As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
Again this past week, there was fresh evidence of the increasing propensity to demonize Hasidim in the public’s perception.
Last Wednesday, in a front page story, The New York Times reported that a Mafia informer secretly recorded gangland conversations and helped ‘authorities file charges yesterday against 45 men accused of committing a smorgasbord of savage and small-time mob crimes, from murder to stock fraud to shaking down two competing delicatessens.’
According to the story,
At a news conference…federal officials released a three-inch stack of paperwork, including indictments, with details on the men arrested in the case. While prosecutors accused 32 of being connected to the Genovese crime family, not all had traditional Mafia backgrounds. Among them were two retired police officers, a certified public accountant, a lawyer and a Hasidic man accused of joining in a Brooklyn labor bribery scheme. (Emphasis provided.)
So right off the bat, of the ’45 men’ who were indicted – and the ’32′ amongst them whom ‘prosecutors accused … of being connected to the Genovese crime family’ ‘ the religiosity of only one of them is reported.
The story goes on to report that ‘among the Genovese members taken into custody’ were ‘a former acting boss,’ ‘two captains’ and ‘two acting captains.’ We are then told that the remaining defendants were members or associates of New York’s four other crime families – ‘the Bonannos, the Colombos, the Gambinos and the Lucheses.’
In a comprehensive paragraph, the article continues:
The core group of defendants is an eclectic Genovese crew led by [the two acting captains], the government said. The crew included … a retired police detective who specialized in collecting debts and … a retired patrolman accused of helping to run a Lower Manhattan gambling den…. Another member of the crew … was an accountant … known as the tax doctor, who was an expert on hiding money in overseas accounts.
However, although there is still no reference to the ethnicity or religion of these accused in the descriptions provided of them, in a separate paragraph we are told this about another ‘crew member’:
‘The Hasidic man … was charged with paying bribes to a building workers’ union so that cheaper, mob-connected maintenance men could work in a Brooklyn apartment complex he owned without complaints from the union.’ (Emphasis provided.)
It should also be noted that in recent days, there have been several stories about allegations of serious improprieties at Hale House, but there was nary a mention in any of the stories about the fact that agency was run by African-Americans. Other stories have centered around allegations about embezzlement at a municipal union, but none raised the ethnicity of the alleged perpetrators.
Unfortunately, of late, this application of racial profiling also comes in the form of using Hasidim as political cannon fodder. On Wednesday of last week, the New York Daily News ran a story entitled ‘Illegal Ballots In New Square Vote/Clinton Supporters Didn’t Live In Town.’ The headline spread across to the adjacent page over a picture which carried the caption, ‘A Hasidic woman pushes two children past [a yeshiva] in New Square, Rockland County, where questions about votes for Sen. Hillary Clinton have emerged.’ The story itself was about alleged improper voter registrations for 26 New Square voters. Predictably, the article began with, ‘A Rockland County Hasidic community’s overwhelming vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was tainted by irregularities, a Daily News investigation has found.’ (Emphasis ours.) And further in the article was the report that, ‘Several other New Square voters appeared to have current addresses in Hasidic communities in Brooklyn; Monsey in Rockland County and Monroe in Orange County.’ (Emphasis ours.) But the gratuitous references to Hasidim is not all.
Just below the New Square story was one about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton accompanied by a photo of her walking to the Senate, which together, also occupied parts of two pages. The Clinton story was entitled, ‘Hill Is Ready For Party At Her New D.C. Home.’ The story and the headline, both of which had absolutely nothing to do with the picture, reported that Senator Clinton would be holding a fund-raiser at her Washington home that night (i.e., Wednesday evening) to help retire the campaign debt of one of her Senate colleagues.
The very next day, The News ran another double residence-registration story. This one was entitled, ‘Double Take In Ballot Probe/Voters With Same Name & B’day Show Cracks In New York System.’ It first reports that one registrant who ‘voted in Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhood of Williamsburg (emphasis provided) in 1996 also voted in the same election -forty miles away in the Rockland County Hasidic community of Monsey.’ (Emphasis provided)
The News then patted itself on the back noting that,
The Daily News reported yesterday that during the last election, there was evidence of similar voting irregularities in the Rockland County Hasidic community of New Square. That contributed to an overwhelming 1,400-to-12 New Square vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton…. (emphasis provided).
The News goes on to repeat its Wednesday’s assertion:
But the irregularities appear to extend beyond New Square into other Hasidic communities in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, Rockland County’s Monsey and Orange County’s Monroe. (Emphasis provided.)
The unnecessary religious references and the curious observation that 26 votes contributed to ‘an overwhelming 1,400-to-12′ vote for Hillary Clinton were revealing. But so is the story that appeared on the same page with the second voting story. As was the case the day before, the subject was again about Senator Clinton and a fund-raising party at her home to retire the debt of a colleague. But, whereas the first story reported about what was to come at the Wednesday night shindig, Thursday’s story reported on what happened at the event. And once again, a picture of Senator Clinton with a caption having nothing at all to do with the story – but which took up more than a third of the page – accompanied the story.
Was all of this an effort to fan the controversy over Senator Clinton’s possibly improper role in her husband’s commutation of the sentences of the New Square Four’ You bet.
For many weeks, we have been highlighting what we perceive as the purposeful targeting of Hasidic Jews by government and the press – both general and Anglo-Jewish media. Our problem is not with individuals being prosecuted for their activities, or that their activities are being reported. Our problem is with a focus not on what individuals are accused of doing, but on their ethnicity and religious affiliation.
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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/targeting-hasidim/2001/06/01/
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