A BLATANT DISPLAY OF DISRESPECT AT ASSEMBLY MEETING
The elderly rabbi looked puzzled for a moment. Anchorage Assembly member Chris Constant had just described a scene from the Holocaust to him, and was asking his opinion as though it was a fair point of policy: Should we officially treat the homeless like the Nazis treated the Jews?
Rabbi Yosef Greenberg stumbled to try to understand what the elected official was getting at, as the younger man laid out a clearly illegal plan to herd the homeless and put them behind fences in Constant’s neighborhood.
Was he serious? Or was this Assembly member just badgering him? Greenberg was trying to process what he was being told in what had to have been one of the most bizarre exchanges in a very long, very testy Assembly meeting on Tuesday.
Across the country, bigotry against people of faith is becoming normalized in progressive politics. In a trend that is finally being recognized by moderates, an undercurrent of anti-semitism is bubbling on the Left, not just with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The Squad in Congress, but at local city councils and assemblies. Anti-semitism coming from the progressive side of the political fulcrum is now routine.
Constant was openly confronting Greenberg, who was simply appearing in the Assembly Chambers to protect the Lubavitch Jewish Center of Alaska from being overrun by criminals.
Greenberg had been describing his concerns over a plan to purchase a hotel one block from the Jewish Center’s preschool, museum, and cultural center, and turn it into a drug rehabilitation and shelter for over 100 people.
Greenberg started his three-minute testimony by thanking the Assembly for its compassion in trying to solve Anchorage’s epidemic of homelessness. However, he said the particular property the Assembly wants to purchase is in a family neighborhood, and would make his congregation feel unsafe. They already feel unsafe, he said, because there are so many vagrants around the neighborhood, and often using the Jewish Center’s property for their encampments and drug use.
That’s when Assemblyman Constant interrupted Greenberg’s testimony and read aloud a letter he’d gotten from a constituent who suggested a piece of property on Third Avenue should have a fence put around it and the homeless put inside of it. What did Greenberg think of that idea? Constant asked.
The rabbi was clearly taken aback, and for a moment didn’t seem to comprehend the theater that Constant was engaged in. Constant is an expert at political theater, but this time, was taking it too far.
Greenberg explained he is not an expert in homelessness but whatever is done should be done with compassion, and he is aware that Anchorage is struggling with a problem that is happening across the country.
Then, he realized this was a reference to the Holocaust, and that Constant was goading him.
“So the way might be, send them all to one place and put a fence around them,” Constant said, on the record during the Assembly meeting on Tuesday.
Constant was referring to Hitler’s “final solution,” a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II and he wanted to make sure the point was being absorbed by the elderly rabbi.
The rabbi finally understood what Constant was saying, and he didn’t like it.
“I really don’t understand what Mr. Constant is trying to point out. It was kind of offensive what you said. Disrespectful and offensive. I didn’t send you this email,” Greenberg said, of the note that Constant had read into the record.
“Why are you asking me about emails someone else sent you?”
Assembly Chair Felix Rivera struggled to maintain order as the audience, there to protest the sweeping shelter plan being proposed, was starting to become restless and angry.
The liberal members of the Assembly did not rebuke Constant for baiting Rabbi Greenberg. No one rose to call out Constant, who has at times said he has Jewish heritage in his family.
Constant has a history of bigotry against people of faith, as seen by his history of social media posts:
Constant was unopposed during the most recent Anchorage municipal election and used his large campaign purse to aid in the reelection of his fellow members on the Assembly: Pete Petersen, Felix Rivera, Suzanne LaFrance, and Austin Quinn-Davidson. Perhaps this is why none of these Assembly members would denounce the man who helped them win their seats.
Assembly member Meg Zalatel, who earlier had harshly admonished Assembly member Jamie Allard for making a motion to discontinue the mayor’s emergency powers, sat mute. Constant was never admonished by his liberal allies.
Only Allard, the member representing Eagle River, spoke up and asked the rabbi to explain why he feels the Red Lion Hotel on 36th Avenue is the wrong place for a drug rehabilitation center and shelter.
The rest of the Assembly and the mayor stayed muzzled in their face masks, not willing to challenge Constant. (Conservative Crystal Kennedy was appearing by phone, and not able to witness directly what had happened.)
FROM CITY HALL TO THE NATION’S CAPITOL
The far Left, including Antifa at the fringes, is increasingly posturing as anti-Israel with its BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement to restore Israeli land to Palestinians.
Black Lives Matter has also become increasingly anti-semitic, with its directly stated anti-Israel platform. The Women’s March opposes the Nation of Israel, as well, and has incorporated BDS into its platform.
This week, Bari Weiss resigned from the New York Times editorial page, saying she had experience anti-semitism from the progressives at the newspaper. She had been called a Nazi by members of the reporting and editing staff.
But it’s not just at the national level. Tuesday’s display of faith-baiting by a sitting lawmaker in Anchorage, Alaska, shows the problem of anti-semitism is just below the surface on the Left all the way down to City Hall.