This weekend’s anniversary of the 1991 riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, uncovered some old wounds when Reverend Al Sharpton was asked to speak on a panel titled, “State of Black-Jewish Relations: Twenty Years after Crown Heights” at a synagogue in the Hamptons. Norman Rosenbaum, whose brother Yankel was killed in the violence, called Sharpton’s inclusion “an absolute disgrace,” arguing that, “His vile rhetoric incited the rioting.” While the reverend disputes this version of history, he has agreed not to participate in a letter to the synagogue’s Rabbi Marc Schneier, but fought back against his critics, who he says “want to engage in the business of division and distortion rather than … attempt to have dialogue even among those that may disagree.”
In his letter, obtained by Global Grind, Sharpton acknowledges the loss suffered by Norman Rosenbaum and writes that because his appearance “would cause pain to him, I, out of respect to his request, have decided to decline to participate in Sunday’s event.” But Sharpton also goes on to defend himself from accusations about his role in the riots:
Through a spokesperson, Rosenbaum called Sharpton’s decision “great news,” but added, “Sharpton ran from the perfect opportunity to apologize to the Jewish community.” Rabbi Schneier has agreed to reschedule the panel.
Fury over Sharpton speaking at Crown Heights riot-anniversary forum [NYP]
Rev. Sharpton Steps Back To Ease Black-Jewish Tension [Global Grind]
Al Sharpton won’t go to Crown Heights riot panel after objections from Yankel Rosenbaum’s brother [NYDN]