JULY 27, 2005
The Jewish Press, voice of New York City's politically powerful Orthodox community, has published a strongly worded attack on Mayor Bloomberg's alliance with Lenora Fulani and the Independence Party.
The op-ed article is the work of Councilman Lew Fidler (D.), who represents Brooklyn's 46th District on the City Council. Fidler is the first council member to speak out against the deals that Mayor Bloomberg and other top politicians have made with New York's party of hate.
"People in government have a responsibility to stand up to all kinds of bigotry when they see it...," Fidler writes. "That can't be done by seeking the endorsement of the party she [Fulani] obviously controls. It can only be done by making her a pariah in the political mainstream."
Stating that he believes it "unlikely" the Independence Party "will choose to purge itself of bigots," Fidler says the party is like a "drug dealer," continuing to sell "so long as there are people buying." The example he gives is the mayor's donation in 2004 of "a quarter of a million dollars to the party's coffers in seeking their ballot line in November."
Fidler argues that the disease is "not limited to Mayor Bloomberg. Sure, he is the most recent example, and his use of his big bankroll to solicit Ms. Fulani's ballot line is particularly repulsive. It's important that all people seeking office turn down the Independence Party ballot line."
The councilman appeals to his readers: "What if--like moths attracted to a flame--politicians continue to seek the party's endorsement? Then, as always, the power lies with you, the citizen. Don't vote for any candidate who appears on the Independence Party line, no matter what other line he or she might be running on. Make a statement that says we cannot ignore hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism and there is no place for it in the political mainstream of our city."
It is rare for a politician in our city to speak out with such passion and in such incisive language. (For the full text, go to http://www.thejewishpress.com/news_article.asp?article=5191.) Fidler's article should be reprinted in The Jewish Week or the Forward to reach the non-Orthodox Jewish community. And The New York Times should ask him to write a version for its own op-ed page (which is the least the Times could do to atone for the whitewash of Fulani's cult that it published on May 28--the very day the mayor accepted the nomination of the Independence Party).
Fidler's article is an important step in the battle to destroy the growing power of the Independence Party and the anti-Semitic cult that dominates it. But everything hinges on more people in New York's political class speaking up loud and clear, and on both the politicians and the media going beyond the issue of the cult's anti-Semitism and dealing with the fact that it has used city funds (and is about to get more city funds) to run programs aimed at indoctrinating New York's children and teens with its noxious beliefs.
Question One: Will City Council Speaker and Democratic primary mayoral candidate Gifford Miller take up Fidler's call to quarantine the IP, and make this a defining issue between himself and the mayor between now and primary day? And win or lose in the primary, will Miller use his power as Speaker to bring Fidler's resolution condemning Fulani (which has been languishing without a hearing for almost three months) to the floor?
Question Two: Will Democratic primary front-runner Freddy Ferrer be willing to speak out with even a fraction of Fidler's passion on this issue, or will he continue to "play it safe" into political oblivion?
Question Three: Will Fidler himself, who is chairman of the City Council's Youth Services Committee, move quickly to block the mayor's provisionally approved grant of $216,000 in Department of Youth and Community Development funds to Fulani for a three-year after-school program? Will Gifford Miller also lend a hand? I'm hopeful on this, but the Council can't put this off until after August. The DYCD responsibility determination on Fulani's All Stars Project will be taking place within days, and the program is scheduled to begin operation on Sept. 1.
Will the Mayor finally realize that Fulani's cult is more trouble than it's worth, and announce that he's repudiating the IP ballot line? I must say I'm extremely pessimistic about this. The mayor is so stubborn in his support for Fulani and her psychotherapy guru Fred Newman (the eminence grise behind the IP) that one must wonder if there's something much deeper involved than the desire for the IP's ballot line. Fulani and Newman have humiliated the mayor again and again with their anti-Semitic antics, yet his response is always the same--issue a superficial denunciation of their bigotry and then throw more money at them from his own pockets and from the city's coffers.
When Fulani blamed 9/11 on the "aggression and arrogance" of the U.S. government in a Sept. 15, 2001 letter published on the Internet, Bloomberg made a great show of criticizing her, yet did not break with her party. After the election, he rewarded her with an $8.7 million city bond to finance a "youth development center" for her and Newman's All Stars charity. When the center opened in 2004, the first play it produced was the anti-Semitic "Crown Heights," which blamed the 1991 pogrom on the Jews. A Bloomberg aide responded to this clear slap in the face to the mayor (who had also donated $50,000 from his own pocket for the All Stars theater program) with a mild denunciation of the play, but not of Fulani or Newman. As in the wake of the previous incident, the poisonous duo were rewarded soon after with $250,000 from the mayor for Independence Party activities. In April 2005, the Mayor appeared on the stage with Fulani at a Lincoln Center fundraiser for All Stars; two days later, she again slapped him in the face by telling Dominic Carter in a NY1 News interview that she didn't think her statement in 1989 that Jews are "mass murderers of people of color" was anti-Semitic and that, on the contrary, it raised issues that need to be addressed. The mayor called her remarks "phenomenally offensive" but went ahead and accepted the Independence Party's nomination for mayor the following month, and, for the third time in a row, rewarded Fulani's rantings with cash--this time, the $216,000 DYCD grant.
What is really behind the mayor's strange masochistic behavior--behavior so totally at odds with the public interest and his own political self-interest? Can any journalist in this city cite to me a single instance in which Mayors Lindsay, Beame, Koch, or Giuliani allowed political allies to repeatedly double-cross them and humiliate them without taking steps to cut the offenders off at the knees? Would Bloomberg himself have ever tolerated such behavior from an employee of Bloomberg LP? Would he tolerate such behavior from a non-Newmanite City Hall staffer or campaign aide?
I can only advise the few reporters in this city who still practice investigative journalism to heed the immortal words of Sherlock Holmes: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."