Healing racial tensions between the black and Jewish communities of Crown Heights is imperative for the two groups to co-exist. No one disputes that. In fact, after the 1991 Crown Heights riots the Lubavitcher rebbe, in looking toward the future, told Mayor David Dinkins that the black and Jewish communities are “one side, one people, living in one city.”
With that said, there is no basis to equate the Jewish community’s
culpability with that of the black rioters. Gavin Cato was killed in a tragic accident that had nothing to do with his race. The grand jury composed of mostly minorities found no cause to indict Yosef Lifsh, the driver of the car, because what occurred was an accident even though a tragic death resulted.
A tragic accident that left a youngster dead is not morally equal to the vicious stabbing of Yankel Rosenbaum — a Jewish man — by a marauding mob yelling anti-Semitic epithets. One is negligence or an accident; the other is an intentional hate-based homicide.
It is disturbing that some equate Rosenbaum’s murder with Cato’s horrible accident. Representing the story as a mutual race riot is inaccurate and irresponsible. Out of the 152 police officers and 38 civilians that were injured, how many were injured by Jewish rioters? How many Jews were involved in the looting or burning of the seven stores? How many of the 27 vehicles destroyed were destroyed by Jews? Out of the 225 cases of robbery and burglaries that were perpetrated, how many were committed by Jews? The responsibility lies in the hands of the rioters, not the Jewish victims.