Skip to comments.Sharpton-De Blasio Ties Bring Back Old Wounds For Some
Posted on 01/22/2014 1:17:58 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
As a mainstreamed reverend enjoys access at City Hall, community leaders recognize change; but some still nurse grudges.
Two decades ago, Rev. Al Sharpton was the ultimate civic iconoclast, speaking what he called truth to power, organizing rallies and attacking the establishment on behalf of the oppressed.
Today, hes under fire for being too mainstream. Last summer, another prominent black voice, Cornell West, attacked the National Action Network founder in a radio interview as a too-complacent house negro of Barack Obamas plantation, failing to hold the president accountable for drone strikes or talk about Wall Street criminality.
And as he emerges as a key insider in the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, with better access to City Hall than hes had in years and with a top ally appointed as the first ladys chief of staff, Jewish leaders who have long been wary of him and his agenda, and scornful of his past activism, are wondering how to react.
Hes not an individual who can be avoided within the public arena, said Michael Miller, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. And yet, in terms of the hurt within the Jewish community, it has not yet healed.
At 59, making his living as host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC, Rev. Sharpton is a changed man in every sense of the word from the days he wore jogging suits and medallions. Slimmed down and somewhat mellowed with age, he marked the 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots in August 2011, by accepting criticism that the role he played in the early hours of the melee was misguided and provocative.
Our language and tone sometimes exacerbated tensions and played to the extremists rather than raising the issue of the value of this young man whom we were so concerned about, he wrote in the Daily News, referring to Gavin Cato, the child whose accidental death sparked the violence.
Late last year, Rev. Sharpton spoke out passionately against so-called knockout game attacks by black men in Crown Heights and elsewhere that targeted Jews, calling them insane thuggery.
One Jewish leader noted, off the record, that Sharpton has never emerged as a major critic of Israel at times when other left-wing voices have piled on.
Still, some note that his Crown Heights mea culpa did not include the word apology and that he never brought it directly to the Jewish community there or to the family of Yankel Rosenbaum, who died on the first night of the violence (before Sharpton entered the neighborhood).
While calling the 2011 Daily News op-ed a a positive development, Miller said he agreed with Norman Rosenbaum, Yankels brother, who said in a response in the same paper that he has given us no genuine expression of remorse. No real regret for what he did.
As I have said over a period of decades, Rev. Sharpton still owes the Rosenbaum family and the community an apology for his actions during that time, Miller said.
In Crown Heights, the wounds can still be raw. Chanina Sperlin, a board member of the areas Jewish community council, said he recently refused to participate in a press conference against the knockout attacks if Rev. Sharpton was included.
He has to apologize, plain and simple, for what he has done, not just to our community but to the Jewish community at large, Sperlin said. Not only for making the mob come out but for giving the Lubavitcher rebbe a lawsuit that had no basis. (Sharpton and his allies launched a wrongful death suit against the Lubavitch because the car that struck Cato was part of the rebbes motorcade and went through a light.)
Until he does that, I dont want to speak to or know the guy.
Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, who said at the time that reverends apology did not go far enough, now says some in the [Jewish] community believe issues remain, but I think to the overwhelming majority Al Sharpton is part of the mainstream New York political scene. I dont think those things that bother some are of significance today.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, agrees.
He has expanded his horizons and demonstrated a greater commitment to the Jewish community and the state of Israel, said Rabbi Schneier, who has spoken at the National Action Networks annual Martin Luther King Day gathering. I am of the school of thought that people grow in life and a wonderful example of that is the Rev. Al Sharpton. His evolution has been genuine and sincere.
Around the same time as Sharptons Daily News op-ed, author and lecturer Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote a piece in the Jerusalem Post calling for an end to the Sharpton wars. He noted the time the reverend blindsided him during a joint trip to Israel with a side trip to visit Yasir Arafat in Gaza. But he also noted subsequent acts of contrition and cooperation. Sharpton can do that, just when you think hes only interested in himself, Rabbi Boteach wrote.
Miller said the ties Reverend Sharpton seems to have with de Blasio, while poles apart from the flammable relationship he had with Rudolph Giuliani, is not much different than that of the past 12 years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought Rev. Sharptons guidance, and others have as well, he said.
But a story on the politics website Capital New York this week, headlined Al Sharpton, insider, noted de Blasios four appearances with Sharpton since he won the election. Sharpton told reporter Azi Paybarah hed urge the mayor to focus on job creation, education and police reform, stopping the stop-and-frisk [policy] and racial profiling.
On Monday the mayors office announced that Sharptons longtime NAN spokeswoman and adviser, Rachel Noerdlinger, would be chief of staff to First Lady Chirlane McCray.
I would say wherever we have access to get people in, that have been raised and nurtured in the movement, that I feel will represent what is good for the community, Sharpton told Capital New York I think that is a good thing.
Rev. Sharpton, for his part, has regularly extended his hand for dialogue with Jews.
I will meet with them any time, anywhere, and whatever things I have said or done that are injurious or wrong, I will deal with because thats real leadership, he said in a May 2001 Jewish Week interview. Give me the bill of particulars.
Few took him up on it. Instead, the JCRC routinely tried to marginalize him while embracing other African-American clergy and political leaders. But the media, as well as elected officials, still looked to Rev. Sharpton as the voice of the black community.
One person who has regularly openly engaged with Rev. Sharpton is Howard Teich, a former leader of the American Jewish Congress New York region and board member of the JCRC.
Teich was one of a handful of Jewish organizational leaders to meet with Sharpton and Catos father, Carmel, shortly after the riots.
I saw an opportunity to heal rifts between the two communities, said Teich. I faced a lot of heat. I didnt see him as opposed to the Jewish community but as standing up for his community. He said it was appropriate for Jewish leaders to remember, but to hold onto the past when the reality today is different makes no sense to me.
He recalled that in 1994 the reverend denounced the killing of Ari Halberstam, a 16-year-old chasid, by a Lebanese-born terrorist on the Brooklyn Bridge, and joined with local imams and rabbis to condemn the crime.
Teich recalled that after the press conference, Rev. Sharpton put a hand on Teichs shoulder, then said, I bet you were nervous about what I was going to say.
Blacks get to call themselves “Rev.” and thus write off all their taxes.
“I don’t need no church to be a Rev., Bro!”
Maybe he’ll get around to the Tawana Brawley debacle some day.
One can only hope that NYC gets every liberal initiative that the statists running the place dream of and that the fools who live there voted for by voting in POS deb.
“If he’s a “reverend” I’m a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model”
If this was DU, someone would come out with the TTIWWP.
Neither he nor Jesse are Reverends. Al was “ordained” by a DC preacher when he was 10 years old and has perpetuated the myth ever since. While Jesse at least attended seminary school for a while, he never graduated, has never had a church or a congregation. Both are complete phonies.
“Maybe hell get around to the Tawana Brawley debacle some day.”
And the Freddy’s Fashion mart fire - multiple deaths there.
This article leaves out a lot of bad that sharpton’s done. It’s truly terrifying to think of his gal in City Hall.
There must be some money in it for Al.
You can’t declare yourself a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. If you want to be a Reverend, in some circles you can.
You’re right about Rev. Al, he’s kind of a made up Reverend. And Jesse didn’t complete seminary, or ever have a congregation, or work within the Church. But I believe he’s an ordained Baptist minister, a couple months after MLKs murder, I think by Ralph Abernathy. Sketchy, but I believe recognized.
In 1966, he moved his young family to Chicago, where he did graduate work at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Jackson never finished his studies, but was later ordained by the minister of a Chicago church.
As far as I'm concerned, he didn't do the work required to be a Reverend.