Rev. Al Sharpton did not understand the extent of the violence during the 1991 Crown Heights riots when he initially entered the neighborhood, and should have used different language in his protests, the activist wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News published Sunday.
In August 1991, race riots erupted in Crown Heights and an innocent Jewish student was murdered in response to the accidental killing of an African-American child. After the murder, the Rev. Al Sharpton came to the neighborhood and further whipped up an already incensed crowd, leaving some in the Jewish community to demand, 20 years later, that we forever shun Rev. Sharpton. My friend Rabbi Marc Schneier generated criticism for inviting him to the Hampton Synagogue to participate in a panel discussion.
With Democrat Al Gore's presidential candidacy surging, the Republican National Committee and its Jewish support group are hoping to erode his support among Jews and whites by linking him to the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"Al Sharpton is a racist anti-Semite with blood on his hands," said Chris Paulitz, a spokesman for the RNC in Washington who is gathering information on controversial Sharpton statements on behalf of national chairman Jim Nicholson. "He is the David Duke of the Democrat Party. Why has Al Gore and most of the Democrat Party embraced this hate-monger?"
The Rev. Al Sharpton's $30 million defamation suit against the Republican party could bring the most intense scrutiny yet of the black activist's role in two deadly anti-Semitic incidents, at a time when Sharpton is seeking a more mainstream image.
"They are inadvertently giving me an opportunity to clear my name," said Sharpton, who filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington last week against the Republican National Committee and its chairman, Jim Nicholson over a March 11 letter to the Washington Post.
At the headquarters of the National Action Network in Harlem last week, Rev. Al Sharpton punched his access code into a telephone, and replayed an unusual voice-mail message.
"This is one of your Jewish brothers in Brooklyn," said a voice. "We're a minority, just like you. They pumped 12 bullets into this guy ... I guess they wanted to get rid of him. Come on guys. We need your help. Get some buses over here. No justice, no peace!"
The protesters are back at Fred Harari's retail store, but it seems this time there is an unlikely moderator: the Rev Al Sharpton. Sharpton says he is mediating a new dispute with the Jewish merchant whose Harlem store was torched in a deadly 1995 racial conflagration. Four years ago he was recorded at a rally outside Freddyís Fashion Mart urging demonstrators not to let a "white interloper" contribute to the demise of black-owned businesses.
"I have met with the protesters and hopefully weíll try to resolve this," Sharpton told The Jewish Week.
Painting Sen. Joe Lieberman as hypocritical for first seeking his support and later attacking him, the Rev. Al Sharpton blasted the Connecticut pol on Monday for "open and flagrant race baiting" and "risking black-Jewish relations" through comments at a heavily Jewish fundraiser last week.
But Lieberman's campaign is firing back, insisting he never asked Rev. Sharpton for his endorsement in the race against Ned Lamont.
When the Rev. Al Sharpton officially tosses his hat in the presidential ring later this month, his supporters won’t be the only ones rejoicing.
Pundits expect the national GOP, which seems to delight in painting the controversial civil rights activist as a mainstream Democrat, to be elated at the prospect of a divisive primary involving an African-American leader who has been accused of anti-Semitism — a potential replay of 1984.
Seeking broad support for his initiative to fight slavery in Sudan, the Rev. Al Sharpton is turning to Jewish philanthropists for help and challenging communal leaders to end their ban on meeting with him, asserting that Jews and blacks should work together for this cause.
“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 that’s real leadership,” said Rev. Sharpton in an interview last week. “Give me the bill of particulars.”