New Jersey’s entire delegation in the U.S. House called for public apologies or resignations from two council members for Trenton, the state’s capital, after they made light of their leader’s anti-Semitic remark during an official meeting.
“I said, ‘Mr. Developer, I respect you, I appreciate you for valuing our city, for offering the best price possible and not trying to go backwards to Jew us down,’” said Jackson.
During a Sept. 5 executive session closed to the public, Council President Kathy McBride used the phrase in reference to a legal settlement, according to an account published on Sept. 13 by the blog NewJerseyGlobe.com. The phrase, used by some to mean to bargain for a lower price, is considered offensive by Jewish people. McBride apologized during a public meeting on Sept. 17.
Two others, though, have stuck by McBride’s remarks. Councilman George Muschal, New Jersey Globe reported, called the phrase “just a statement of speech.” Another, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn, on Facebook called the phrase “a verb” that isn’t “indicative of hating Jewish people.”
“Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and right here in New Jersey,” its 12 members of the House — 11 Democrats and one Republican — said in a statement. “We must never accept bigotry or hatred in any form.” If the two council members fail to apologize, they should resign from the capital city’s governing body, the delegates said.
McBride, Muschal and Vaughn didn’t immediately respond to emails and telephone calls seeking comment.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Murphy said the remark was an “anti-Semitic phrase, period.” His statement did not call for any action.
“To hear current elected officials use an anti-Semitic trope so willingly, and seemingly without recognizing the history behind its hateful meaning, is hurtful and beyond disappointing,” Murphy said.
In Paterson on Sept. 11, councilman Michael Jackson used a similar phrase at a public meeting, and later said he had meant “no malice.”
(c) 2019, Bloomberg · Elise Young