The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1,000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, Tuesday condemned the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) for inviting the Rev. Al Sharpton to address its Washington, DC, conference earlier in the day. Rev. Sharpton was touted on the agenda of the RAC program, entitled “Consultation on Conscience,” as “one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders.”
“That is a shameful way to describe a man known for anti-Semitic statements and incitement to violence,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the CJV. “Al Sharpton set race relations back years, and helped ignite a hostility towards Jews in the black community that persists to this day. For a Jewish organization to declare such a person a ‘civil rights leader’ betrays both authentic civil rights and Jewish values.”
The CJV highlighted a piece in the Washington Examiner by Norman Rosenbaum, and Isaac Abraham, respectively brother and close family friend to Yankel Rosenbaum, murdered during the Crown Heights riots of 1991. They write:
We remember Al Sharpton for what he did in 1991. It was in August of that year that he led violent, murderous anti-Semitic rioters on a pogrom in Crown Heights. They terrorized that Jewish community for nearly four days, during which 183 people were injured and the innocent visiting Australian University academic Yankel Rosenbaum – brother to one of us – was murdered in cold blood amid cries of “Kill the Jew! Kill the Jew!”
It was Sharpton who rallied those rioters with calls of “No Justice, No Peace!” He disparagingly referred to Jews as “diamond dealers.” In an exercise of immense intellectual dishonesty, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism failed to mention any of this in its conference promotional materials. Nor is Sharpton’s reprehensible support of Tawana Brawley’s false rape accusations, nor his boycotting of Korean grocers in Brooklyn, nor his actions culminating in the arson of Freddie’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street. That is the Al Sharpton we know – then, now, and forever.
“This year alone,” observed Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the CJV, “anti-Semitic attacks have jumped 82 percent in New York City, with hate crimes concentrated specifically in Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods, and yet more specifically in Crown Heights. To honor an unapologetic Al Sharpton at this time demonstrates Reform Judaism’s thoughtlessness, if not outright hostility, towards their Orthodox brethren, who are still suffering the aftereffects of Sharpton’s anti-Semitic rhetoric.”