The incoming Councilmember for Fort Greene and Crown Heights has issued an apology for comments made earlier this month in regards to a series of violent attacks that appear to be targeting Jews. You'll recall that Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo wrote in an open letter on Facebook that some of her constituents feel "the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success."
In what appeared to be a further attempt to rationalize the assaults, Cumbo also wrote 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 Anti-Defamation League called Cumbo's statements troubling, adding that her open letter “evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, agreed, and said the comments were “groundless and baseless.” And Commentary Magazine declared that "such textbook apologetics and excuses for crime hearken back to a different and far worse time for New York City, as does the nauseating stench of Cumbo’s classic anti-Semitic stew."
Now, inevitably, Cumbo has apologized:
I want to build bridges and bring people together and so I especially regret that my comments on the recent violent incidents in Crown Heights were offensive to my constituents. My intent was to stimulate dialogue on an important issue, but in repeating stereotypes, part of what I wrote emphasized the divisions between people, instead of bringing them together.
I sincerely apologize to all of my constituents for any pain that I have caused by what I wrote. It was the opposite of my intention. I have taken the last week to reflect, evaluate and meet with Jewish, African American and Caribbean leaders all across New York City, and I understand now that my words did not convey what was in my heart, which is a profound desire to bring our diverse communities closer together.
Crown Heights Rabbi Chanina Sperlin accepted the apology, and Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) sent out a statement saying, "After meeting Laurie and speaking with her, I applaud her remarks. Having gotten to know Laurie over the past week, I feel she will be a great asset to Crown Heights and the city of New York."