One hoped that the Jersey City killings would have prompted serious opinion makers to carefully consider the pervasiveness and lethalness of anti-Semitism in our time. Surely, we figured, the public rant of a local Jersey City public school official who said that the murders were understandable in the context of a recent “invasion” of chasidic Jews and, indeed, that the perpetrators were on a mission to set things right, was ignorant, atypical and rogue.
But unfortunately, that notion proved widely off the mark.
In fact, the New Yorker magazine went the school official one better. It ran an article on the shootings called “Untangling The Hate At The heart Of The Mass Shootings In Jersey City,” which carried the subheading, online, “Did Hasidic residents in the Greenville (Jersey City) neighborhood spur two assailants to embark on a shooting spree that left six people dead?”
The story quoted several witnesses who “expressed relief that the shootings did not appear to be an act of anti-Semitism.” The New Yorker went on to note, however, “Recently, old tensions had begun to simmer in the neighborhood. Some residents have complained about the insularity and new influence of the Hasidic community over the local real-estate market. The Hasidic community, meanwhile, has chafed at local politicians who told them their new shul was violating zoning laws. The shul sits next to the site of the shooting.”
So there you have the tropes: unwelcome Jews flood an area and manipulate its economic and political life at the expense of the existing residents. The New Yorker not only quoted residents saying that the killings were not due to anti-Semitism, but the magazine actually provided a rationale for incident.
To be sure we are mindful of the distinction between reporting and opining. But it just seems to us that the New Yorker had an important duty here, which it breached.