“You can’t give up. That’s not the way Jewish people function. God is not going to listen unless we do our part,” Hikind said.
By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News
Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind is one of the most outspoken former politicians in the Empire State.
Hikind is known for his organization, Americans Against Antisemitism, which helps lead the fight against Jew hatred.
The group is not only attempting to build bridges between the Jewish community and those who need to be educated about anti-Semitism, but it’s putting pressure on elected officials to make legislative changes to prevent such acts of hatred.
Hikind represented District 48 in Brooklyn for 35 years, ending his tenure in the Assembly in 2018. Now, he is focused on fighting anti-Semitism, and he calls it out as he sees it.
Last year, he fought Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after she blocked him on Twitter. Hikind then sued the New York freshman congresswoman. The two settled in November 2019. Ocasio-Cortez also issued an apology.
Hikind recently spoke with World Israel News.
Q: How do you explain the rise of anti-Semitism around the world and in America specifically in recent years?
“If you look at anti-Semitism, it’s always there. Sometimes, it’s beneath the surface because things are quiet, but it’s there. Those who hate the Jewish people have no reason for it. There are people out there who think of Jews are vermin. They think Jews should be destroyed. There are people like Farrakhan who says things about Jewish people with such a passion. Words are powerful, and boy is that true. There’s love for Farrakhan on social media, who’s the most vile anti-Semite today.”
Q: And a lot of the people who are following Farrakhan are quite famous, too.
“That’s the problem. There are people with a following like [Nick] Cannon, football players and basketball players who have tremendous followings. They love what Farrakhan is all about. They fight for justice for Black people. They think we should do the right thing in this world and, of course, we should. But, at the same time, they stab Jews in the back.
“Everyone is so consumed with Jews, that we run the media and the world. There are only 14.7 million people who are Jews in the world out of 8 billion. Haters are so consumed with Judaism. Farrakhan has no one else to blame except the Jewish people? There’s nothing new about anti-Semitism, but there are periods of time when things are quiet. Sadly, people can turn into doing the most horrible things imaginable. That’s why people like Farrakhan are so dangerous.
“I’ve been speaking out against this, but people said, ‘Forget about Farrakhan. He’s old and no one cares about him.’ Is anybody going to say that today? Members of the United States Congress met with him. Where are Barack Obama and Eric Holder? Where are leading black people? Why haven’t they said anything? They would be effective in speaking out. There have been a few, but not enough.”
Q: Do you think the greater danger from anti-Semitism today is from the Right or the Left and why?
“There’s a problem on the Right and Left. I think the Left, in many ways, is more dangerous because we don’t acknowledge it. On the Right, everyone jumps… Our group, Americans Against Antisemitism, doesn’t look at Democrats or Republicans. Hate is hate. If it’s against the black community or Jewish community, it doesn’t matter. You can’t have two standards. If you look at what Cannon said, how is he capable of saying such things? Where is AOC, by the way? She’s telling America what to do, watching what’s going on, and we don’t hear a sound from her.”
Q: What do you attribute the rise of anti-Semitic attacks by blacks on Orthodox Jews in New York?
“If you go back before the coronavirus, we were screaming that anti-Semitism was coming from the black community, interestingly from young black people. How do we know that? Because we saw the videos. I remember speaking to [New York Mayor] Bill de Blasio last year [just before the] Shavuot [holiday]. I spoke to him about what’s going on in the streets of New York. I said to him, ‘All of the attacks are emanating from the black community. We need to address that.’ We’re not blaming the black community, but you need to acknowledge it before you can solve the problem.
“Only after what happened in Jersey City and Monsey is when we saw a reaction from the mayor and governor [Andrew Cuomo]. People are always coming to me and I’ve spent 45 years, going back to JDL [Jewish Defense League] and then 36 years in public office. People are afraid about the future. Who is there to fight for us and not be afraid?”
Q: So where do we get such a leader from?
“I don’t know the answer. I wish I was still in public office for one reason. I had plans to do all sorts of things. I never thought we’d be facing what we’re facing. I don’t know. We need to find courage. The overwhelming thing today is we need Jews to be dedicated to Judaism as those on the radical Left are dedicated to their agenda.”
Q: Everyone says education is key. It’s starting to sound cliché since we’ve had Holocaust education-type programs for awhile, and they don’t seem to have had much of an impact if we take the rise of anti-Semitic incidents as the yardstick. What can America do as a society to help solve this issue?
“Sometimes, the more educated people are, the more anti-Semitic they are. We have all of these Jewish organizations, but what have they been doing in a concrete way to address what’s going on? You have to deal with the situation.
“Farrakhan is a guy in his 80s. He has such influence on young people. They are excited about this guy. To do nothing is the most dangerous thing possible. People need to support those who are doing things. One of the things I make clear and Rabbi [Meir] Kahane always used to say is it’s not incumbent on anybody to solve the problems of the world. It’s important that we do our part.
“When I was involved with Soviet Jewry – I was 18, 19, 20 – people used to say, ‘Do you really think you’re going to make a difference?’ We did make a difference. You can’t give up. That’s not the way Jewish people function. God is not going to listen unless we do our part.”
Q: People have said Black Lives Matter is an anti-Semitic organization. What’s your take?
“I asked some people in Americans Against Antisemitism to spend time going through documents to see if the Black Lives Matter has a charter. I see people in the movement are supporting left-wing lunacy. I wanted to see what the BLM charter says. There is no question that many of the chapters associated with Black Lives Matter are definitely a major problem for the Jewish people. I know some of their chapters have said terrible things. What happened with George Floyd is an absolute tragedy. I would love to have dialogue with black leaders.”
Q: You recently tweeted that you were surprised by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for groups linked to Palestinian terror organizations. Why was it surprising to you?
“With AOC, it’s hard to have dialogue and I wish she would dialogue with me or people like me. She’s involved with different groups that she follows. You get a sense that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. We got her to publicly apologize. She just ran for reelection and won overwhelmingly. It is what it is. You look at the election results and she won overwhelmingly.”
Q: What’s your message to her in the fight against anti-Semitism?
“Come to Jewish communities and meet some of the few Holocaust survivors who are still around. Talk and have this conversation. It’s not about people listening to us, but we need to listen to them. I don’t have a problem learning. As smart as I think I am, I know I can learn so much more.”
Q: Do you think the “cancel culture” will affect Jews in specific ways and if so how?
“Isn’t it ironic that CBS fired Nick Cannon but Fox did not? I don’t know why Fox was even going to show Farrakhan on Fox Soul, but we fought against it and they cancelled it. Today, the ‘cancel culture,’ if you look at someone the wrong way, you lose your job. There’s no pity.
“When it comes to anti-Semitism in the black community, specifically regarding Farrakhan, you have people saying they didn’t mean it. No one gives people a chance to explain and save their livelihood. You can get cancelled and destroyed.
“How do you explain Madonna, with millions of followers, posting things about Farrakhan? Are these people stupid? There’s a double-standard and it’s pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. I’m scratching my head. Is it a bad dream? They’re legitimizing the Joseph Goebbels of 2020.”
Q: What would be your advice to young Jews in the Diaspora today?
“Everyone should do what they can, and everyone who can’t should support those who are doing. We’ll see what happens. People are nervous. People are having conversations… Do we have a future in America? That’s what’s going on. If Donald Trump loses the election, who are the people who will run this country? Bernie Sanders and a lot of the people who supported him will play a big role. How is that for the Jewish people? Jews should not be afraid. Jews should be proud.”
Q: You were the New York State Assemblyman for so long. If you could point to one good trend for American Jewry, what would it be?
“When I got married, running for public office was not even a thought in my mind. The opportunities are endless. Jews didn’t wear their yarmulkes in public office. A lot of that changed over the years. Being Jewish is not enough for me. I want people who are dedicated to the Jewish people, and dedicated to everyone in their community, whether they’re Irish, Italian, Muslim, etc.
“It’s not enough to say someone is Jewish. I want to know that a person is committed to stand up for the Jewish people when confronted with challenges. We’ve made progress. There’s more Orthodox people in office. But it doesn’t excite me. I’d rather have someone who has a big cross and committed to the Jewish people, a friend, than just somebody who happens to be Jewish.”