Thursday, May 30, 2024

Anti-Semite Bids for a Brooklyn Congressional Seat

It is hard to believe that an unapologetic black racist would be given a real chance to win one of New York's congressional seats, let alone one which represents Jewish communities such as Seagate, Manhattan Beach and Mill Basin. Yet that has become a real possibility as New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries takes on City Councilman Charles Barron, who has become notorious in New York City politics for his outrageously anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. Barron was an early partner of Al Sharpton's divisive rabble rousing activities against the Jewish community, even before the deadly Crown Heights riots in 1991, which Barron blamed on the Chassidic Jews living there.

In more recent years, Barron has participated in a public effort to bring aid to Hamas by breaking Israel’s embargo on shipments to Gaza, and he has denounced Israel for practicing terrorism.


Barron seems to revel in creating controversy, and never apologizes for his most outrageous statements which are anti-American in addition to being openly anti-Semitic. As a result, most respectable members of the New York City Council and other local political leaders have refused to have any public dealings with him.


Barron and Jeffries are facing off for the seat being vacated by longtime Congressman Ed Towns in a June 26 Democrat primary, which is tantamount to election in that newly drawn majority-black congressional district.


Towns, who has represented parts of Brooklyn in Congress since 1983, has been known as a friend of Israel and his Jewish constituencies which at one time included parts of the religious communities of Williamsburg and Midwood. His district’s lines were redrawn once again in March by a court-appointed magistrate in response to the 2010 census, which required a reduction in the number of congressmen from New York State from 29 to 27.


Towns had hoped to run for one more term in the new 8th Congressional District before retiring from Congress but he was pressured to step down immediately by Brooklyn Democrat Party chairman Vito Lopez, who has been supporting Jeffries’ bid to take over the seat in January.


Previously, Barron and Towns had been longtime political enemies. In 2006, when Barron challenged Towns for the Democrat nomination to his seat in Congress, Barron called him “a disaster.” He also attacked the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Towns had once chaired, calling them “political punks.” Towns responded by calling Barron “a bomb-thrower.”




But after he found himself forced to retire from Congress prematurely, Towns decided to take his political revenge on both Jeffries and Lopez by endorsing Barron instead of Jeffries for the congressional seat he is giving up.


Barron has also received the endorsement of the politically influential District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employees union, which apparently doesn’t care about anything else in this race but its own political best interests.


Jeffries has received the support of the city’s Democrat political organization, and several local unions. He enjoys a considerable fundraising advantage over Barron in the race.


In sharp contrast to Barron, Jeffries has spoken out in support of Israel, particularly after having visited there in 2008 under the sponsorship of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council. Jeffries also has Jewish campaign volunteers concentrating on reaching out with his pro-Israel message to voters in the Jewish communities in the congressional district.


However, Barron’s twin endorsements from Towns and DC 37 have turned his candidacy from a joke into a serious threat, especially in a primary which is likely to have a very low voter turnout. That is because its timing is very unusual. This is the first non-presidential party primary to be held in New York in June rather than September in the past 40 years. If the race had been allowed to remain “below the radar,” resulting in a very low voter turnout, Barron had a real chance to win a surprise victory by mobilizing his supporters in his city council district and with help from DC 37.


By contrast, the best way to assure Barron’s defeat is by informing people throughout the district of his outrageous record and then encouraging them to vote next Tuesday in the primary.




Local party leaders, elected Jewish officials and Jewish communal organizations have now joined in the effort to draw greater attention to the importance of this race and Barron’s anti-Israel record.


At a press event held in front of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes parts of Boro Park, quoted some of Barron’s more outrageous public comments, and then added, “his presence in Congress would be poisonous to rational discourse, to any chance of making progress on Middle East peace or advancing intelligent policy. Short of some other people who make similar comments who are mostly in groups [like the Ku Klux Klan, Barron] is about the most destructive person I know of in public life.”


Other local Jewish Democrats who have spoken out against Barron’s candidacy are New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Long Island Congressman Steven Israel, and fellow New York City Councilman from Brooklyn, David Greenfield.


Barron and Greenfield have often clashed in the City Council, where Barron condemned him as “a coward” and for doing the bidding of “the Jewish lobby.” Greenfield said that if Barron were to win the primary, he would instantly become “the most prominent anti-Semite in Congress.”




A spokesman for US Senator Kirsten Gillebrand said that “any candidate who is anti-Israel does not share Senator Gillebrand’s values.” She is supporting Jeffries over Barron.


However, when asked, just one week before the primary, about Barron’s run for Congress, New York’s other US Senator, Charles Schumer, who has prided himself in the past on his support for Israel, inexplicably declined to comment on Barron’s outrageously anti-Israel views.


Beyond the public statements condemning Barron’s views, Michael Cohen, the Orthodox Union’s New York State Director of Political Affairs, says that his organization has launched a door to door canvassing operation to make members of the Jewish community in the congressional district aware of the sharp contrast between the positions of Jeffries and Barron on Israel and other issues of concern before the primary on Tuesday.




On the national level the Obama White House would be embarrassed if Barron’s name were to appear on the ballot below Obama’s on November’s general election ballot. The Obama White House is reluctant to endorse non-incumbent candidates in contested Democrat party primaries. Instead, it dispatched senior Democrat party leaders to make its preference for a Jeffries victory known to reporters, albeit without direct attribution.


Jeffries also received a White House invitation to a recent Obama campaign fundraiser at Manhanttan’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where he had his picture take with Obama and former President Bill Clinton. That picture is likely to be valuable to Jeffries during the last week of his campaign.


Nevertheless, Democrat party leaders are still concerned about the possibility that Barron could still win, especially if there is a small voter turnout.


Referring to the recent scandals which have sullied the reputations of former Congressman Anthony Weiner and Congressman Charles Rangel, a prominent party official said, “the New York [congressional] delegation had long been the envy of other states. Loaded with national figures. But it’s fallen into a period of decline. This primary outcome might represent hope for the future or painfully make clear that the caucus has utterly lost its way.


“Jeffries shouts star potential. Barron is a reckless clown who would sow division and embarrass the body. There’s only one desirable outcome here.”




With regard to his critical views about Israel and Jews in general, Barron has never made any effort to hide his open hostility. In a 2009 interview with the New York Amsterdam News, a black publication, Barron accused Israel of turning Gaza into “a virtual death camp, the same kind of conditions the Nazis imposed on the Jews.” He has called Israel “the world’s greatest terrorist,” and openly supports the creation of a Palestinian state.


In July of the same year, Barron participated with former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in an effort to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza with a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies. Previously, McKinney, who is also black, was known as the most pro-Arab and anti-Israel member of Congress. Barron also publicly endorsed Hamas terrorists and fundraising activities on their behalf.


Barron has said that Israel should not be recognized as a state, and that the true Semites are blacks, not Jews.




With regard to the infamous 1991 Crown Heights riots, which led to the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, Hy”d, by a black youth, Barron said, “even when leaders moved in to quell the violence, they never dealt with the perception that Jews get preferential treatment in Crown Heights. They only make up 20 percent of the population, but they’ve always walked these streets as if they owned them, and acted as if they were the only ones that mattered.” Barron also said about Chassidic Jews, “there is a way of thinking that says black life is not as good as Jewish life. That way of thinking has real consequences. It puts a chip on the shoulders of those made to feel inferior and gives a false sense of entitlement to those placed on high. The fact that they [Jews] have their own ambulance service and volunteer police detail in the heart of the community speaks to that.”


Barron, in a local New York radio interview Friday, refused to respond to accusations by former Mayor Koch and other Jewish elected officials that he is an “anti-Semite” and a “racist.”


Instead, he said that his “foreign policy plan does not start with Israel, it starts with Africa,” followed by the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and only then with the Middle East. But he then again endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state.




An editorial in the New York Post portrayed Barron’s potential major party candidacy for Congress as a disgrace, and reluctantly endorses Jeffries in the primary race. The Post admitted that in the past, it had rarely agreed with Jeffries’ liberal positions on the issues, but compared to Barron, it considers him to be far more qualified to represent New York in Congress by reason of his background as an experienced and accomplished Albany legislator.


The editorial was highly critical of Towns for publicly endorsing Barron, despite the considerable political provocation he had to turn against Jeffries. Reluctantly, the Post editorial concludes, “by every conceivable measure, Hakeem Jeffries is the far better choice. Indeed, he is the only choice for voters who truly care about New York.




One of the reasons Barron is running for Congress now is because he will be forced by term limits next year to give up his seat on the New York City Council.


In 2005, Barron briefly entered the race for the Democrat nomination for mayor of New York City. He dropped out in favor of another black candidate, C. Virginia Fields, who lost the nomination to Fernando Ferrer. In the general election, Ferrer lost to Michael Bloomberg, who was re-elected to his second term as mayor.


In 2010, Barron challenged Democrat nominee Andrew Cuomo in the race for governor, running on his own third party ticket, because Cuomo chose Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy to run as Lieutenant Governor instead of a black candidate.


He first ran for a seat on the City Council in 1997, and was first elected to the City Council, representing a district covering East New York, Brownsville and East Flatbush, in 2001.


Since 2008, his wife, Inez Barron, has been a member New York State Assembly for the 40th District, including East New York, Starett City and the Canarsie sections of Brooklyn.


He has had a series of confrontations with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. In 2006, after being the only member of the City Council to vote against Quinn, his seat in the council was moved next to a statue of President Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and whom Barron had previously criticized as a slaveholder and a hypocrite. In 2009, Barron challenged Quinn again by running against her for the speakership. After she defeated him by a vote of 47-1, Quinn stripped him of his chairmanship of the council’s Higher Education Committee.




Barron is also notorious for his outspokenly anti-American views. If he is elected to Congress, Barron has promised never to salute the American flag. He has also called for government reparations payments to American blacks for the suffering of their ancestors before the Civil War when slavery was legal in this country.


Barron seems to enjoy courting controversy by endorsing notorious villains. When announcing his candidacy for Towns’ seat last November, Barron said that his heroes were the late Libyan despot Moammar Gadhaffi, who was responsible for the massacre of thousands of Libyan civilians, and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who committed dastardly war crimes against the people of his own country. He is also a defender of the notorious racist, Louis Farrakhan, the outspoken leader of the Black Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam.


Barron also once publicly fantasized about slapping white people “for my mental health.”


Barron’s involvement with radical black groups dates back to 1968, when at the age of 18 he joined the Harlem branch of the militant Black Panther Party. Currently, he has close ties to the New Black Panthers Party, which has been characterized as a hate group.




Prior to his election to the City Council, Barron was noted for his active participation in public demonstrations, including the “Day of Outrage” on December 21, 1987, to protest against alleged racism by the New York City Police Department and the local courts. He and Al Sharpton were two of the protesters who were arrested that day for standing on the subway tracks in order to delay the trains during rush hour, and spent 45 days in jail. That same year, he and Sharpton were also arrested and spent 25 days in jail for promoting the notorious, false accusations by black teenager Tawana Brawley against six white men, including some police officers. Even when it became clear that Sharpton was aware that Brawley had made up the accusations, he refused to retract his endorsement of them.


Barron, who is now 61, is very much a throwback to the radical black nationalists of the 1970’s and 1980’s. He has been consistently hostile to the US, as well and Israel and the Jewish people since that time, and has never shown any signs of remorse, or attempted to broaden his political appeal. For example, he said in his radio interview that if he makes it to Congress, he may not get a single bill passed. “I don’t care,” he said, as long as he can express his views.




By contrast, Jeffries, who is 20 years younger, is typical of the next generation of American black political leaders. He has forged political coalitions with white liberals and has learned to work effectively within the political establishment.


While Jeffries’ political views may be too liberal for many, at least he is strongly pro-Israel, respects the Jewish community and is willing to work in cooperation with its leaders on issues of common interest. That is much more than can be said for Barron, who would be a disgrace and a tragedy for New York and the United States if he were to be elected to Congress.



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