In September, a protester associated with the Working Families party derisively screamed “Jew” at Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ Dist. 5). The Jewish Standard’s story, titled “Joe or Jew?” (January 14) gives the impression that there is some ambiguity about what transpired. The facts, however, are unambiguous: Rep. Gottheimer was the target of antisemitism.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, a respected public official (not to mention a Rhodes scholar), has corroborated Gottheimer’s report of the incident. The Secret Service agents protecting Raimondo also clearly heard the comment, as they thereafter expressed concern for the congressman’s safety.
Instead of condemning the incident, the Working Families party has spent its time denying that it ever happened. Such behavior is symptomatic of the attitude that antisemitism is mainly a problem on the political right. Left-wing groups often perceive themselves as being champions of equality and fighters against bigotry; in their minds, they can’t possibly be prejudiced and discriminatory against Jews.
The denial of the incident is one small indication that antisemitism on the left is at least as problematic as on the right and is going unchecked. And, unfortunately, this is not the first indication that the Working Families party does not have the Jewish community’s best interests at heart.
The rise in antisemitism today—especially in America, the world’s bastion of freedom and tolerance—is a matter of grave concern. This past weekend’s hostage crisis at a Texas synagogue only served to accentuate the severity of the situation. Antisemitic incidents must be reported clearly and condemned unequivocally, not swept under the rug.
It is heartening that State Senator Gordon Johnson is seeking a full investigation into the rhetoric against Gottheimer. Responsible citizens must follow Senator Johnson’s lead and hold antisemites fully accountable for their behavior, forthrightly and without ambiguity.
Rabbi Menachem Genack
Congregation Shomrei Emunah