December 5, 2013
Incoming councilwoman: Knockout attacks may be caused by black-Jewish tension
An incoming New York City councilwoman said the wave of so-called knockout attacks may be caused by tension between blacks and Jews.
Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo, who was elected to represent the Crown Heights neighborhood and will take office next month, made the statement in a Facebook post on Tuesday calling for a zero-tolerance policy toward the “knockout game” and for strengthening the relationship between African-Americans and Jews.
In the game, attackers try to knock out someone with one punch. At least ten such attacks have taken place in the Brooklyn borough of New York City since September, most directed at identifiably Jewish people, according to reports.
Cumbo said that she had many discussions with local residents during the primary season and that “many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes.”
The councilwoman-elect said she did not mean to bring up the issue “as an insult to the Jewish community, but rather to offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a ‘hate crime’ against a community that they know very little about.”
Cumbo stressed her admiration for the Jewish community. However, she added, “I also recognize that for others, the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success.”
She called for the communities to “gain a greater understanding of one another so that we can learn more about each other’s challenges and triumphs despite religious and cultural differences.”
Cumbo called for a detailed investigation of the knockout attacks, leading to “arrests and legal action.”
“If one person attacks another, regardless of the motivation, there is no justification for such an action,” she wrote.
Jewish leaders reportedly criticized Cumbo for her assertations.
The Anti-Defamation League said that Cumbo’s statement “evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.”
“As an organization that has worked for more than 20 years to improve Black-Jewish relations in the aftermath of the Crown Heights riots, we are troubled by the incoming councilwoman’s sentiments, particularly her comment about resentment over Jewish economic success, which evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes,” New York Regional Director Evan Bernstein said in a statement.
Other incidents of knockout attacks have occurred in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., The Associated Press reported.
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