Donna Nevel, a leading activist in Jews Against Islamophobia, protests outside the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Photo: Ryan Chavis/NYU)
Earlier this year, the leadership of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York penned a fawning Op-Ed in favor of Ray Kelly, the head of the New York Police Department (NYPD). It was titled "The Case For Ray Kelly," and it appeared in the New York Jewish Week.
Kelly's tenure as NYPD chief has been full of controversy due to widespread spying on the Muslim community, the NYPD's "stop and frisk" policies and the department's handling of Occupy Wall Street. So the Op-Ed didn't go unnoticed (I covered it here).
And now, progressive Jews are striking back against mainstream Jewish support for Kelly--this time, in the form of an Op-Ed once again in the Jewish Week (who should be praised for featuring these voices). The writers, Elly Bulkin and Marjorie Dove Kent, are members of the coalition group Jews Against Islamophobia.
Their indictment of Kelly, in a piece titled "The Case Against Ray Kelly," is searing:
We were greatly distressed to read “The Case for Ray Kelly,” a statement of support for the NYPD commissioner in The New York Jewish Week (Feb. 10) by the leadership of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). The authors of this article, Alan S. Jaffe, Michael S. Miller and David M. Pollock, claim that Commissioner Kelly has made New York a safe place to live. We ask — safe for whom? Certainly not the Muslim community...
In their assessment of the NYPD’s policies, the JCRC leadership has trivialized the impact of constant surveillance upon the Muslim community. The authors ignore numerous Associated Press and other reports that describe the scope of the surveillance operation and its impact on Muslim communities in New York City and well beyond the city’s borders. They ignore as well that, as The New York Times has reported last month, “the Justice Department is beginning to review complaints about the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim and Arab communities to determine whether a full civil rights investigation is warranted.” We are reminded of the shameful “Red Scare” periods — times of government spying, informing, and infiltrating, all in order to “make us safe.”
The JCRC statement also does not acknowledge that Ray Kelly was a featured interviewee in “The Third Jihad,” a rabidly Islamophobic film — a fact he conveniently “forgot.” Under Kelly’s watch, according to files uncovered by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, the NYPD showed nearly 1,500 police officers during their training this anti-Islam propaganda film whose main narrative is that Muslims are trying to violently “infiltrate and dominate America.”
The authors close by calling for the resignation of Kelly, a demand shared by many community groups in the city.