Photo Credit: Public Domain due to age
Watercolor of Fagin from Oliver Twist by Joseph Clayton Clarke (1857-1937).

State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, 67, represents District 81 in the New York State Assembly, which comprises Kingsbridge, Marble Hill, Norwood, Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield, and Woodlawn Heights. Dinowitz, who has served in the New York State Assembly since 1994, has won last week’s Democratic primary and will most likely continue to serve his constituents in Albany.

Dan Goldman has won NY’s 10th congressional district and will also likely go on to win in November to represent Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the west side of Midtown Manhattan, the west side of Lower Manhattan, including Greenwich Village, Tribeca, and the Financial District, and Borough Park, Midwood, and parts of Bensonhurst.


Goldman was the decisive winner in a crowded primary field that included progressive and pro-BDS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Representative Mondaire Jones, and many others.

It’s that win that stuck in the craw of an influential group of progressive Democrats calling itself No IDC NY. The name is a rejection of a group of Democratic public officials known as the IDC – Independent Democratic Conference. It was a group of New York State Senators who were elected as Democrats but formed a coalition to give the Republicans the majority in the chamber. The IDC included State Senators Jeffrey Klein, Marisol Alcantara, Tony Avella, David Carlucci, Jesse Hamilton, Jose Peralta, Diane Savino, and David Valesky. In 2018, the newly formed No IDC NY ran challenges to all eight IDC incumbents, defeating six.

All of the above is fair play. The IDC folks had good reason to support the Republicans in the state senate, and NO IDC NY was perfectly justified in launching the effort to unseat them. All’s fair in love and war.

Last Saturday, though, an ugly side of the progressive bunch came out, in a nasty tweet on its official account that was later removed, but, you know, the Internet doesn’t forget.

“The jerk buying a House seat with inherited money is ‘Goldman’ … the IDC-adjacent Assembly member is ‘DINOwitz.’ Who came up with these names, Dickens?”

It’s dripping not with just antisemitism, but classic antisemitism. The reference to Dickens is, of course, about Fagin, the villain in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel Oliver Twist, who leads a group of children that he teaches to pickpocket and commit other crimes, in exchange for shelter. Fagin was an “archetypical Jewish villain,” and in the first 38 chapters of the book he is referred to as “the Jew” 257 times, compared with 42 uses of “Fagin” or “the old man.”

Dickens wrote, in a typical antisemitic apology, that he had made Fagin Jewish because “it, unfortunately, was true, of the time to which the story refers, that the class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew.”

Dickens has Jewish characters in other works: Sketches by Boz, in which a London coach office features “the usual crowd of Jews and nondescripts”; Pickwick Papers, in which Mr. Pickwick mentions gratuitously that one of the “principal productions” of the towns of Stroud, Rochester, Chatham, and Brompton are Jews; The Old Curiosity Shop, in which Quilp says, “He’s richer than any Jew”; Barnaby Rudge, in which Gashford associates Jews with money and beards; and David Copperfield, in which Mr. Micawber says paper money “a convenience to the mercantile world for which I believe we are originally indebted to the Jews who appear to me to have a devilish deal too much to do with them ever since.” There are many, many more, less profound examples, including some in Dickens’ short stories. But as a rule, when you mention Jews and Chuck Dickens, you mean Fagin.

Thank God, this repulsive progressive group wasn’t as successful this time around as it was four years ago. And thank God, they have quick and nimble enemies who caught their passion play and shamed them into taking it down.

But more than anything else: thank God for the State of Israel, where everyone can find shelter once these animals start winning in earnest.


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