NEW YORK When the news broke of the anti-Semitic massacre of 11 law abiding innocent synagogue attendees this past Saturday in Pittsburgh, the all too often immediate reaction was – how could this possibly have happened? And in 2018 and in the United States of all places!
The answers to those questions are all too readily available and uncomplicated.
Whenever the hate rhetoric of anti-Semites is condoned or quietly tolerated, those uttering those vile and threatening words are empowered. That condoning and tolerance epitomizes the intellectual dishonesty of those who choose to be silent, or worse justify their silence. The war cry of the bigots too often and too quickly turns into acts of violence. Make no mistake it is a war. Somehow the civil and human rights of Jews just do not matter.
The week prior to the Pittsburgh massacre, Louis Farrakhan labeled Jews termites (inferring the need for their extermination – the next Holocaust). The great civil libertarians, including President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Congressman Keith Ellison whose commitment to civil and human rights, promotion of peace and tolerance on virtually every other occasion is at the forefront were silent. That silence was deafening! The so-called Jewish leaders too often are nowhere to be found or heard. They are pathetic and they are frauds! Those words are not intended as insults, but rather for identification purposes only!
Sending the totally wrong message to the anti-Semites was having Al Sharpton address a recent event on anti-Semitism in memory of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh massacre.
Al Sharpton, the rabid bigot, who during the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom, incited the rioters to violence against Jews. The very same Al Sharpton who over the years has been legitimized by the media led by MSNBC, the political left and the intellectually dishonest. How soon people chose to ignore his pivotal involvement in the fabricated “rape case” of Tawana Brawley, Freddies Fashion Mart, and the Korean Grocery boycott.
The all too slow and incomplete reaction of government and law enforcement to the Crown Heights Pogrom and murder of Yankel Rosenbaum explains why an anti-Semite had the audacity to brazenly enter the crowded Pittsburgh synagogue and murder 11 innocent Jews! It was Mayor Ed Koch who described the 1991 riots in Crown Heights a pogrom. And it was the State Director of Criminal Justice under Governor Mario Cuomo, Richard Girgenti, who proved it, as documented in his comprehensive 1993 Report. Mayor Dinkins and then NYPD Chief Lee Brown should have been prosecuted for their criminal facilitation of the Pogrom, but were not. After all, which Democrat US prosecutor was ever going to prosecute the first African – American Democrat mayor of New York?
Whether a supporter or critic of President Trump, the one indisputable point he makes is that Washington DC is a swamp and that swamp envelopes the Justice Department. And that is not a point directed at alleged Russian political collusion or untoward political interference.
The sad facts are that the full weight of the law was never brought to bear against the perpetrators of the Crown Heights Pogrom or the murderers of Yankel Rosenbaum. Of the mob of 13, Yankel identified to NYPD officers as his attackers, only Lemerick Nelson and Charles Price were arrested, prosecuted, convicted and did jail time. Cleon Taylor, a minor at the time, had his arrest voided the next day. Nelson and Price could have done more jail time had the Justice Department been interested in achieving maximum justice by appealing the insufficiency of the sentence imposed – the swamp at work!
The powerful legal arguments of Yankel’s Family and their lawyers supporting such an appeal were summarily ignored and discarded into the swamp by the civil servants who did and continue to run the Justice Department. And that was long before President Trump even considered running for office. As for the Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes – inept, with his focus always elsewhere.
Unlike the hate crime murders of Michael Griffith in Howard Beach and Yusef Hawkins in Bensonhurst, for Yankel there was no Special Prosecutor appointed, no investigative taskforce assembled and no rewards whatsoever offered. The inequity is stark and staggering. The message – anti-Semitic violence is and will be tolerated.
As for the remaining 10 who were in the mob that murdered Yankel – it is never too late to prosecute. Finding those ten 27 years after the event – may be the now self-proclaimed reformed Al Sharpton could assist by appealing to his followers and the community at large for their assistance to identify these murderers and ensure the full weight of the law is brought to bear.
As for those whose focus is gun reform, while not in any way denigrating that pursuit, remember the weapon of choice of Yankel’s anti-Semitic murders was a knife – Yankel died from 4 stab wounds to his torso.
Had only there been definitive political and legal responses to the 1991 Crown Heights Pogrom and the murder of Yankel sending an unequivocal message that anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated ever, maybe we would not be speaking today of the 2018 Pittsburgh massacre!
(By Professor Norman Rosenbaum (Melbourne Australia), brother of Yankel, with Isaac Abraham Jewish rights activist)