‘Horrified’: NYC Lawmakers Refusal to Back Antisemitism Resolution Draws Fierce Condemnation

New York City Councilman Charles Barron (D). Photo: M. Stan Reaves/Alamy via REUTERS

The New York City Council on Thursday passed a resolution declaring April 29 as “End Jew Hatred Day,” but the decision of six council members, one of whom represents a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, to oppose or abstain from voting on the measure has drawn a chorus of outrage from federal legislators, city lawmakers, and local Jewish community leaders.

Brooklyn council members Shahana Hanif (D), who represents Borough Park and Park Slope, and Sandra Nurse (D), who represents Bushwick, each voted “no,” while Charles Barron (D), democratic socialist Alexa Viles (D), Rita Joseph (D), and Jennifer Gutiérrez (D) all abstained from Thursday’s vote.

Shahana Hanif, who is the first the first Muslim woman elected to the council, denied on the floor of the body that voting against the measure makes her antisemitic, calling the accusation “extremely disrespectful” while insisting, “I continue to show up for our Jewish colleagues and communities.”

Hanif’s office did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

Barron, who has asserted that “the Semites are black” and has compared Israel’s military actions to the Holocaust, describing Gaza as a “death camp,” has been accused for years of being antisemitic by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Last June, he disrupted a city council hearing on antisemitism, shouting that Israel is a “terrorist state.”

Barron, Joseph, and Gutiérrez did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

Another of the abstainers, Jennifer Gutiérrez, in a 2021 questionnaire by New York Jewish Agenda, which is part of the left-wing Progressive Israel Network, did not answer a question about her position on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Gutiérrez claimed nonetheless that she was committed to “fighting antisemitism wherever we see it.”

New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R), who drafted the resolution, told The Algemeiner on Friday that she is “horrified” by her colleague’s decisions.

“It is beyond explanation and reason why an elected official representing New York, where hateful acts against Jews have been increasing continuously, would be against fighting antisemitism,” she said. “The Jewish community across New York City deserves much better.”

US Congressman Ritchie Torres, a progressive Democrat criticized the group of six, writing on Twitter that “antisemitism has a long and ugly history” and asking “How can anyone vote against a resolution to end antisemitism?”

Torres’ criticism was followed by a torrent of condemnation from other local Jewish officials and community leaders.

“With all due respect Shahana Hanif, as a proud Orthodox Jew and a constituent of yours, I’m appalled by your NO vote on today’s New York City Council resolution to End Jew Hatred,” Simcha Eichenstein, a New York State Assembly who lives in Hanif’s district, tweeted. “Does my council member want Jew hatred to continue?”

Brooke Goldstein, co-founder of End Jew Hatred, a nonprofit that proposed “End Jew Hatred Day” to create “a nonpartisan day of pride, unity, and solidarity with the Jewish community,” said opposition to the resolution is “shocking,” adding that “there are people today who would literally vote no to ending hatred against Jews.”

End Jew Hatred announced earlier this week that resolutions supporting the idea have passed legislatures in five cities, localities, and states across the country. State senators have introduced others in the state legislatures of Georgia and Michigan, and more by legislators in Philadelphia, Kentucky, and Arizona are forthcoming.

Antisemitic hate crimes throughout New York City increased by 41 percent in 2022, based on an analysis of crime data conducted by The Algemeiner in January. There were 293 total antisemitic incidents in 2022, rising from 207 overall in 2021. Month to month comparisons of NYPD data show increases in antisemitic hate crimes for every month in 2022 except for AprilMay, and December. February and November, with 56 and 45 incidents each, saw the most.

New York and New Jersey combined for nearly 1,000 antisemitic incidents in 2022, seeing the first and third most in all 50 states, according to an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). New York led the nation with 580 incidents, a 34 percent change from 2019, when there were 430. Other data complied by Americans Against Antisemitism, a US based group founded in 2019, shows that Hasidic and Orthodox Jews in New York City are overwhelmingly represented in the area’s hate crime statistics, being targeted in 94 percent of all reported.

The violence has prompted eight major nonprofits from New York and New Jersey to create a supra-regional group for sharing and receiving information about threats to Jewish communities in the area.