Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More hate crimes in Brooklyn

The NYT piece is a mess, so here's the news from The Brooklyn Eagle.

When police searched the apartment, they found a stockpile of weapons, including explosives and a crossbow. Police sent the bomb squad in, and building residents were evacuated for nearly a full day, from 3 a.m. Sunday to late evening, witnesses said. Remsen Street was also closed from early morning until nearly 8 p.m., and worshipers at Grace Church had to enter via a rectory building rather than via the main entrance.

According to the New York Post, Ivanov had been a closely watched subject in relation to the Sept. 24 hate graffiti – swastikas as well as racial slurs like “kill the Jews.” The graffiti was found spray-painted on the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and the B’nai Avraham synagogue, both less than two blocks away from Ivanov’s home, as well as on several buildings on Columbia Place.

The graffiti appeared just after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a well-known Holocaust denier, gave a controversial lecture at Columbia University. The lecture was heavily protested and almost universally condemned by local and national Jewish leaders.

I'm curious about why the NYT piece is such a mess. It seems to be pushing a view of antisemitism as fringe craziness rather than a real threat. Here we have a story about someone amassing weapons and the likely intent of bombing synagogues, but they feel the need to quote a rabbi on who's Jewish?

I have a better idea of what bothered me about the reporting on the attack on the Q train recently. It was quite a feel good story, which made it a great alibi for journalists and readers to avoid challenging any of the assumptions they hold about Jews. Meanwhile, the vandalism of a cemetery in Chicago seems underreported. After recent vandalism of a cemetary in New Jersey, police were "initially reluctant to label the damage a hate crime." And Jews who talk about rising antisemitism get marginalized, ignored, or even banned from spaces of debate. In Tricia Rose's speech, which I highlighted from a WNYC radio show yesterday, she spoke of people with "an incredibly passionate rhetoric for the ideal of equality and no tolerance for the sacrifice that it takes to make it happen." Once again, thanks to Hassan Askari who joined the fight against antisemitic violence. But when will people join the fight against the racist logic that underlies such violence?

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