N.Y. lawmaker Hikind apologizes for Purim blackface

(JTA) — Dov Hikind, a New York state assemblyman, apologized after coming under criticism for dressing up in blackface for Purim.

"I’m sorry people were offended," Hikind said Monday at a news conference outside his Brooklyn home, according to the New York Daily News. "In hindsight, I should have picked something else. It never crossed my mind for a split second that I was doing something wrong."

A photo of Hikind dressed in a black wig and wearing dark makeup had been posted on Facebook. He is flanked by his wife, dressed as a demon, and son, who is sporting yin-yang facial makeup.

"I am deeply shocked and outraged by the insensitive actions of Assemblyman Hikind, to dress as a black basketball player complete with tanned skin and an Afro wig,” said Hikind’s fellow Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Karim Camara, the chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, in a statement picked up by New York media.  

The Anti-Defamation League blasted Hikind’s costume as showing "terrible judgement."

"There are so many myriad costumes available to Jewish kids and adults during Purim, but putting on blackface should not be one of them," Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, said in a statement. "This is especially true for a politician living in an environment where ridicule and prejudice of African-Americans has a long and sad history."

Deborah Glick, an assemblywoman from Manhattan, was quoted by The New York Times as saying the photo was "beyond offensive."

Earlier, Hikind wrote on his blog that the criticism was "political correctness to the absurd."

Hikind is a leading pro-Israel Democrat in New York who at times has sided with Republicans and slammed President Obama on Israel policy.

Last week he slammed fashion designer John Galliano, who had apologized for past anti-Semitic outbursts, for "mocking" hasidic Jews when he was photographed in Manhattan wearing a fedora and a long coat. 

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