A Spring Valley village trustee who is running for the Rockland County Legislature is having a rough time weathering the storm following his controversial comments about Jewish influence.
Demeza Delhomme in an interview Monday with The Jewish Week blasted the Monsey rabbi who made public his remarks on cable TV as "evil."
On the same day, he reportedly told the Journal News of Rockland that he considered the rabbi, Justin Schwartz, a person "with 20 horns on his head, raping our community at large."
The latest comments follow statements made in Creole on a show aimed at fellow Haitian Americans.
Delhomme accuses "the white man, the Jew" of creating policies that leave others behind. He adds later that "the poor person who used to give to the collection at church cannot do so anymore: it goes into the Jew’s pocket," according to a transcript distributed to local officials and the media, including The Jewish Week, by Rabbi Schwartz.
Delhomme also declares that "all Jews" utilize food stamps and federally subsidized Section 8 housing.
Rabbi Schwartz, co-director of the Rockland County Hebrew High School, said he received a tape of the program from a regular viewer and had it translated by an independent agency in New Jersey.
The Journal News said it had verified the accuracy of Rabbi Schwartz’s transcript.
Hearing of the comments, Michael Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said: "For those who believe that using crude caricatures to describe Jews is limited to leaders of Malaysia, Mr. Delhomme has proven them wrong." Miller was referring to recent anti-Semitic comments by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Members of the Haitian community have also denounced Delhomme’s comments.
Delhomme, 55, a Democrat, told The Jewish Week his remarks were translated improperly, and he cited a long history of working with the Jewish community in Spring Valley.
"When we came here, the Jewish community opened its arms to us," he said, referring to a recent influx of Haitian Americans in the area. He said his intention had been to offer the Jewish communityís organizational success as a model for his own community.
"They do things right, they get together, they put people in various places where they can get better services," Delhomme said.
He said that depending on the dialect, any statement in Creole "can be interpreted in 27 ways."
But Rockland Assemblyman Ryan Karben, who is Jewish, isn’t buying that explanation.
"Unless every word is translated incorrectly, you can’t escape the hateful language contained in this transcript," Karben said. "He has to recognize how offensive these comments are, and so far he hasn’t done so."
Delhomme blasted Rabbi Schwartz as "trying to do evil stuff" because he did not approach him to discuss the comments before making them public. "As a man of God, you don’t do things like that."
Delhomme on Nov. 9 faces two minor party candidates, David Fried (Independence) and Jacques Michel (Working Families), both of whom Delhomme defeated in the September primary.
"I’m outraged and appalled that this man has a possibility of being elected," said Rabbi Schwartz.
Because of the flap, some local Democrats have backed off a plan to name Delhomme to replace the incumbent legislator, Alan Simon, whose term ended this week, until the new session begins in January. And some are calling on Delhomme to bow out of the race.
"There is such a dark cloud over his candidacy, I don’t know how he continues," said Karben.
State Sen. Eric Schneiderman will debate the efficacy of the proposed nonpartisan elections referendum with Fred Siegel, a member of the Charter Revision Commission, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Makor/Steinhardt Center Lecture Hall, 35 W. 67th St. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat, opposes the measure, and Siegel is for the referendum. It is the second of two forums sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council. Last week, Siegel debated Mark Green, former public advocate and founder of the New Democracy Project. For information, call (212) 868-4080. Voters will decide on the measure next month. Siegel also will debate Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the state Democratic Committee, on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at Temple Beth Emeth in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
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Queens Borough President Helen Marshall marked the 30th anniversary of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty with a tribute at Borough Hall on Wednesday. Marshall also honored the Jewish Community Councils of Queens and the late Marvin Cohen, a longtime Jewish community leader and Queens activist.
# Met Council has named Kalman Yeger its director of external affairs.
# UJA-Federation has named Juda Engelmayer its director of public affairs, a new position in which he will work to build relationships with city officials and further lobbying efforts with Ron Soloway, the agency’s managing director for external and governmental relations. Engelmayer was formerly an account executive at Rubenstein Associates.