Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
We were encouraged by the statement of Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes that he will not agree to any plea bargains and will seek the maximum jail sentence of up to fifteen years in prison for anyone convicted in last week’s Flatbush firebombings. Several cars were destroyed and swastikas and anti-Jewish slurs were painted on nearby park benches in the early morning attack.
Frankly, Mr. Hynes’s sense of outrage and urgency was a refreshing change of pace from the rather tepid reaction on the part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The patently anti-Semitic vandalism occurred at the intersection of Avenue I and Ocean Parkway, a predominantly Jewish area. The target site is surrounded by several synagogues and yeshivas. The attack took place the morning after the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, though it’s unclear whether there was any connection.
So we were more than a little put off by the mayor’s relatively blasé response to such a disturbing and potentially deadly incident (the block where the attack occurred is frequented by joggers and fuel trucks).
In a statement released to the press, the mayor said,
New York City is home to more than 8 million of the most open and tolerant people in the world. But even here, there are occasional incidents involving actions that are hateful or vicious or both…. The fact that this most recent attack came on the heels of the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht may or not be a coincidence. Either way, this kind of hateful act has no place in the freest city in the freest country in the world.
Boiled down to their essence, Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks can be summed up as “Yes, this was reprehensible, but stuff happens.” The mayor was also a notable no-show at the rally against anti-Semitism on Sunday that was attended by a cross section of elected officials.
Compare the mayor’s reaction with his robust responses to anything that might discomfit the Muslim community. When a Muslim army psychiatrist with reported jihadist ties shot and killed 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, Mr. Bloomberg met with New York Muslim leaders to discuss the tragedy.
Before the meeting, the mayor’s press secretary said “We’re trying to reach out to leaders in various Muslim communities throughout the city, because we’re trying to prevent the sort of anti-Muslim backlash we’ve seen elsewhere.”
After the meeting Mayor Bloomberg told reporters, against all available evidence, “I want to make sure that everybody in New York understands that the terrible tragedy at Fort Hood was an individual who snapped but it has nothing to do with religion.”
The mayor’s reaction to last year’s abortive Times Square bombing is also instructive. Although many assumed a Muslim terrorist was involved, Mr. Bloomberg, without a shred of proof, declared that the wannabe bomber was probably some “homegrown” individual upset with the Obama health care plan (read Tea Party member).
When Faisal Shahsad, a Muslim-American, was arrested and confessed, the mayor’s prompt and memorable comment was, “We will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers.”
Finally, when a crazed passenger stabbed cab driver Ahmed H. Sharif because Sharif was a Muslim, the mayor, with great fanfare, met with Sharif and Muslim leaders at City Hall to deplore the attack.
Surely we don’t quarrel with the mayor’s much vaunted sensitivity to the plight of those targeted for their ethnicity and religion. We just think the Jewish community is entitled to some of it.
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