The Smokescreen of “Anti-Semitism” and the Destruction of a Community Farm
By Emma Rosenthal
Ralph Horowitz credits alleged anti-Semitic remarks directed at him as his unique reason for refusing to sell the South Central farm to the farmers. It is important to note that there has been considerable support for the farm from members of the Jewish community, including a number of Rabbis, and the web page of the South Central Farmers, in response to these allegations, has an uncompromising condemnation of anti-Semitism. Additionally, none of the statements, or speeches by the leaders and spokespeople for the farm, nor the banners and posters that lined the fence around the farm contained any of the vitriol Horowitz ascribes to the movement as a whole. It would be impossible for the leaders of this movement to control or to be responsible for every statement, letter, email and web page of those who claim to support the farm. Perhaps a few errant individuals may have made such hateful, disparaging and unacceptable statements, but to associate the actions of a few with the farmers themselves or their appointed spokespeople would be to replicate the exact same bigotry such alleged statements embody.
Additionally, to believe Horowitz, that these remarks were what changed his mind, contradicts the intractable position he maintained throughout the entire campaign to save the farm, not withstanding, what he himself claimed was a weak moment when he briefly offered to consider a sale that would have amounted to a multi million dollar profit for him.
Equally preposterous is the claim that he was personally insulted or victimized by these alleged accusations and insults. Nothing in Horowitz’ behavior during this entire episode indicates that he was at all concerned with what anyone thought of him: not as a businessman, community member nor as a member of any particular ethnic group. It is also improbable that these racist insults offended Mr. Horowitz’ sense of moral outrage, as it would appear from his behavior that he has little concern for social justice or human rights. As for being a victim; Mr. Horowitz saw to profit considerably from the sale of the farm. (Through back room deals in 2003 the city sold the farm to Horowitz for the same 5 million dollars it cost them to purchase it under eminent domain in the late 1980’s.) His original request for 16.3 million dollars from poor subsistence farmers was an obscenity. His refusal to sell it after weeks of fundraising displayed a flagrant lack of good faith.
The cry of “anti-Semitism” from someone so wealthy and powerful as Mr. Horowitz is nothing more than one more political strategy, one sly attempt to save face, the false play of the race card, the distortion of the real body politic and in the end, a desensitization to real acts of racism and bigotry against Jews, especially those Jews not protected by wealth and power. While crying about social and personal responsibility; disregarding the hard work, sweat and financial equity put into the farm by the farmers: the profound relationship of farmer to soil, the infrastructure of trees and perennials, the value of the crops in time and sustenance; Mr. Horowitz seems to take no responsibility for his own behavior. For while Mr. Horowitz is entitled to all the greed and selfishness of his wealthy Anglo-Saxon counterparts; free from racist attacks on his character, or his ethnic group, it seems ironic that while he has embodied many negative Jewish stereotypes, it doesn’t occur to him that it is not he who is a victim of these generalizations, as the stereotypes so clearly do apply to him individually. Racists and bigots are uniquely responsible for their bigotry and as such, Mr. Horowitz is not responsible for the bigotry of these alleged messengers. But his misuse of this most grievous accusation within this specific social construct does little to discourage such conclusions and only serves as a meager justification for Horowitz’ lust for power and money. If anyone is to be offended by anti-Jewish comments directed at Mr. Horowitz, it is the world’s 14 million Jews who have cause to feel slighted by association with Mr. Horowitz and his un-neighborly behavior, in the unfortunate event that his individual traits of greed and wealth be applied to us all.
<>©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserve