Agudath Israel of America, like all New Yorkers of good will, is outraged at current mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa’s recently publicized rant against Hassidic Jews. Our outrage is accompanied by great surprise, considering how Mr. Sliwa and the Guardian Angels group he founded have shown great concern for the safety of Jews.
In his 2018 address to a Hudson Valley meeting for the Reform Party, Mr. Sliwa berated Hassidim, hurling age-old misrepresentations and distortions that those who hate Jews have used for centuries at contemporary Jewish residents of Hudson Valley counties, several of which have seen influxes of identifiable Orthodox Jews over recent years.
Among much other ugliness, he expressed disdain for Jews who donate to political candidates. And derided “able-bodied men who study Torah and Talmud all day while “all they do is make babies like there’s no tomorrow.”
Such Jews, he said, don’t vote like “normal Americans,” and have the audacity to access educational funding for their schools to which they are entitled.
Aside from the misleading nature of Mr. Sliwa’s accusations, with violent attacks on Jews, like those in Monsey, Pittsburgh and Jersey City, still in recent memory, words like his only add fuel to the fire of Jew-hatred.
Mr. Sliwa might find it helpful to speak to representatives of some of the Jews he so dislikes. Some education about Judaism’s priorities and how a true democracy functions would benefit him as he aims to lead a city known and celebrated for its ethnic and religious diversity. A repudiation of the offensive and fallacious words, and an apology – a sincere one – are in order.
At the end of his diatribe, the then-talk show host touted his Jewish connections, as if that in some way justified his bigoted words, and, in an attempt to head off criticism of his hateful words, asserted that “The moment you bring this to somebody’s attention, you’re called an antisemite.”
Mr. Sliwa, however, should know that when one parrots the traditional canards used by antisemites one is reasonably suspected of being among them.
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