(JTA) — Washington, D.C., lawmakers and local Jewish leaders who met over breakfast with Trayon White Sr. said the councilman was sincere in his apology for suggesting on Facebook that rich Jews control the weather.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called Tuesday’s meeting, which included bagels and lox from a local kosher market, “an opportunity for us to learn better about different aspects about bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism,” the Washington Post reported.
The meeting, which included about 20 Jewish leaders, was organized by Mendelson and Rabbi Batya Glazer, government liaison for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
White, a Democrat representing the district’s 8th Ward, posted a video early on March 16 in which he accused “the Rothschilds” of controlling the climate to make money — an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has gained traction on the web. He later removed the video and issued an apology.
The Rothschilds are a well-known European Jewish dynasty descended from a Jewish banker originally from Germany.
Several of the Jewish community leaders spoke for over half an hour about dangerous stereotyping about Jews. They said White should have the opportunity to educate himself and redeem himself, according to the Post.
When White had the opportunity to speak, he noted that his comments led to a national “butt whooping.”
“Growing up as a young man in Ward 8, I had no idea what anti-Semitism was. Really. As a leader, I should be held accountable,” he said.
White added: “I’m not just here to hope this dies down and goes away and gets out of the headlines.”
Several days after White’s weather comments, a video went public in which the councilman at a government gathering last month said that the Rothschilds control the World Bank and the federal government. None of the lawmakers present challenged him.
Lawmakers at the breakfast reportedly said that they did not pay attention to the remarks or did not understand the anti-Semitic implications.
Most of the lawmakers also did not immediately condemn White’s weather remarks.
White did not respond to a Washington Post reporter when he asked the councilman for the source of his information on the Rothschilds.