Following a spate of ugly anti-Semitic acts in Newton, two of which went unreported by School Superintendent David Fleishman and a third which shocked many at a Newton North High School basketball game, a fire was lit under Mayor Setti Warren to do something about it. He called for a meeting at City Hall.
Warren finally responded to an unprecedented outcry from parents of schoolchildren and Jewish residents complaining that Superintendent Fleishman should have reported the prior incidents. “Burn the Jews” graffiti and Swastikas marked both incidents in the public schools investigated by local police.
Fleishman’s asleep at the wheel reaction to the first two anti-Semitic events were egregious.
The third event, with dozens of Catholic Memorial fans shouting that the Jews killed Jesus at a Newton-CM basketball game was the charm, so to speak.
This incident could not be hidden or swept under a rug by the folks at Newton City Hall. Too many people witnessed the incident and then word of it got out to the general public.
Warren was forced to act or to fall on the sword for the essentially spineless superintendent – and Warren wasn’t about to fall on the sword for anyone, let alone his superintendent.
Mayor Warren carefully planned for a meeting at City Hall that was held on Thursday evening, April 7. Warren’s plan to dedicate the evening to defeating discrimination – rather than to discuss the anti-Semitic events at hand – while at the same time noting Newton’s fabulous 100 year record on civil rights, fell to pieces.
His imperfectly strung web intended to placate rather than to probe failed to sustain the weight of its suffocating political correctness.
The great majority of those in the crowd, estimated at 150 by the Boston Globe, but attended, in fact, by more than 200, were in no mood to be fooled by Warren into believing that specific acts of anti-Semitism are not of sufficient significance to be the focus of a community discussion.
Most came to express their disgust and wonder, and some, their fears at the outbreaks of anti-Semitism. The Warren effort to persuade and to assuage the crowd about anti-Semitic acts, now being described as discrimination, led to a near riot among the huge crowd that assembled at City Hall.
Shouting and screaming, jostling for position, struggling to have their fears and complaints heard, Jewish parents and residents protested powerfully the sanitizing and patronizing lectures they received from a host of speakers chosen by Warren to make the meeting a celebration of Newton against discrimination, instead of investigating the origins of and solutions to anti-Semitic acts perpetrated against Newton schoolchildren who are Jewish.
I don’t suppose educated people in Newton need to be reminded, but just in case, anti-Semitism is a special form of hate reserved exclusively for Jews. Anti-Semitism is not about discriminating against black people, transgenders, homosexuals, Puerto Ricans, South Americans, Moslems, or any other protected group.
Warren, Fleishman and all the speakers failed miserably in persuading the angry crowd demanding justice or at least the promise of putting a stop to anti-Semitism in a rich, educated, privileged, white and very Jewish city. Frankly, the meeting was a stunning example of stale politics.
With an outraged crowd of unsatisfied, largely Jewish, residents there to protest about anti-Semitism in their city, instead, they were lectured as though they were brain-dead zombies by a variety of the well-intentioned who had been chosen by Warren.
Warren, who has aspirations to higher office, was apparently made very uptight by Boston media coverage portraying the problems in Newton with anti-Semitic incidents, mainly in the schools, rather improbably but happening, and with evil frequency, just the same.
Warren is a political schemer, always seeking the best way out of a bad situation in the hope of bettering himself. For a politician, this is understandable.
The superintendent, on the other hand, is perpetually out to lunch. He wears a nice suit but it is one that is empty.
The attempt to shift the discussion from anti-Semitism to civil rights backfired so badly the superintendent had to be led to his car with police protection amid shouts from an angry citizenry.
This might have been expected in the Chelsea of olden days but not in too comfortable to get ruffled Newton!
Let’s face it, Warren was on a mission.
Warren is a clone of Senator Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t have to support Israel as a Democrat to be elected to higher office, even from a place like Newton - which is big-time Jewish. In the current anti-Israel/Jew environment (this includes, amazingly enough, Jews against Israel) being seen as pro-Israel or pro-Jew is not required for a successful political career in Massachusetts. Warren is a bit like the new congressman on the block from the North Shore, Seth Moulton.
He’s all for Israel. He just can’t vote for Israel – and then he asks all Jews to “vote for me.”
The mayor invited a Jewish psychiatrist to speak about how we shouldn’t be hurting one another and how all discrimination is evil. He loaded up the dais with a dozen very liberal Newton types and the police chief who spoke about discrimination – not anti-Semitism.
Warren, I understand, told everyone he reached out to in his inimitable style “that we need to emphasize how we must all get along together and that discrimination is wrong in Newton.”
What he didn’t tell anyone to do, I am told, is to identify and to deplore by name anti-Semitic acts that were clearly anti-Semitic acts.
This is par for the course in Newton where the politically correct always triumphs over the harsh reality of anything else confronting the residents there.
Warren’s refusal to recognize anti-Semitism for what it is shows his shortcomings as a leader of a community with a large Jewish population. His efforts to run a discrimination informational failed miserably.
Another matter of some importance to Jews and parents of schoolchildren is Warren’s refusal to force his school superintendent to reveal exactly how and what students in Newton’s schools are learning about Israel from teachers dedicated to towing the politically correct line about Israel being an oppressor state is something the Newton School Committee should be ordered to take up.
The meeting at Newton City Hall was not the beginning of the end. It was the end of the beginning, as Churchill once said of the German fight against the Nazis.
There is a long, long way to go in Newton before reality rears its powerful head again when it comes to anti-Semitism. The City Hall meeting will not change anything in Newton.
Newton must face a new and disconcerting truth. The haters are there, seated in their fine homes, hidden inside, poisoning their children and then sending them off to school.