NEW YORK (Jul. 11)
“Latent anti-Semitism” is at the root of the mounting tensions between Blacks and Hasidim in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, a spokesman for the Lubavitcher Hasidim, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
The remark came in the wake of a demonstration by Blacks Saturday demanding an end to the Crown Heights Community Patrol a civilian anti-crime unit run by the Hasidim, which they alleged was deliberately harassing and physically abusing Blacks.
About 500 Blacks demonstrated outside the local police precinct and then marched to the nearby headquarters of the world Lubavitch movement and the home of its spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. Some 300 police were on hand but there were no disorders. The Blacks also criticized the special police protection given to Schneerson, calling it preferential treatment.
The protest was sponsored by the Coalition of People of African Descent, described as an umbrella group for Black organizations in Crown Heights, and led by the Rev. Heron Sam of St. Marks’ Episcopal Church.
The latest clash between Blacks and Hasidim apparently stems from the June 4 slaying of 17-year-old Abraham Goldman, son of a Hasidic rabbi, during a dispute on a Crown Heights street corner. Three Hispanic youths are in custody, charged with stabbing Goldman. Since then, according to Blacks, Hasidim have been terrorizing Black youths and women. They accuse police of not protecting Blacks and failing to arrest Hasidim who assault Blacks. Black spokesmen charge that the Community Patrol is a “vigilante” organization sanctioned by the police.
But David Eldad, a member of the Community Council of Crown Heights, which sponsors the patrol, said the patrols will continue. Mendel Shemtov, chairman of the Council, has been quoted as saying that some of the anti-crime group may have been over-zealous at times and “acted more or less on their own.” However, he said, “They have never killed or stabbed anybody. The most they have done is try to protect themselves.” Dismissing the charges against the civilian patrol and “Hasidic vigilantes,” Krinsky said the patrols protect everyone in Crown Heights and that Blacks have been invited to join.
DENIES JEWS ABUSE BLACKS
According to Krinsky, the Blacks “are going to create a monster. . . a situation they won’t be able to deflate. (The Black accusations) awake latent anti-Semitism and bring hatred into the open.” The charges that Jews are physically abusing Blacks are unfounded, Krinsky told the JTA, adding that the demonstration and tense atmosphere where racial remarks by Blacks aimed at Jews are widespread, is the work of a “few rabble rousers,” mainly clergymen, who are inciting animosity for reasons of “self-aggrandizement and publicity.”
Charging that “100 percent” of the crimes committed in Crown Heights are committed by Blacks, Krinsky likened the Black accusations to the story of the youth who kills his parents and then asks for clemency on the grounds that he is an orphan.
Several “inflammatory” circulars have been distributed among Blacks in recent weeks, Krinsky said, “to arouse the ire of the Blacks. . . against Jews and the Hasidim in particular. One flyer portrayed a Hasid beating up a Black youth, Krinsky said.
One of the flyers urging Blacks to demonstrate said: “Never again! Stop Hasidic attacks on Blacks!” and “Blacks arise! ! End Gestapo tactics.” Krinsky said the Black assertions are analogous to when Hitler charged the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto with killing Germans.
According to Krinsky, many Blacks do not understand what the other Blacks are upset about because of the relative tranquility of Crown Heights when compared to the surrounding areas of Brownsville, East Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant. “Crown Heights is an oasis and it remains a viable community because of the Lubavitcher Hasidim,” Krinsky said.
Unable to see a rationale in the Black point of view, Krinsky is apprehensive that “some apologetic Jews will say there is something wrong with the Hasidim. Apologetic self-hating Jews will say there are two sides of the story.” He added: “I really don’t comprehend what they (the Blacks) want. It is basically rooted in anti-Semitism.”
Street crime is the most serious issue in Crown Heights, years ago a prosperous neighborhood inhabited mainly by middle class and affluent Jews. Today it is an officially designated poverty area, about 60 percent Black and 35 percent Hasidic.