I have met Councilman Charles Barron and interviewed him many times. I do not believe, as some claim, that he is anti-Semitic. But he is unquestionably biased when it comes to Israel. Barron, a former Black Panthers militant and current Democrat who represents East New York and other adjacent areas in Brooklyn, has consistently viewed Israel as akin to South Africa's apartheid government or some kind of other racist, oppressive power. The latest example is the long screed he delivered to the Daily News' Frank Lombardi in response to the Gaza flotilla mess. It's laden with Holocaust comparisons.
You can almost understand the fiery passion of his defense of the people of Gaza and his tendency toward hyperbole on their behalf, if not for his complete ambivalence toward, if not denial of the other side of the conflict, as he refers to Israel's past "over-reaction to whatever aggression they claim the government imposed upon Israel." By the government he presumably means the Hamas-led power that rules Gaza, openly refusing to recognize or negotiate with Israel and turning a blind eye to the hundreds of rockets that regularly sail over the Gaza border toward southern Israel's civilian population.
Evidently, during Barron's recent visit to Gaza, he made no attempt to get to the bottom of this "claim" of Palestinian aggression and see for himself what many other American officials have seen firsthand. Some of his fellow Council members, including Speaker Christine Quinn, have even had to take shelter in Sderot during rocket attacks that occurred during their visits.
Fewer people would begrudge Councilman Barron his concern for the welfare of the Palestinians of Gaza and the unfortunate circumstances they endure because of the continuing conflict if he could at least acknowledge as fact, rather than mythologize, the idea of Hamas aggression and Israel's legitimate security needs. Showing some ability to see nuance in a situation would likely further his political career. (Barron's inflammatory style has already cost him the Higher Education committee chair). Until then, he continues to marginalize himself and give fuel to those who call him an anti-Semite and Israel basher.
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