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Orthodox Jews say they were barred from the White House hate crime summit

WASHINGTON — President Biden criticized anti-Semitism at a White House-hosted United We Stand summit against hate crimes last week, but he has been accused by some Orthodox Jewish leaders of barring them from the event.

Rev. Al Sharpton called the summit after the massacre of 10 black shoppers in Buffalo in May and brought together hundreds of activists and community leaders from minority groups. But Orthodox Jews, who suffer from a large number of hate crimes, have struggled to make the cut.

Duvi Honig, CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, told The Post he tried to get in touch, contacting three Biden employees and even brandishing a confirmation from the office of Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to be a Uniter to be honored – an award given to 16 people at the event.

He didn’t answer back.

“The question is, is [Biden] Punishing the Orthodox community for their support [former President Donald] Trump card? Regardless, my concern is that as we head into the high holy days, would people read that attacks on orthodox Jews are not recognized by the White House? Because that encourages people to continue to be more aggressive,” said Honig.

“The White House used hate. They used us, our blood – they used our DNA of Jews who were persecuted and attacked daily as an excuse to have an event and didn’t include orthodox Jews who were number one [target of] Hate and anti-Semitism,” said Honig.

Some Orthodox Jewish leaders have criticized the Biden administration for not inviting them "united we stand" Summit on hate crimes and anti-Semitism at the White House last week.
Some Orthodox Jewish leaders have criticized the Biden administration for not inviting them to the United We Stand summit on hate crimes and anti-Semitism at the White House last week.
Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

At least one Orthodox Jew was admitted to the hundred-strong gathering — Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union — but Honig said that wasn’t enough. “A person trickled in!” he said disparagingly, adding that given the group’s population center and the epicenter of victimization, it would have been more appropriate to invite a community member from the New York area.

About 800 of about 2,700 antisemitic incidents in 2021 — or nearly a third of them — occurred in New Jersey or New York.

“They intentionally didn’t recognize an Orthodox Jew as a Uniter, which is noticeable when you then recognize him[ing] Islamic, reformed [Jews], [Christian leaders] and so on,” said Honig, whose group is trying to build economic bridges between communities. “Our community leaders from the various large communities in the Orthodox sectors where attacks are taking place daily were absent [from] summit and not invited.”

Duvi Honig, CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, said he tried to get in touch for the event but received no response from the White House.
Duvi Honig, CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, said he tried to get in touch for the event but received no response from the White House.
LinkedIn / Duvi honey

Honey said he believes Reform Jews, who were better represented at the summit, are less likely to experience hate crimes because they don’t wear the conspicuous clothing worn by many Orthodox Jews. “We were used and kicked and spat out. There’s just no better way to put it than you’re having a wedding and you’re not inviting the bride and groom — you just wanted a party,” he said.

A group of four orthodox Jewish journalists from Ami magazine, led by reporter Jake Turx, were also barred from the summit’s star attraction: a speech by Biden in the nearly 3,000-square-foot East Room.

Although the four journalists filed electronic RSVPs, they were each told that “distancing restrictions” meant they couldn’t join a crowd of other reporters selected through a mysterious pre-selection process that Biden’s press office recently eased following a press corps revolt would have.

The orthodox reporters solicited staff, including press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, ahead of the event — and were assisted in a valiant last-minute effort by a Jewish press officer — but were ultimately hailed from the White House driveway rather than the concourse the event reported with Biden.

It’s unclear who compiled the guest list for the summit or the list of approved reporters.

A White House official told the Post that a reporter from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was allowed into the room and that, in addition to Orthodox Union leader Diament, several other non-Orthodox Jews attended the summit. The union’s vice president, Moshe Hauer, was invited but was unable to attend.

Four orthodox Jewish journalists from Ami magazine were banned from the East Room because of Biden's speech "distance restrictions."
Four orthodox Jewish journalists from Ami magazine were not allowed to attend Biden’s speech in the East Room due to “space constraints”.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Joseph Borgen, a New Yorker who was attacked while wearing a kippah last year, has been inducted into a “survival” panel at the summit.

During his speech, Biden said he decided to run for president after hearing the “anti-Semitic bile” of white supremacists during the 2017 race struggles in Charlottesville, and said there was a “continuous lineage” in US society deep-rooted prejudices.

“Unfortunately, such hateful violence and threats are nothing new to America,” Biden said. “There is a continuous line of hatred from massacres of indigenous peoples to the original sin of slavery, to clan terror to anti-immigrant violence against Irish, Italians, Chinese, Mexicans and so many other histories.

“There is a consistent line of violence against religious groups: anti-Semites, anti-Catholics, anti-Mormons, anti-Muslims, anti-Hindus, anti-Sikhs.”

Anti-Semitic hate crime victim Joseph Borgen has been invited to address a panel discussion at the summit.
Anti-Semitic hate crime victim Joseph Borgen has been invited to address a panel discussion at the summit.
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Diament, who wears a kippah like honey but not the flowing black attire of other Orthodox Jews like the Ami Magazine contingent, resisted criticism of the guest list.

“I will not comment on journalists’ complaints … I have no idea how journalists are selected to be in a space like this,” Diament said.

“Regarding what Duvi Honig says, I can only say that I represent the Orthodox Union. We are the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the United States. And I was invited, as was Rabbi Moshe Hauer.”

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League, whose CEO Jonathan Greenblatt attended the summit, said: “ADL had no advanced knowledge of the roster, nor is ADL aware that specific groups were excluded. These questions must be directed to the White House.”

Biden at the summit with Susan Bro - the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer.
Biden at the summit with Susan Bro – the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer.
Photo by JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“ADL has been vocal about the threats to visibly Orthodox communities. We will continue to fight anti-Semitism directed against Orthodox Jews and all members of our community,” the group said.

Sharpton’s National Action Network did not respond to the Post’s inquiry about the summit.

Turx contacted Jean-Pierre after the summit to express his concern about the exit of his Orthodox Jewish team despite the high level of hate crimes in the community.

A White House official told The Post and Turx that he did not initially make the cut because the room’s capacity was limited — an ongoing point of contention between the White House and the White House Correspondents Association, which wants a return of events in the East Room wishes for an “open press,” meaning all journalists on White House grounds can attend, as has been the case in previous administrations.

The official declined to specify which White House officials were involved in the pre-screening of journalists, but said in the most detailed description of the practice yet that approximately 40 journalist seats were available — a decision made based on the size of the guest crowd — and that about 20 spots went to members of the daily press pool, including reporters and photographers.

There were more than 50 journalists who signed up for the approximately 20 remaining spots decided by the White House, the official said.

Turx eventually received a response from the press office days after the summit, saying it would try to include its release at other events – making Turx optimistic the experience will improve his community’s representation going forward.

“I’m relieved we were able to come to an agreement,” Turx said in a statement to The Post. “The Jewish people have enough enemies anyway. Luckily the White House Stamping Plant is not on that list.”

https://nypost.com/2022/09/20/orthodox-jews-say-they-were-excluded-from-white-house-hate-crimes-summit/ Orthodox Jews say they were barred from the White House hate crime summit

JACLYN DIAZ

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