Old Rival Bashes Brooklyn Congressman for ‘Going Against Obama’ Over UN Israel Vote

Then Councilman Charles Barron and then Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries during a debate for an open congressional seat in Brooklyn.

Then Councilman Charles Barron and then Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries during a scrbate for an open congressional seat in Brooklyn. NY1/Screengrab

Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron spent Christmas Eve slamming the man who trounced him in a 2012 race for the House: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who had asserted in a television interview that the United States should have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

On Friday, the 15-member Council adopted the resolution which states that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 have “no legal validity” and are a “major obstacle” to a two-state solution by a vote of 14 in favor and a single abstention: the United States, which in the past has unilaterally blocked such measures. Jeffries, a black Democrat with a large Jewish constituency, , described this a betrayal of a key ally by the Obama administration—provoking a blistering approach from Barron, a former member of the Black Panther Party who has criticized Israel and praised Hamas.

The radical state lawmaker linked the congressman’s stance to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump.

“Trump and Netanyahu found a supporter in local Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. In an embarrassing, disgraceful, shameful interview on NY1, Congressman Jeffries stated that Israel was ‘our closest ally’ and the Obama Administration should have vetoed the resolution,” Barron, a former member of the Black Panthers and the National Black United Front, wrote in a Facebook post.

The post quoted Jeffries’ remarks on NY1 the night before.

“Israel is still our closest ally in the Middle East and from my perspective, the United States should continue to play the role of diplomatic shield before the United Nations,” said Jeffries. “I would have advised the president and his UN ambassador to veto that particular Security Council resolution.”

Barron, who has been a frequent critic of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, accused his former opponent for defying President Barack Obama and supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump. 

“Not only was Congressman Jeffries going against President Obama, he was also going against the 15 nation members of the U.N. Security Council and the overwhelming majority of the nations in the world. All for his good friend Israel,” Barron continued.

Last year, Jeffries surprised observers by flouting many of his Jewish constituents by supporting the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear agreement, which Netanyahu vociferously opposed. A year before, though, he declared that Israel has a right to exist as a democratic Jewish state at a rally hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and UJA-Federation of New York and has participated in various events of pro-Israel lobbyist group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The bad blood between the pair goes back to when the two were running for the open congressional seat in Brooklyn held by the retiring Congressman Ed Towns back in 2012. The two came from different strands of black politics: ironically, Jeffries often compared to Obama and Barron associated with the radical tradition of the 1960s.

In a debate, Barron called Jeffries a “sore loser” over his dismissal of Towns’ endorsement of him. Jeffries blasted Barron for his criticism of Obama and support of Gaddafi, while Barron accused him of using Obama “to give himself credibility” and insisting that is is OK to be “constructively critical of the president.”

In 2011, Barron claimed Obama was acting as a “mouthpiece for a racist, imperialistic American foreign policy controlled by generals and corporate elites” in 2011, also saying that the president went to an expensive fundraiser in Harlem but failed to speak with residents. Barron also garnered some controversy when David Duke endorsed him for his anti-Israel sentiment—but Barron dismissed that endorsement as “foolish.”

That year, an array of Jewish officials, including former Mayor Ed Koch, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Councilman David Greenfield, Assemblyman Dov Hikind and others, gathered in Battery Park for a press conference described as an effort to “Denounce Charles Barron as Enemy of the State of Israel” and the Jewish community. Barron ultimately lost by roughly 40 points.

Barron also blasted the congressman on Saturday for calling Congressman Daniel Donovan a “good guy” during the NY1 interview. Donovan was the Staten Island district attorney who failed to secure an indictment of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who had killed the African-American Eric Garner.

Jeffries said on television that he hopes he and Donovan can find a way to “advance an agenda for New York City moving forward.” And he said that he is willing to extend “an arm and a hand of partnership” if Trump—whom he called a “two-bit racial arsonist” during the presidential race—advances policies that will directly benefit his constituents, though he noted that Democrats “cannot capitulate” to his controversial proposals.

“This is the former D.A. that many of us believe deliberately failed to get indictments on the NYPD officers responsible for the ‘I can’t breathe’ chokehold that killed Eric Garner,” Barron wrote on Facebook. “It is said that a D.A. can ‘get an indictment on a ham sandwich.’ But not a ‘killer cop?!’ SHAME ON YOU CONGRESSMAN!!!”

Still, Jeffries reiterated on Friday that the videotape clearly showed Garner being “choked to death” by Pantaleo and that that is “living, breathing, probable cause” that a civil rights violation occurred.

“For the life of me, I can’t understand why the Department of Justice would not proceed with civil rights charges that should at least be an indictment and allow a jury of that officers’ peers to determine whether a crime was actually committed,” he said.

The congressman’s office belittled Barron as little more than a crank.

“In 2012, Charles Barron ran for Congress against then-Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Barron suffered a humiliating defeat and was crushed by more than 40 points in the Democratic primary,” said spokesman Michael Hardaway. “His reckless and irresponsible rhetoric was dismissed by the people of the Eighth Congressional District then, and it merits no response today.”

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media. 

Old Rival Bashes Brooklyn Congressman for ‘Going Against Obama’ Over UN Israel Vote