Well, one guy in NJ got kiboshed over those who kibbitz: James Harris lost his job for comments about the Children of Israel.
James served as education chair for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but no longer.
As reported by New Jersey’s 101.5, he was voted out after remarks during a December 30th community meeting.
In relation to his role as chair of the New Jersey Association of Black Educators, James asserted from the podium:
“The Jewish community controls the Board of Education and the City Council — but they spent huge amounts of money sending kids to the Yeshivas. And, they’ve gutted the budget for the black and Latino students who are left in the public schools.”
In the live-streamed-on-Facebook speech — which lasted nearly 20 minutes — he also launched, “Excuse me, if facts are facts, it doesn’t necessarily make it anti-Semitic.”
Some at the end-of-year session — hosted by Montclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville — were none too impressed by the castigation.
One such person: attendee and Montclair Rabbi David Green.
As per 101.5, he was “the first to contest Harris’ remarks.”
Another: Bloomfield Rabbi Marc Katz, also in attendance.
Here’s what he had to say on his own Facebook page:
“Hasidic Jews were the only real example he gave of the problem of changing demographics. This is a how anti-Semitism works. Jews are blamed as the sole cause of society’s problems. There are a lot reasons for our housing shortages in Montclair. Jews moving to Lakewood is not one of them and only serves to stoke fear.”
Though James’s performance only officially represented the NJABE, Montclair’s chapter of the NAACP took issue.
Here’s what the branch’s president, Albert Pelham, had to say:
“Some of Mr. Harris’s overall comments and tone that evening were in clear contradiction of The NAACP’s mission and thus the Montclair Branch condemns them. … [H]is comments come at a time in this divided country when hate has overpowered love and compassion. While the purpose and theme of the December 30th meeting was around Unity, his comments have created a firestorm and will only serve to further divide us as a community.”
James issued a written apology in a December 30th forum:
“My whole life has been devoted to civil rights and promotion of justice and equity for all people. I abhor violence against any community.”
He added that he condemns the recent aforementioned violence.
“My personal statement was meant to focus on the impact of gentrification on lower socioeconomic communities in Montclair, NJ. Instead, I used a regional example of Lakewood, NJ real estate and public education funding. Unfortunately, I used terms and examples that have been interpreted as anti-Semitic.”
James’s bad standing with the NAACP will be over soon enough — the suspension’s only in effect for 6 months.
But he may have bigger bridges than that to repair.
Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson on Saturday had promised a swift sit-down between rabbis and African American clergy to address the relationship between the Jewish and African American communities.
That meeting also took place Monday afternoon, according to Jackson.
On January 4th, the mayor released statement:
“Hate, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance have no place anywhere and particularly in our community and as a community we will work tirelessly to ensure that they are addressed head-on and rooted out.”
Irrespective of James Harris, if the news lately is any indication, that could mean a whole lot of rooting.
Do you think James’s punishment is commensurate? Let us all know in the Comments section.
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