Photo Credit: Office of Representative Hakeem Jeffries
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is leading a Congressional delegation on a visit to Ghana and Israel. It’s his first congressional delegation as Democratic Leader, and his choice of destinations reflects the concerns of his constituencies: Africa and Israel. After visiting Ghana, the delegation will then travel to Israel on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary and “have the honor of participating in the recognition of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.”

Jeffries represents New York’s 8th congressional district which encompasses the majority African-American and Caribbean-American Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Canarsie, East New York, Ocean Hill, Spring Creek, and East Flatbush; the mostly white neighborhoods of Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Howard Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Sea Gate; and mixed neighborhoods like Clinton Hill, Flatlands, Fort Greene, Ozone Park, Brighton Beach, and Coney Island.


Congressman Jeffries, who this year replaced Nancy Pelosi at the helm, is widely considered a friend of the Jewish community and a friend of Israel. He is a firm supporter of Israel’s right to exist, and as the Guardian put it last November: “The prospect of Jeffries heading the Democrats in the House has been greeted with delight by hardline pro-Israel groups increasingly alarmed at a growing dissent in Congress over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.” According to Open Secrets, pro-Israel groups donated close to half a million dollars to Jeffries’s 2022 campaign, second only to donations from the financial industry.

At a rally in July 2014, Jeffries said: “Israel should not be made to apologize for its strength.” Having grown up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jeffries added that he knew from experience that “the only thing that neighbors respect in a tough neighborhood is strength.” In December 2016, Jeffries condemned the Obama Administration for not vetoing United Nations Security Council Resolution concerning Israeli settlements, the notorious farewell smack in the face from Barack to Bibi.

So, Leader Jeffries is a friend, except… In the summer of 1991, Hakeem’s uncle, the antisemitic Black Studies Professor Leonard Jeffries, said in a speech that there had been “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood by people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani,” to denigrate Black Americans in films, and that “Russian Jewry had a particular control over the movies, and their financial partners, the Mafia, put together a financial system of destruction of black people.”

Leonard Jeffries was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, which didn’t stop him later from comparing Jews to “dogs” and “skunks,” for which he was condemned by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and New York City Mayor David Dinkins. It cost him his position as chair of the Black Studies Department at the City University of New York in 1995.

In February 1992, Hakeem Jeffries, then a senior at Binghamton University in upstate New York and a board member of the Black Student Union, was part of a decision to invite his uncle to speak on campus for an “undisclosed” fee. The Jewish Student Union was outraged, and in response, Hakeem Jeffries called a news conference where he defended his uncle and the decision to give him a podium.

“We have no intention of canceling a presentation that contains factual information, proven through scholarly documents and texts,” Hakeem Jeffries read from a written statement. “The proper way to debate scholarship is with scholarship––not with high-tech lynchings, media assassinations, character desecrations, and venomous attacks.”

Jeffries not only defended his uncle against the hostile “White media,” but he also attacked Black conservatives, calling them “token,” “opportunists,” and “house negroes.” He then wrote an editorial that basically repeated the old charges by Malcolm X about the conflict between field and house negroes during slavery.

Leonard Jeffries spoke on campus, defending himself from charges of anti-Semitism while repeating his slurs about the Black-hating Jews who rule Hollywood. Not surprisingly, Uncle Jefferies compared his Jewish detractors to the Nazis, saying, “It’s ironic that members of the Jewish community felt compelled to take a position that is antidemocratic and….pro-Nazi in its viciousness.”

That was 30 years ago, and Hakeem Jeffries claims not to recall that episode, certainly not as vividly as the Jews his uncle accused of Nazism under his nephew’s patronage. Also, the Democrats need Hakeem Jeffries if they hope to take back the House in 2024. He is the only leader these days capable of speaking to the Democratic crazies on the left and the panicky Democrats from purple states on the right.

Enter Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5). He is Jewish, and a sane Democrat. How sane? In January 2020, Gottheimer was one of eight Democrats who voted against a resolution to curtail President Donald Trump’s war powers following the assassination of Iranian Quds Commander Qasem Soleimani. In 2018, Gottheimer said President Trump acted appropriately in striking Syria in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. A normal, Jewish Democrat.

Last week, when the Leonard Jefferies story resurfaced, ahead of Hakeem Jeffries’s Independence Day visit to Israel, Congressman Gottheimer issued this statement:

“I’ve known my good friend, Leader Hakeem Jeffries, for nearly a decade, and I can personally attest that American Jews and Israel are lucky to have him as an unflinching supporter and champion. In Congress, Hakeem has been an unwavering voice against antisemitism and hate. He has been a staunch advocate of the U.S.-Israel relationship. And, beyond that, he is a man of deep integrity. Anyone who has a question about Hakeem’s character, commitment to American Jews, or Israel is welcome to call me.”

So, call him. His website is Hey, I’m Josh Gottheimer. You’ll at least be able to email him a question. Tell him The Jewish Press sent you.

Finally, here is the full list of the delegation of Democratic dignitaries coming to Israel to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut:

  • Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee; Member, Committee on Financial Services
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Member, Committee on Appropriations; Member, Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government
  • Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce; Member, Committee on Homeland Security
  • Rep. Stacey Plaskett, Ranking Member, Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government; Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
    Rep. Nanette Barragán, Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Member, Financial Services Committee
  • Rep. Steven Horsford, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus; Member, Financial Services Committee; Member, Armed Services Committee
  • Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. Joe Neguse, Chair, Democratic Policy and Communications Committee; Member, Judiciary Committee; Member, Rules Committee; Member, Natural Resources Committee
  • Rep. Dean Phillips, Co-Chair, Democratic Policy and Communications Committee; Member, Foreign Affairs Committee; Member, Committee on Small Business
  • Rep. Sara Jacobs, Caucus Leadership Representative; Member, Foreign Affairs Committee; Member, Armed Services Committee

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