By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former Mayor Ed Koch called Congressional candidate Charles Barron a "viper," a "snake" and an enemy of the State of Israel yesterday.
Koch joined several officials who represent Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn in piling on the councilman from East New York, who's competing with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene) to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Towns.
Barron was slammed for eulogizing dictators Mummar Gaddafi (at Sista’s Place in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2011) and Robert Mugabe (in 2008 at City Hall), supporting the “Viva Palestina” bid to defy the Israeli blockade of Gaza, characterizing Israel as a “terrorist state” and likening Gaza to a concentration camp (to a City Hall reporter in June 2010).
They also brought up his remark at a 2002 rally that "I want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing’ and then slap him, just for my mental health."
Joining Koch at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan were Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) and council members David Greenfield (D-Borough Park/Midwood) and Mike Nelson (D-Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay) and Assemblymembers Helene Weinstein (D-Sheepshead Bay/Flatlands),Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) and Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brighton Beach/Midwood).
“One thing about Charles Barron is, he can be very charming, but so can a snake," Koch said. "We have learned to live together in this city despite our different backgrounds, and his vile, vicious assailing of Israel is simply not acceptable.”
Barron told the Brooklyn Eagle that he would not address the issues raised yesterday. He said they were diversions from local issues that really matter.
“We have problems with foreclosures — I saved 90 houses from foreclosure," he said. "We have problems with schools closing, with day care funding. I’ve secured thousands of units of affordable housing and renovated three major parks."
“I’ve been up and down the district, talking to the black community, the Bangladeshi community, the Jewish community, the Asian community, and no one raises these issues,” he said.
“I was down in Brighton Beach at a forum of the Russian-Jewish press, and no one talked about these issues. They talked about things that were important to them, like foreclosures.”
Jeffries, who did not attend yesterday's event, declined through a spokesperson to comment.
The re-drawn 8th C.D. now includes substantially Jewish neighborhoods, such as Mill Basin, Manhattan Beach and part of Brighton Beach, that were not part of Towns' original district, which was concentrated in central and eastern Brooklyn.
“There are a lot of new parts to the district,” Hikind told the Eagle, “and one of our major objectives, a couple of weeks before the primary, is to make sure everyone knows who Charles Barron is.”
“He has said on the record that he questions the right of Israel to exist,” said Hikind. “He takes every opportunity he gets to demonize Israel at conferences of the extreme left.”
Hikind stressed that he believed “this has nothing to do with” criticism of Israel as such, but that Barron “steps over the line.”
“If Shimon Peres [the president of Israel, a supporter of the Oslo Accords] were here, he’d also denounce Barron,” Hikind continued. “This is something that a conservative like myself and a liberal like Jerry Nadler can agree on.”
A YouTube video posted by “The Yeshiva World” called “Anti-Semite NYC Councilman Charles Barron” reproduces a 2005 radio show in which Barron is interviewed by talk show host Zev Brenner. At the beginning, Barron says he had tried to introduce a resolution condemning the deaths of civilians on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but caught a lot of flak for it.
An argument erupted when Barron said he was equally opposed to suicide victims killing Israelis and “Israeli fire targeting terrorists on the second floor, but killing civilians on the first floor” of a building.
Brenner objected, saying that when Israel kills civilians it doesn’t mean to do so, but that this takes place in actions that are retaliations for Arab terrorist episodes.
Barron, however, questioned whether all of Israel’s military actions are retaliations.
He cited the Sabra and Shatila massacres during the Lebanon War of 1982, committed by Christian Arab forces allied with Israel, and castigated Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and Meir Kahane as racists.
In an interview with the Jewish Press earlier this month, Jeffries called Israel “our most robust ally in the world,” called for official U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and disagreed with the “rigid use” of the 1967 borders as a “starting point” for Arab-Israeli negotiations.