(JTA) — A city councilman in Paterson, New Jersey, used the term “Jew us down” at a public meeting to criticize developers looking to buy land for less money.
Colleagues of Michael Jackson condemned his use of the term, calling it “highly insensitive,” “reprehensible” and “totally inappropriate.”
Councilman Al Abdelaziz, who is of Palestinian descent, was the first to call for an apology, the Paterson Times news site reported. Business administrator Vaughn McKoy left the council chambers after hearing the remark.
Jackson called the comment a “mistake.”
“That statement should have never been made. I ask everyone to forgive me for my brief lack of sensitivity,” he said, adding that he meant it with “no malice.”
Jackson said he heard the phrase growing up and that it was then a “term of endearment.”
Dictionary.com says “the verb jew (down) is also perceived as offensive because it perpetuates the stereotype of the shrewd Jewish moneylender or haggler.”
Developers also want concessions from New Jersey’s third most populous city, which has about 150,000 residents and is located approximately 21 miles from New York City.