I spend a lot of time in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and also work at the other side of the Bronx. See my previous post. I’m recognized in minyans in three boroughs. My wife has also worked in every borough other than Staten Island within the past five years.

    “yes, because you have how many shuls in riverdale? there are blocks in brooklyn with more shuls than you have in all of riverdale.”

    What is the average membership of shuls in Brooklyn?

  24. “unarmed black boy”
    According to the very link you provide, that’s about one-third true.

    Black = true
    Boy = 14 yo teenager. we’ll call it true
    unarmed = he was carrying a modified starters pistol

    So we’ll give Gil 2 out of 3 – Sounds good to me.

  25. Yes but at the time of the riots, all people knew was: “Spath said he thought Pannell had a gun and was turning to shoot him. Many witnesses said Pannell was unarmed and had been shot in the back.”

  26. Charlie: You’ve just made a claim that is basically unverifyable, because nobody has collected statistics on “Jewish neighborhoods”.

    It may be currently unverifiable but it is certainly more meaningful than comparing national statistics that include the worst neighborhoods that Jews never visit.

  27. “If a rioting mob comes down my block, I reserve the right to head to my roof with an assault rifle and protect my family”

    And do what? Indiscriminately fire into the crowd with a weapon that is probably illegal for a civilian to own in most jurisdictions, and almost certainly New York City?

    I think the better approach was taken by the Lubavitch Chassidim who worked hard at improving community relations.

  28. Charlie Hall,
    I think the socio-economic status of Riverdale gives it different position from Crown Heights in the eyes of NYC government and NYPD.

  29. “…than comparing national statistics that include the worst neighborhoods…”.

    True for Israel, France and the UK as well. I.e. geographic spread of violent crime is not a normal distribution, so the average is only useful for trending purposes.

  30. Great post! Mayor Giulani will always be regarded as somone who was a friend of the NYC Jewish community, a great friend of Israel, and someone who tamed what had been hitherto deemed an ungovernable city.

    Some history is in order here. I agree that Lindsay’s ivory tower liberal approach of walking the streets ala RFK and appeasing violence and rioters, making the NYPD do their work with their hands tied behind their back via such notions as a Civilian Police Review Board, his failure to respond to a major blizzard in the outer boroughs and his presiding over the destruction of the NYC public schools in the name of “community control” would have easily gone hand in hand with his attempt to build a low income housing project in Forest Hills, all of which were evidence of his governing style, were no different than the tolerant view placed on the pogroms in Crown Heights by the Dinkins administration.

    FWIW, I also remember a city that was so cowed by fear during the Rodney King riots that the business and financial centers of NYC simply closed early so that working people could get home at an early hour. Beame was a hack Democrat who allowed the municipal spending to reach the point where the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. Koch attempted to restore order, but the rise of the drug plague, and the inundation of the city with the same and AIDs, also wrecked havoc on the city’s municipal services, especially HHC, which Giulani attempted unsuccessfully to privatize.

  31. Steve,

    The REALLY disastrous Lindsay policy wasn’t walking streets, it was budget cuts to public safety that were disproportionately targeted towards poor neighborhoods — including Jewish neighborhoods.

    Municipal and state spending in NY had been out of control for at least a generation, thanks in good part to Robert Moses and Nelson Rockefeller. Beame came in at the tail end of the disaster; he wasn’t part of the solution, but he didn’t create the problem. We can all be thankful that the late Hugh Carey, whose funeral was yesterday, was elected governor in 1974.

  32. ” the worst neighborhoods that Jews never visit.”

    I’ve seen plenty of guys with yarmulkes in the worst neighborhoods in the Bronx. My wife used to practice medicine in some of them.

  33. The really, really disastrous polices of the Lindsay years were the cave-ins to the municipal unions. We’ll still paying the price, and will for generations.

  34. CHARLIE HALL:

    “What is the average membership of shuls in Brooklyn?

    are you kidding? you think every shul in brooklyn is a basement shtiebel? the main bobov shul alone probably has more mispalelim than riverdale’s shuls together. (yes, it’s not hard for the police to patrol every shul riverdale when you only have 4 or 5.)

    again, all i can recommend to you is to get out of riverdale once in a while.

  35. Elliot Passik:

    “Indiscriminately fire into the crowd with a weapon . . .”

    1) i thought it was clear from gil’s statement that he was referring to a rioting mob that threatened his home and family, not just a crowd running down the block

    2) i remember seeing news clips from the LA riots of asian store owners on the roofs shooting down. guess which stores were spared the most damage.

    “probably illegal for a civilian to own in most jurisdictions, and almost certainly New York City?”

    the federal assault rifle ban grandfathered in all previously manfactured assault rifles, and in any case the law expired in 2004. in most jurisdiction you’re ok today (e.g., NJ). some local goverments did indeed extend the ban, including nyc. however, even in nyc, non-assault rifles, shotguns and handguns are pefectly legal and can all be used for home defense as described by gil.

    (i’m not a lawyer, but i’m pretty sure what i wrote is accurate.)

    3) it is patently false that

  36. Charlie: I believe the result will be different if you compare homicide rates of *Jewish neighborhoods* in Israel and the US.

    I believe Jewish neighborhoods in Israel have lower homicide rates than Arab neighborhoods, and most killings among Jews results from battles between organized crime factions, rather than targeting of innocent bystanders.

  37. “(he should burn in hell for crown heights, but i’m not convinced he was a racist and i don’t recall him otherwise being an anti-semite.)”

    Mayor Dinkins got along well with Jews as Manhattan Boro Pres-I don’t believe he is anti-semitic-two big blemishes on his mayoralty7, the Korean Grocer fiasco where he din’t enforce the law and Crown Heights.
    Showed no more racism than BHO and the Cambridge incident.
    BHO is not anti-semitic either-he is more pro palestinian and pro Moslem than any prior American prez.

  38. Check out http://www.yeshivatheatid.org

    The future of Yeshiva education!

  39. I read the article on Yeshivat He’Atid in our local Jewish newspaper and was impressed by the seriousness, research and effort of those starting the school, their responsiveness to the community and the press, and their innovative educational thinking. My only suggestion would be that they stop patting themselves on the back so early in the process before they taight a single student (e.g., our way of teaching is “superior” to those of the other schools). It was the one thing that grated on me in what I otherwise thought appears to be an important addition to Bergen County’s Jewish education resources.

  40. “Elliot Pasik on August 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm
    The really, really disastrous polices of the Lindsay years were the cave-ins to the municipal unions. We’ll still paying the price, and will for generations”

    Are you more upset that the Transit Workers under Quill in their strike the first day of the Lindsay administration when he thoughtthat he could beat the unions and was upset at Wagner’s easy relationship-or are you more upset at the teachers strike under Al Shanker which probably more than anything e;lse was responsible for the great increase in teachers wages nationwide-they clearly earn more than most with equivalent average SAT/GRE scores.

    NOte before Mayor L unions got theri major boost.

    1954-1965
    Mayoral authorization of unionism and bargaining rights for employees; informal negotiation
    of labor agreements; growth of municipal employee unionism.

  41. Shlomo on August 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm
    “Charlie: I believe the result will be different if you compare homicide rates of *Jewish neighborhoods* in Israel and the US.

    I believe Jewish neighborhoods in Israel have lower homicide rates than Arab neighborhoods, and most killings among Jews results from battles between organized crime factions, rather than targeting of innocent bystanders”
    I believe that it is not easy as in the US for an Israeli who lives in Israel-not the territories- to get a permit to carry weapons. I may be wrong.

  42. ““My mistake: Lindsay would have allowed it.”

    Odious comment.”

    Actually, there *was* a similar incident under Lindsay, early 70’s. Very similar circumstances- black kid ran out from between cars, hit by chassid, two days of anti-Jewish riots, police do nothing.

    That Joseph Kaplan can instinctively rise to his defense- and that some Jews could have dedicated a “Gan Lindsay” in Jerusalem- just goes to show how much of the leftist kool-aid has been drunk.

  43. Pretty convenient, Nachum, suddenly *remembering* this riot where, under Lindsay, the police allegedly did nothing. I don’t remember it but I don’t remember lots these days. But an extensive Google search turned up nothing about this. So perhaps you can give us some support other than your memory. Because, quite frankly, the memory of an “instinctive” liberal basher isn’t good enough. Who knows; maybe your memory has been damaged by some of the conservative kool-aid you drink; same product, different flavor.

  44. Nah, not so much my conservative leanings as my Kahanist ones.

  45. The big piece that you are missing from the Ari Goldman article is that the Times lied and maintained a story line for two years without a scintilla of evidence!

    The Shabbos after the riots started I had friends from CH taking refuge in my Flatbush. The Flatbush Jewish community did not know what was going on in Crown Heights. We went to see Rav Pam in Kennsington, he did not know what was going on in Crown Heights. Rioters were being recruited over the Public airwaves from across the city (no mention of this in the Media). The Jews were marginalized with few friends (Al D’Amato,Ed Koch and few more).
    I tried to get the word out to out of town communities to little avail.

  46. It should be pointed out that at the very same time (August 19-21), there was something of an Earth-shaking coup going on in the dying Soviet Union. The national news, at least, had other fish to fry, understandably.

  47. Speaking of the London riots, I was startled watching a news clip, as the camera panned past the odious looters and what not, of what appeared to a couple of rioting Charedim (or Chasidim?). It was only for a second or so and I wasn’t sure I had actually seen what I’d seen, but then confirmed in a subsequent viewing where I was focusing a bit more. The charedim didn’t seem to be looting in the clip, just kind of charging around the street towards and from police (amidst much other company), possibly throwing things and seemingly having a helluva good time. Happily, none of the news reporters remarked the unusual (to me anyway) composition of the rioting crowd. Has there been any reporting about the behavior of some components of the London jewish community through these events? I haven’t seen anything like that reported in the usual jewish publications.

  48. lawrence kaplan

    Mechy: Let’s be melamed zechus. There are so few avenues for Haredi youth to have a good time.

  49. It was reported in passing and, of course, immediately siezed upon as proof of the “anti-Semitic” media in the UK.

    http://cifwatch.com/2011/08/08/guardian-report-on-london-riots-omits-the-race-or-ethnicity-of-rioters-but-still-mentions-jews/

  50. IH wrote:

    “It was reported in passing and, of course, immediately siezed upon as proof of the “anti-Semitic” media in the UK.”

    Let’s be realistic-Anthony Julius’s Trial of The Diaspora completely nailed that issue. Claiming otherwise IMO is apolgetics writ large.

  51. “at the very same time (August 19-21), there was something of an Earth-shaking coup going on in the dying Soviet Union.”

    I was backpacking in the West Virginia wilderness at that time. I had no contact with the outside world.

  52. “I was startled watching a news clip, as the camera panned past the odious looters and what not, of what appeared to a couple of rioting Charedim (or Chasidim?). It was only for a second or so and I wasn’t sure I had actually seen what I’d seen, but then confirmed in a subsequent viewing where I was focusing a bit more. The charedim didn’t seem to be looting in the clip, just kind of charging around the street towards and from police (amidst much other company), possibly throwing things and seemingly having a helluva good time.”

    I noticed the same thing-certainly the news reporters in NY where at least a couple of the news agencies are located would have noticed it too.

    ” Happily, none of the news reporters remarked the unusual (to me anyway) composition of the rioting crowd.”
    To meits unusual-but I remember from H Grinsteins course on American Jewish histroy ofthe Jewish riots in NYC and what poluicethoght of them decades ago.

    ” Has there been any reporting about the behavior of some components of the London jewish community through these events? I haven’t seen anything like that reported in the usual jewish publications.”

    Haven’t noticed either.

  53. By the way, the next week I bought all three newsmagazines to read about the coup. Only US News mentioned Crown Heights, in a small article.

  54. There are no excuses for rioting and looting, but it’s a mistake to deny that there are reasons. Simply asserting that one group or another has “no background” or are simply “criminals,” is a form of denial and often a result of class, ethnic or racial prejudice. The riots in England apparently were sparked by a racial incident but were participated in by every race, ethnic and economic group). Any casual relationship between the death of the young black man is denied. Similarly, your comment seems to deny that the black residents of Crown Heights had any cause for anger. Your narrative focuses solely on your own feelings of fear and abandonment by authorities.

    However, the non-Jewish residents, especially the black residents of Crown Heights have a narrative as well.

    My husband and I visited Crown Heights in early 1991. As shomer Shabbat members of a small Chabad community in San Francisco we were very conscious of the separatism in Crown Heights and some outright overt racism. We were shocked by he use of the term “schwartzers” accompanied almost always by facial expressions and voice tone indicating contempt among otherwise polite and considerate people.

    This overt expression of contempt, along with the perception that the Chabad community received special preferential treatment from the local government undoubtedly created festering resentments that were ignored out of ignorance or unconcern by the Jewish Community in Crown Heights. The perceptions for Chabad’s favored states may have been justified. It was exemplified by by the loud siren sounding every Friday at candle lighting time and frequent street closures for Jewish events. Moreover, most politicians felt it necessary to court the vote of Chabad residents by visiting the Rebbe during their election campaigns.

    It doesn’t really matter whether these perceptions of favoritism and prejudice were justified. They gave rise to a sense of injustice, a sense that the life of a black child was considered less valuable than that of a Jewish Child. When the little boy was killed by the car in which the Rebbe was riding, word went out very quickly that the car did not stop, but sped away. Also, word spread that the private ambulance service maintained by the Chabad community would not take the injured child to a hospital. Again, truth or falsity doesn’t matter.

    Anna DeVeare Smith’s Fires in the Mirror presents the contrasting and contradictory narratives of members of both the Jewish and the Gentile communities The viewpoints are not objective. But that’s precisely the point. We must not, we cannot ignore or dismiss any narrative that is contrary to our own recollection of view of events.

    Acknowledging the existence of narratives other than our own is crucial if we are to live in peace and with even a modicum of security.

  55. Ruchama: I agree with you but that doesn’t change anything for me. I don’t blame a rape victim for dressing provocatively even if she did.

  56. Ruchama: Much of what you say is true. But that does not change the fact that whatever the Jewish community of Crown Heights thought of the African-American community, they were not looting their stores, breaking into their homes, and injuring their members. Part of the African-American narrative can be that the Jews did not respect us and had racist thoughts about us but it cannot be that there were clashes between Jews and African-Americans as if both sides were fighting and both sides were attacking the other. That may be a narrative, but it is fiction. That simply did not happen according to anyone’s recollection of the events.

  57. Actually, Ruchama, Crown Heights is heavily populated by blacks of Caribbean origins (who have their own street closings, by the way). The rioters were heavily African-Americans who came in (bused in) from elsewhere. So your whole post sort of falls apart.

  58. Gil, your excellent post is an elaboration of R. Meir Kahane a”h’s slogan of some 40-odd years ago:

    “Every Jew a .22”

  59. And Jabotinsky’s adaptation of “Oyfen Pripetchik” (“Young Jew, get a gun!”) from forty years before then. (R’ Kahane cites that.)

  60. And since Kahane was a racist (as defined by Israeli law), he represents an elaboration of other dimensions of this post as well.

  61. IH: let’s be fair – 1. the Israeli law definition was a cynical ploy to knock out a political threat.

    2. What is remotely racist in a post about self-defense in the absence of appropriate policing?

  62. Ah, the Left. Everything- even the definition of simple words- is left to the government, and the government has the final word. No wonder the West is going to hell in a handbasket.

  63. Nachum — Kahane was a racist. The fact that both the Knesset and the Israeli Supreme Court confirmed this just makes it more than a da’at yachid. Around the time of my Ayn Rand phase, I was also smitten with Kahane’s “Never Again”. I outgrew both by the end of High School.

    Avi — Racism and anti-Semitism — two sides of the same coin — were integral to the events described in the posting.

  64. IH, you must be very proud of your sophistication.

    And how, exactly, was racism “integral” to these events?

  65. Nachum — it was a fair response to your comment of 8:49 am. If you can’t take it back, don’t dish it out 🙂

  66. IH-Like it or not, the Jigh Court of Justice has a well deserved reputation as a Jim Crow court which protects the interests of the secular Ashkenazi world. It has expressed itself in very hostile tones to the interests of Charedim, settlers and even the Defense Ministry, when as Professor Gavison noted, it really had no business or expertise in doing so. The Knesset represents the vocal nature of Israeli democracy, and all of the log rolling and trade offs between various constituencies in Israel, but it is well known that Oslo I was passed via a combo of the Left, Shas and Arab parties.

    Nachum’s 8:49 post was merely the reiteration of a classical conservative idea-which, of course, is foreign to the denizens of the left, regardless of the people’s socialist republic that is the hallmark of their orientation, regardless whether located in the US, Europe or Israel.

  67. “Nachum’s 8:49 post was merely the reiteration of a classical conservative idea-which, of course, is foreign to the denizens of the left, regardless of the people’s socialist republic that is the hallmark of their orientation, regardless whether located in the US, Europe or Israel.”

    Surprise!. The “mere recitation of conservative thought” (Nachum’s hyperbole aside), does not constitute slam dunkedness to those who are not conservative. (I leave aside your characterizations of “denizens of the left.”)

  68. Unfortunately, apologetics for the political and historical records of socialism, communism and the equally poor economic record of state strangled economies illustrates a basic fact. Opposition to the idea of free minds and free markets, still run rampant among the denizens of the left, whether in Israel or the US. Why else would a prominent NYT columnist champion China’s political system in comparison and contrast with the US?

  69. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Nachum’s 8:49 post was merely the reiteration of a classical conservative idea-which, of course, is foreign to the denizens of the left, regardless of the people’s socialist republic that is the hallmark of their orientation, regardless whether located in the US, Europe or Israel.”

    Surprise!. The “mere recitation of conservative thought” (Nachum’s hyperbole aside), does not constitute slam dunkedness to those who are not conservative. (I leave aside your characterizations of “denizens of the left.”)”

    No one ever said conservatism constituted an intellectual “slam dunk.” However, whatever happened to the intellectually pluralistic notion that an opposing argument at least deserves to be treated with the banner of openness and objectivity that its opponents wrap themselves in. All too often , denizens of the left fail to even consider the merits of conservative rooted arguments.

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