The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Dominating the public policy discussion in New York these past few weeks have been two pieces of New York City Council legislation relating to the New York City Police Department. One creates the position of inspector general within the NYPD to monitor the department’s activities; the other grants individuals who claim to have been victims of racial profiling the right to bring a lawsuit seeking a court judgment prohibiting similar actions by the NYPD (seeking monetary damages is not provided for).
Both measures are said to have been prompted by charges that the NYPD is out of control in its efforts to deal proactively with crime and the terrorist threat to the city. Separate and apart from the merits of the legislation, there are other salient points to be made that are receiving little if any attention.
At the outset, we note three things. Though we tend to agree with those who oppose the legislation on the ground that they will unduly hamper police in maintaining their robust program for crime and terror prevention, we are not unmindful that there are legitimate gripes from law-abiding citizens who get caught up in the wide net cast by the police. This certainly happens when police action is not limited to imminent wrongdoing. It is inherent in the nature of the enterprise.
Nor are we untroubled by charges of excessive use of force by the NYPD. We well remember the shooting of Gidone Busch in Boro Park, Brooklyn, on August 30, 1999 by four police officers. Mr. Busch, an observant Jew wearing a beard and yarmulke, was in an agitated state when cops shot him dead. He had been brandishing a hammer while standing more than six feet from the officers with his back against a wall. No one was ever indicted in the incident and a civil jury ruled against his family – and while the verdict was overturned by a federal judge because of problems with the testimony of a police witness, Mr. Busch’s family chose not to pursue the case any further.
Second, the two pieces of legislation passed the City Council at a time when statistics show that the number of crimes in New York, including homicides, have declined precipitously while those controversial police measures have been in place. Plainly the police are doing something right, though we agree that cannot be the end of the inquiry.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind captured the moment in a letter to the Council and on his radio show. In his letter urging defeat of the two measures, he noted that as the result of proactive police work, “We’ve had a remarkable, measurable downturn in crime.” He went on to write that the proposed legislation would have “ ‘a chilling effect’ where cops become more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing their duty.”
On his radio program he was even more expressive regarding criticism of special monitoring of Muslims: “As the days go on, more and more people, especially Democrats on the left, are criticizing, asking for more investigations…. I mean, these people are nuts.”
Third, Mayor Bloomberg has created distractions in the public debate with his attempts to justify targeting minority communities for special attention from police. He infelicitously cited the higher percentage of crimes committed by minorities and almost flippantly remarked that whites were being scrutinized far beyond what those statistics would seem to call for. He has also sparked criticism with his vow to throw around his money to defeat those members of the City Council who voted for the legislation. It’s his money to do with as he wishes, and he certainly hasn’t relinquished his right to do so by becoming mayor. Still, the comments serve no good purpose.
What is getting almost no notice is the provenance of both laws. In fact, they are the work product of something called the Progressive Caucus, which upon its formation three years ago was described by The New York Times as consisting of the twelve most liberal members of the City Council. “The caucus,” wrote the Times’s David Chen, “will be the first in recent memory to coalesce around ideology rather than racial or sexual identity, according to Council members. And by voting yes or no as a bloc, the caucus could establish a liberal litmus test for all Council members that could be easily tracked by future Democratic primary voters, who tend to skew left.”
The driving force of this grouping is Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander. The Jewish Press strongly opposed Mr. Lander when he first ran for the Council in 2009. We noted his public identification with the Palestinian cause and his dismissal of bris milah as an anachronistic and divisive act of child abuse. He has since become a regular contributor to The Nation magazine, one of the most virulently anti-Israel publications around. In our view, not only were the two anti-NYPD measures developed by Mr. Lander’s caucus, they would not have been passed without its support.
Mr. Lander was supported by some Orthodox public figures who told our community that he had turned over a new leaf. Since that is plainly not the case, we hope those supporters will now use any remaining influence they have with him to put him on the right path.
Kudos to Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. for refusing to report the measures out of his committee. Sadly, a discharge motion by the pro-legislation juggernaut in order to bypass his committee succeeded.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/stop-frisk-and-racial-profiling-legislation-collateral-issues/2013/07/03/
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