NYC council okays annual ‘End Jew Hatred Day,’ though some object

Progressive US Democrats accuse measure’s supporters of Islamophobia, insufficient criticism of Israel to explain refusal to back resolution amid rash of antisemitic incidents

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

A sign for a campaign against antisemitism, New York City, August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)
A sign for a campaign against antisemitism, New York City, August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)

NEW YORK — The New York City Council on Thursday passed a resolution that will recognize April 29 annually as “End Jew Hatred Day,” as city officials work to rein in regularly occurring antisemitic incidents.

Two members of the US city’s governing body voted against the measure, and four abstained, sparking an outcry from Jewish advocates, while 41 council members voted in favor.

The resolution was championed by the Jewish Brooklyn Republican Inna Vernikov, an outspoken opponent of antisemitism in city politics. She cited data from the Anti-Defamation League showing antisemitic crimes in the US at an all-time high, and regular incidents in New York City.

“A disturbing trend of antisemitic hate crimes has engulfed our city,” Vernikov said at the council meeting. “Things have gotten so bad that Jewish Americans have begun to question whether their safety and future in our city is secure, and with identifiable Jews being beaten for their faith, identity and religion in broad daylight, who can blame them?”

She said the resolution was meant to send a message to the city’s Jews that “we set aside political differences to end Jew hatred because we all agree that antisemitism is unacceptable.”

The resolution did not include details about how the city would mark the day each year.

The New York State Senate introduced similar legislation last year that cited End Jew Hatred, an organization that has been pushing for legislation at state and local levels to combat antisemitism. The group has also joined protests against antisemitism alongside Jewish community leaders in New York.

Progressive Brooklyn Democrat Shahana Hanif said she voted against the resolution because it was sponsored by “far right wing organizations and right wing Islamophobic individuals.”

“They have not stood up for Muslims, they have not stood up for trans New Yorkers or anybody,” she said.

End Jew Hatred says it aims to end antisemitism in Western society, rejects all partisan affiliations and does not take positions on other issues.

Hanif co-chairs the council’s progressive caucus and represents parts of Boro Park, a neighborhood with a large Jewish population, including many visibly identifiable religious Jews.

Charles Barron, another Brooklyn Democrat, abstained from the vote, blaming “inconsistency of members of the Jewish community, particularly its leadership, in speaking out against hatred, like hatred of the Palestinian people, like the State of Israel murdering Palestinian women and children and stealing the land.”

Barron also accused Jewish community leaders of supporting apartheid in South Africa.

The Anti-Defamation League has said Barron “has associated with antisemitic hate groups and promoted extreme anti-Israel positions intended to demonize the Jewish state.”

Sandra Nurse, also a Brooklyn Democrat, also rejected the measure.

Council member Rita Joseph of Brooklyn abstained, but later said she regretted the decision, claiming she hadn’t had a chance to review the legislation ahead of time.

Vernikov and other Jewish council representatives blasted the measure’s opponents.

“It’s astounding to see the Council members who clearly do not want to end Jew hatred. Your antisemitism is showing,” Vernikov said.

“In this city, how could anyone deny that antisemitism has become a real problem?” said Jewish Council member Kalman Yeger.

Council member Eric Dinowitz, the chair of the Jewish caucus, said, “It’s just incorrect to say that the Jewish community does not stand with our brothers and sisters in other communities, and if you don’t see that, it’s just because you don’t want to.”

The NYPD reported 32 anti-Jewish hate crimes last month and 61 since the start of the year.

In New York City, 263 hate crimes targeting Jews were reported to police in 2022, an average of one antisemitic incident in the city every 33 hours.

Reported incidents ranged from violent assault to verbal harassment, property damage, and antisemitic graffiti.

Jewish security groups have said that many attacks likely go unreported.

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