What the radical history of New York City’s mayoral candidate says about him.
Bill de Blasio won 38% of the Jewish vote in the New York City Democratic Primary. Despite the liberal reputation of Jewish voters in the Big Apple, these numbers were roughly even with those of other religions and demographics.
The latest Marist poll, which shows de Blasio with a 43% lead, also shows the Jewish vote leaning toward him by only 55%. Republican challenger Joe Lhota scores 36% of the Jewish vote -- his best numbers among any group except White Catholics (41%) and Conservatives (39%).
De Blasio's weak polling may reflect the growing numbers of New York City's Orthodox Jews, who tend toward a natural conservatism, but it may also reflect wariness toward any candidate who favors undermining the police and dispensing with the city's needed fiscal reforms.
Bill de Blasio began his career in New York City politics with David Dinkins whose administration's policies were responsible for the city's first pogrom against the Jewish community of Crown Heights. In the subsequent election, Giuliani won 68% of the Jewish vote while Dinkins took home 32%.
With Giuliani actively campaigning for Joe Lhota, one of his former deputy mayors and a man with a striking resemblance to his bulldog personality, while Dinkins associate Bill de Blasio holds down the Democratic ticket campaigning on weaker law enforcement and more social welfare, the election looks like a rerun of the 1993 grudge match between Dinkins and Giuliani.
For now Bill de Blasio is pulling in more of the Jewish vote than his old boss did, but that may change once Jewish voters realize what he really stands for.
Bill de Blasio is probably the most radical left-wing Democratic nominee for the office in the history of the city. Not long before Bill de Blasio joined Team Dinkins, he was a member of Team Sandinista.
The Sandinistas, or FSLN, a radical Marxist terrorist organization, took over the country and drove out most of Nicaragua's Jewish community. By the time they were done, the ADL blasted Nicaragua as “a country without Jews, but not without anti-Semitism.”
This was the revolution that de Blasio supported while volunteering at the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York. The NSN, staffed by Marxists, served as the mouthpiece for the Sandinista regime funneling its propaganda into the United States and conducting tours celebrating the ruling party and denouncing the opposition.
The New York Times describes Bill de Blasio as one of the first eager subscribers to Barricada, the Sandinista paper. This was the Barricada that denounced the "traditional ‘Jew-style’" of the United States Congress for not immediately providing the money to finance an election in Nicaragua.
“They had a youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational,” Bill de Blasio said of the Sandinistas. That energy included throwing firebombs at a synagogue during Shabbat services while shouting "Death to the Jews," "Jewish Pigs" and "What Hitler started we will finish."
Bill de Blasio worked as a political organizer for a left-wing group raising money to aid a regime that had deprived the Jews of their property, their homes and even their house of worship. The president of the synagogue that the Sandinistas had attacked was forced to sweep the streets, a scene reminiscent of Nazi behavior in occupied Europe, before being forced to leave the country with the clothes on his back.
The synagogue was seized and transformed into a Sandinista youth center decorated with Anti-Zionist posters. The Jewish community of Nicaragua fled to Miami and Costa Rica.
After Bill de Blasio had moved on from Nicaraguan politics to New York politics, his new boss watched as mobs tore through a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn only a few miles away from where he now lives while shouting, "Death to the Jews."
It would be nice to think of all this as ancient history. But it isn't.
Bill de Blasio has blasted NYPD surveillance of mosques sayings that "all surveillance efforts and anything that is not based on specific leads should not continue.” Such a policy would prevent the NYPD from engaging in any meaningful information gathering until it was too late.
And this time it isn't the synagogues of Nicaragua that are on the line. It's the synagogues of New York.
In 2009, four Muslim men were arrested by the FBI and charged with, among other things, plotting to blow up synagogues in the Bronx. Their targets included the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple. One of the Muslims boasted, “With no hesitation, I will kill 10 Yahudis (Jews).”
In 2011, two Muslim men were arrested by the NYPD and charged with a plot to blow up Manhattan synagogues. "I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City," one of them said.
What both cases had in common was that they relied on informants drawing out potential terrorists, instead of waiting blindly for them to strike. If Bill de Blasio has his way, that will no longer be something that the NYPD will be able to do. And like the worshipers of Nicaragua's Congregación Israelita, the first that the Jews at Shabbat services will know of the plot will be when they smell the smoke and hear the cry, "Death to the Jews."
But while Bill de Blasio may have his scruples about spying on mosques, his Sandinista friends had recruited informants to gather information about the Jews of Nicaragua to begin a campaign of intimidation that led to the attack on a synagogue, to arrests, threats and ultimately the ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Nicaragua. If Bill de Blasio ever criticized his beloved Sandinistas for these crimes, it isn't in the record.
At one of Bill de Blasio's final meetings with the NSN, he spoke of a need to "build alliances with Islam." That red-green alliance has since pervaded Latin America. In 2012, Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praised Saddam Hussein and denounced the US "occupation" of Afghanistan.
Ortega defended Iran's nuclear program while predicting that peace would come to the region if Israel were forced to give up its nuclear weapons.
This was the glorious revolution that Bill de Blasio never gave up on. “People who had shallow party sympathies with the F.S.L.N. pretty much dropped everything when they lost," one of his old NSN friends said. "Bill wasn’t like that.”
“They gave a new definition to democracy,” Bill de Blasio told the New York Times. And now he risks giving a new definition to democracy in New York City.
Cities and countries are precarious places. That is something that Jews have found out in countless places from Nicaragua to Iran. The Jews of Brooklyn discovered in 1991 how precarious a place New York City could be. The decades of peace since then only became possible because Bill de Blasio's old boss was forced out of office.
If Bill de Blasio moves from Park Slope to Gracie Mansion, his old dreams for Nicaragua could become his new dreams for New York.
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