The ugly untold story of a New Jersey neighborhood
December 27, 2019
The horrific attack at the Jewish market near Newark a few weeks ago was intended to be a massacre of Jewish children in a Jewish Day School next door to the kosher market. Because of some courageous police work the actual scene of the carnage was restricted to a kosher market adjacent to the Jewish Day School, saving the lives of dozens of children, but unfortunately resulting in the loss of life of a policeman pursuing the terrorist and two Jews and an Ecuadorian immigrant store worker in the store.
Make no mistake about it. This was an act of domestic terrorism, anti-Semitism and racism. At first the media reported the site of the attack as a neighborhood store, deliberately omitting the fact that it was a Jewish Kosher market and clearly one of the intended targets of this terrorist. It described the perpetrator in a manner intended to disguise his racial or religious identity even after he was identified as a member of an anti-Semitic group ironically known as the Black Hebrew Israelites.
Initial media reports did not even bother to describe the venue of the attack as occurring in a Kosher market. ABC News in its evening report on the day of the occurrence refused to describe either the venue or the victims as Jewish even though their identity as Orthodox Jews was known immediately from the clothes they were wearing and their presence in a kosher grocery market.
Of course, this is always the case when the victims are Jews. Recently, a Reuter’s News Report headlined an incident, “Israeli soldier kills Palestinian teenager.” One had to read the full article to know that this particular teenager was throwing firebombs indiscriminately at Jewish and Arab civilians as well as police officers trying to stop him.
But there is another story surrounding the terrorist attack near Newark that the news media briefly and superficially touch on. There was no in-depth follow-up on a story that revealed a greater danger in our society today.
While this crime scene was playing out in this Jersey City neighborhood, some news reports revealed that ordinary people in the neighborhood were expressing agreement and support for the attack on Jews living in their neighborhood, and on Jewish businesses serving the community; and that a few of these neighbors were actually elated at what was happening.
This insidious, ugly and basically ignored story of neighbors and ordinary citizens in the neighborhood expressing agreement and support for the attack on Jews and Jewish businesses is appalling.
Clearly, these people were expressing in the most abhorrent way their opposition and hostility to an Orthodox Jewish presence in the neighborhood. What makes this incident of hate and violence even uglier, if that was possible, was that this was coming from members of another minority in the community which apparently did not want Jews living in its midst.
This bald-faced example of unlawful, despicable discrimination and hate by a minority community who has greatly suffered generations of segregation and discrimination in housing, employment, education and in a host of other areas, would now employ these same oppressive measures against the Jewish minority community to keep them out of the neighborhood is shocking and intolerable.
Who is responsible for this and where is or should I say is there the necessary religious and civic leadership in this community who can lead its flock in a better direction?
If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.
Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.