Dov Hikind and the politics of bigotry and ignorance.
Is there anything Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind doesn’t hate? Or anyone? Is there a photo or press-opportunity he won’t let go to waste? Don’t answer that yet. The Brooklyn representative to New York’s 48th Assembly District recently decided to grace the voters and residents of New York’s 98th Assembly District — the one containing Monroe and Kiryas Joel, some 60+ miles from Brooklyn — for the purpose of berating the town’s already beleaguered residents. His only apparent goal? Spreading misinformation and — you guessed it — hate and bigotry cloaked in accusations of anti-Semitism.
If Dov Hikind’s name seems familiar to you, or his provocative remarks on any topic, the likely are. After all, this is the racially tolerant, paragon of virtue and cultural sensitivity, traveling far out of his own district to lecture people he’s never met about a subject he doesn’t know: The Kiryas Joel Annexation. And it’s the same person who dressed in blackface for a celebration in 2013.
Clearly, here’s a guy who knows more than a little about racism from personal experience. You’d think he’d have grown from such a humbling incident. And you’d be wrong. Dov Hikind simply doesn’t get it.
“It never crossed my mind for a split second that I was doing something wrong.” – Dov Hikind, Feb 2013 in response to his blackface appearance.
“If I was doing it all over again? I would look at, you know, additional alternatives because my real objective is — it’s not about being a black person or Indian, or maybe I would be a gay person . . . by the way, would that be okay, Zev? If I played a gay person next year?” – Dov Hikind in WSNR Radio Interview with Zev Brenner
Blacks, Indians, gays…anyone else Mr. Hikind would like to insult? Equal Opportunity Offender. That’s Dov Hikind.
Kiryas Joel Appearance
During the recent Kiryas Joel Public Hearing on their Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS), those who actually reside in Orange County — a place far enough from Kings County that we wonder if Hikind could find it on a map and not need directions — spoke in factual detail about the legitimate concerns with the legality and impact of such growth. Most of those in the chorus opposing the annexation petition provided specific details, including Orange County’s Executive and two members of the State Assembly who co-sponsored legislation to provide greater oversight. Citizens came armed with information.
But not Dov Hikind.
Dov Hikind only came armed with religious bias, racial accusations, and ignorance of the true issues, none of which were steeped in religion. In fact, Dov Hikind came within a blade’s edge of condemning those outside of Kiryas Joel as antisemitic for their opposition to the petition of the religious community. No details, no statistics, no discussion of the impact to the environment, social services, or surrounding region. But a lot to say about the alleged intolerance of those who actually live here.
Perhaps it’s because we don’t have one, Mr. Hikind. It unfortunately was destroyed by fire years ago. But had he known something about the community he so admonished, he might have understood that and other pertinent details. In fact, there was no evidence that Dov Hikind even read one page of the DGEIS to truly understand the issues. Though we doubt that would stop the Assemblyman from making an even larger fool of himself, or creating an opportunity for press-coverage.
Don’t underestimate Dov Hikind.
As a result of slamming the constituents of the 98th Assembly District, its Assemblyman, Karl Brabenec addressed a letter to Hikind suggesting that he become further informed of the facts rather than conflating “honest concern with naked prejudice”. Brabenec got it right, and the people in the 98th District know this.
In short, it’s not about religion.
Dov Hikind could have dropped the matter there. Yet again, he continued to emphasize both his ignorance and his bigotry in the form of yet more hatred. Never to leave something alone, Hikind poked the stick right back at Brabenec (see Hikind’s response to his colleague on whether the residents of the 98th District are anti-Semitic), and opened his own wound further by parading it on Facebook.
It failed miserably with Dov Hikind selectively deleting responses and blocking dissenting views from his page, underscoring the ultimate act of cowardice and further confirming his ignorance of the facts and insensitivity to anyone other than himself. The rhetoric to which he referred was not “anti-Semitic”, nor should any opposition to the annexation petition be immediately regarded as such, and the rhetoric from Hikind and others within Kiryas Joel simply add fuel to a fire of their own creation. Frankly, if Mr. Hikind didn’t appreciate the rhetoric of anti-Semitism, he’d have been best off listening and educating himself on the true issues, not making provocative statements and accusations about people he neither knows nor met.
And the posts he removed or blocked? All commented directly on the facts opposing the unchecked growth, and admonished Hikind for hate-baiting
Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism.
Interestingly enough, Hikind has also made statements on the record on other legislation where he’s thrown up the anti-Semitic argument with extreme fervor, one of which proves interesting given his appearance in Kiryas Joel. In comments about Anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sections (BDS) legislation, we quote:
“Today, no one wants to be called an anti-Semitic, so they’ve found a way around it. Today it’s called anti-Zionism.”
This is an interesting position in light of his appearance in Kiryas Joel defending the Satmar Hasidim, a group that is fervently anti-Zionist. So if “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” are to be considered as equal in his eyes, do Dov Hikind’s own arguments in defending the Kiryas Joel annexation petition make the Satmars more guilty of the behavior of which he has accused most of Orange County? If not, how does he reconcile those contradictions? And it isn’t the only time he has made the leap from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.
And if Anti-Zionism is so heinous, why support the Hasidim at all?
It’s no secret that the Borough Park District Dov Hikind represents contains a largely Hasidic Jewish population, and that population votes in large numbers as a bloc for those who can ensure the future of that community, whether that is through education tax credits (Hikind supports for the use by private Yeshivas), continued social services spending (Hikind also supports) or other issues important to his constituency. Those votes have sustained Hikind’s presence in Albany, shilling for the Hasidic communities in Borough Park and Williamsburg at the expense of the rest of New York.
So it’s little surprise that Hikind would be eager to curry favor with those voters by painting all opposition to their unchecked expansion — Brooklyn, Orange County, East Ramapo — under condemnation of anti-Semitism, whether or not that is true and without regard for facts.
All to maintain political power.
“Back to Brooklyn.” That comment wasn’t about where to send those now living in Kiryas Joel. It was addressed directly to Dov Hikind.
While his divisive, culturally insensitive, incendiary comments might serve his 48th District constituency, Hikind would be better served by understanding the facts surrounding the Kiryas Joel Annexation petition. That includes listening to the concerns of those impacted, and they live in the 98th and 99th Districts, covering most of Orange County. It includes reading and understanding the fundamentally flawed and incomplete nature of the DGEIS filed to address the annexation, completion of a water pipeline, and various other factors that should be considered in such an undertaking. And it includes consideration for all New Yorkers.
And that includes those outside the 48th District.
Go to Brooklyn and Albany. Stay in Brooklyn, hopefully not Albany but that’s up to his voters. But don’t accuse those he’s never met as anti-Semites, as it makes him appear more ignorant than he has already proven himself.
For more about Dov Hikind, try the following links:
- 8 Things You Need to Know About Brooklyn’s Racist and Gay-Hating Assemblyman Dov Hikind
- Blackface Assemblyman: Cool If “I Played A Gay Person Next Year?”
- Maimonides subpoenaed in Hikind Probe (Crains NY)
Responsible replies invited.