2001-10-06 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! You know, I've been thinking long and hard about the City Council primary election that was held almost two weeks ago. I thought about how James Sanders, Jr. has literally become the "Comeback Kid," after many felt he had no chance of beating Charlotte Jefferson or James Blake. Sanders has one more hurdle to sprint, and situations leading up to the general election in November will truly test his endurance, strength, character and sense of integrity.

While it is still far too early to tell whether or not Sanders will be able to make a difference in Far Rockaway, and the outer regions that make up District 31, I have a feeling that a win in the general election for him would mean good things for the district. I say that because he is a no nonsense type of guy who comes at you with honesty and truth, and he has been relentless when it comes to initiating change within the community. Hey folks, does this description remind you of anyone?

In the weeks that have passed since Sanders' victory, certain comments have been made, directly and indirectly, that have really made me want to scream in anger. Most of them have been aimed at the Jewish community, who were some of the biggest supporters of Sanders' candidacy. Allow me to illustrate the point.

One longtime resident said, "They backed him big-time! You know what that means, right? That means the Jews have Sanders in their pocket." Man, it is amazing how "stupid" can just jump out of someone's mouth sometimes. I want someone to tell me how this statement is any different from that Nazi propaganda that was spread about the Jews during the Holocaust. This type of thinking created an atmosphere of intense hatred, and there is absolutely no place for it now. I don't know the specifics of what went on to bring Sanders and the Jewish community together, and I really don't care to know. All I know is that the two entities came together for the sake of creating a better Rockaway, and that's all I care about.

If you liked the last comment, you'll love this one. Stupid comment number two goes something like this. "Those Jews are buying up all the property in Rockaway. They are trying to make sections of Rockaway predominately Jewish. That's why they are trying to get all of the Black people out of the projects. They want to gain control over the housing developments, change them to co-ops and rid the eastern end of the peninsula of so-called "undesirables," spewed a resident who chose to remain anonymous.

This comment was birthed as result of three situations. First, the Jewish population in Far Rockaway is growing. Secondly, many of the new homes that are being built in the Rockaways are being purchased by members of the Jewish community. Thirdly, many residents that are living in housing developments (the projects) are losing their homes as result of regulations that have been put in place by the New York City Housing Authority. It basically states that if you are caught dealing drugs from your dwelling, you are out! It doesn't matter if you had no knowledge of the acts, or if you are the owner of the apartment. If your son, daughter or other family member gets caught doing it, the whole family loses out, and the city has no intention of giving anyone a second chance. So tell me how the Jewish community is responsible for this.

The sensible, intelligent and educated people of the Far Rockaway community can separate fact from fiction, and I am confident that they are more concerned with bridging gaps with their Jewish neighbors than creating divisions. These are the people that helped to get James Sanders, Jr. over the first hurdle. These are the people that went out to vote in record numbers because they were tired of "machine politics". These are the people who want serious change, not confrontation with the Jews.

To my African-American brothers and sisters, and minority groups that feel as though there will not be a place for them in Rockaway, The G-man is assuring you that you will have a place. However, if you notice that there are certain changes taking place in our community, and folks are being shuttled out of "the projects", you can't blame the Jews or anyone else for that matter. You have to look in the mirror.

If what you consider to be "outsiders" come in and start purchasing property, or housing developments, it's because we have not taken care of our own. The fact that this can be allowed to happen means we have let it get to a point where we have allowed the crime and economic devastation to destroy our community, and now others have to come in and clean up our crap. If we had kicked the drug dealers, users, criminals and troublemakers to the curb from the get go, we would have erased the stigma that comes with saying, "I live in the projects."

I don't believe Sanders is in the pocket of the Jews anymore than I believe the Knicks will win a championship, and we all know how unlikely that is. The rumors need to stop, and we all need to chill out, sit back and watch the events unfold in November.

Personally, I feel a stronger union between the two groups would be great. It worked for us during the Civil Rights period, and it certainly would work for Rockaway today. I seriously doubt that prominent members of the Jewish community in the Rockaway, like Harvey Gordon, Audrey Pheffer, Robert Levine, Susan Locke, Harold Cornell, Richard Altabe, Jeff Cohen, or Andrew Langer are all part of some elaborate conspiracy to rid Rockaway of minorities or control a potential member of the City Council. Too many leaders, from many different communities in Rockaway, have expressed an interest in joining forces for silly rumors like this to be plausible. What we have to do is simple. I think the Beatles said it best when they proclaimed, "Come together!"

See you next week!


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