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Brooklyn, NY - Assemblywoman Apologizes To Jewish Community For Racially Tinged Comments

Published on: June 2, 2015 06:13 PM
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Brooklyn, NY - Two days after making divisive remarks about the Jewish community during a heated radio interview while discussing Governor Cuomo’s proposed tax credits to provide relief to some private school parents, a Brooklyn Assembly member has issued a formal apology.

In a statement released yesterday, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd Assembly District) apologized for the heated exchange, which took place during Leon Goldenberg’s Community Matters program which aired at 10 PM on Saturday night on WMCA.  In her apology, Bichotte noted that disagreements can often arise when debating emotional issues.

“This was evident during a recent radio interview I had with Leon Goldenberg and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my tone and the poor choice of words I used.”

Listen below to the radio interview.

Bichotte’s short apology came as part of an over 900 word press release that described at length the merits of the assembly bill she sponsored over the one proposed by the governor.  Despite its brevity, the apology was sufficient according to Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who took his colleague to task a day after the interview, calling her remarks “shocking”, “insensitive” and “inappropriate” and blasting the assemblywoman for attempting to cast the tax credits as a racial issue.

“When someone apologizes, that says it all,” Hikind told VIN News.  “You move on from there and hope that things like this don’t happen again. It was all unfortunate, a huge mistake but it’s over.  She said ‘I’m sorry,’ so you move on and hope that everyone learns their lessons.”

An editorial published in today’s Daily News also criticized Bichotte’s remarks which seemingly divided her district into two camps:  African American residents and Jewish residents.

Bichotte referred to the members of the Jewish community as “you guys” multiple times in her discussion with Goldenberg and accused the Jewish community of unfairly attacking her for her part in the Assembly’s lack of support for the governor’s proposed bill because she is a black woman.  Bichotte asked Goldenberg why previous Assembly members hadn’t been criticized for their failure to pass any type of tax credit for private school parents.

“Just think about it,” said Bichotte.  “Shelly Silver, who has been in office for twenty years, you guys put him on a pedestal and he didn’t even put this on the floor, okay?  Rhoda Jacobs who was in before me, no one, no one ever pushed her the way you guys are pushing me and then I have to ask, is it because I am a woman?  Black? Whatever? I mean is it because I am freshman? Ridiculous.  I expect the same level of respect and I expect the same standard of understanding.”

Taking a shot at the lack of support from the Jewish community during the election, the assemblywoman, whose district includes a sizable chunk of Midwood, said that she intends to advocate for those voters who supported her.

FILE - In 2011 Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte at the holocaust museum Yad VAshem in IsraelFILE - In 2011 Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte at the holocaust museum Yad VAshem in Israel

“My district is 80 to 90 percent public school parents,” observed Bichotte.  “They are not happy to find out I sponsored an education tax credit.  They’re not happy.  And I’m taking a risk. And it’s not like the majority of the Jewish district has voted for me or supported me.”

Asked by Goldenberg if she represented all residents of her district Bichotte replied, “I represent the entire district.  The people I listen to are the ones who support me and are going to vote me in.”

A clearly agitated Bichotte acknowledged that she did have some supporters in the Jewish community, but that she felt that her Jewish predecessor, Rhoda Jacobs,  had received preferential treatment from district residents.

“I have a group of people who, and I’m not saying it is the Jewish community because many people in the Jewish community supported me, but if there are many people who are against me, and you know who I am talking about, why should I listen to people who didn’t put the same standards on a Jewish woman in a Jewish land?  I am angry about that.”

In a statement emailed to VIN News, Rona Taylor, a spokesperson for Bichotte said that the assemblywoman was attempting to illustrate that she felt she was being held to a different standard than previous members of the Assembly who had also not supported prior attempts to pass a tax credit for private school parents.

“Why is the member being pressured to support a bill that the previous leadership did not/would not support?” wrote Taylor.

Taylor also said that the phrase “you guys” was taken entirely out of context.

“The member was referring to two to three people in the community and therefore the words ‘you guys’ was not being directed towards the Jewish community as a whole,” explained Taylor.

Taylor said that Bichotte would be speaking with leaders of the Jewish community today who were in Albany to lobby for tax relief for private school parents, including Goldenberg.

VIN News was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach out to Goldenberg regarding his conversation with Bichotte.


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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:27 PM Mazal1 Says:

Why does she call us racist we the Jews do more for blacks than anyone else? We have our food and her people have there own, nu , so what? We are not going to dress like them even if becomes a law!! This can not be accepted, irregardless of what roshi yeshivasha says. What do you say?

2

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:53 PM fat36 Says:

All the same

3

 Jun 02, 2015 at 07:51 PM Anonymous Says:

I just listened to this entire 17 minute interview which is more than most of the nudniks who are calling her an anti-Semite will do. There is virtually nothing that she said that is out of order. Perhaps the truth hurts us Yidden, that we are only 20% of her district, as well as the fact that Rhoda Jacobs before her and Shelly Silver did less for tuition tax credits in their 20 plus years than she has done. Yidden better develop thicker skins and not be so sensitive to perceived slights.

4

 Jun 02, 2015 at 08:13 PM greuv Says:

Too bad Bichotte identified herself as both black and female. Hopefully she'll grow to identify as a representative of everyone in her district. Unified instead of divisive.

5

 Jun 02, 2015 at 09:19 PM Anonymous Says:

The problem with all politicians ,including the Mayor is ,that they think the political arena ,& all issues are theirs ,& to force their own views & opinions on the public .

6

 Jun 02, 2015 at 10:09 PM Flatbush resident Says:

The Askanim know that the Cuomo bill is in trouble .Attacking a Afro American Assemblyperson who produced a better bill that would benefit parents directly will now backfire..If the Cuomo bill fails they have no one one but themselves to blame

7

 Jun 03, 2015 at 08:48 AM lavrenty Says:

Reply to #6  
Flatbush resident Says:

The Askanim know that the Cuomo bill is in trouble .Attacking a Afro American Assemblyperson who produced a better bill that would benefit parents directly will now backfire..If the Cuomo bill fails they have no one one but themselves to blame

those were my sentiments as well, Cuomo has ZERO respect in the assembly and his bill is DOA, plus his bill ONLY helps the low income, Silver's bill which she supports is actually going to help EVERYONE, these "leaders" messed up big time, now she will be in the Assembly for another 30 years and will oppse frum concerns.

8

 Jun 03, 2015 at 10:22 AM J-R-S Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

I just listened to this entire 17 minute interview which is more than most of the nudniks who are calling her an anti-Semite will do. There is virtually nothing that she said that is out of order. Perhaps the truth hurts us Yidden, that we are only 20% of her district, as well as the fact that Rhoda Jacobs before her and Shelly Silver did less for tuition tax credits in their 20 plus years than she has done. Yidden better develop thicker skins and not be so sensitive to perceived slights.

Interesting---even impressive----to hear someone [presumably] heimishe say that.

You're right, to the extent that most people in these circles will simply accept that anyone is an anti-Semite, based on the often unfounded, uninformed say-so of their neighbors/shul-mates/rebbe/friends/plumber. What's more, racist attitudes---sometimes subtle, and in private, often very blatant---are a problem we have in our own backyards, so those who cry the loudest about antisemitism are often also the biggest hypocrites.

Having said that, "we yidden" as a whole (not just religious Jews), have---and are very unfairly expected to have---thicker skins than do blacks, gays, women, Muslims, Asians, Russians and deaf people. Politicians these days say things about Jews or Israel* that would end their careers, just like that, if they had said the equivalent about other minorities (depending which, the degree of sensitivity varies a lot)

* (the double standards applied to the Jewish State make such criticism nothing more than thinly disguised anti-semitism)

9

 Jun 03, 2015 at 11:43 AM commonsense99 Says:

face facts, the district is only 20% frum she has 80% black of course she would go with the 80% i don't know why she is saying sorry for telling the truth.
PS i read her bio she is a former public school teacher, no way is she going to help a yeshiva

10

 Jun 03, 2015 at 01:11 PM lavrenty Says:

Reply to #9  
commonsense99 Says:

face facts, the district is only 20% frum she has 80% black of course she would go with the 80% i don't know why she is saying sorry for telling the truth.
PS i read her bio she is a former public school teacher, no way is she going to help a yeshiva

but she IS helping the yeshivas with the bill she cosponsored with Silver, so she is going against her gut to help Yidden, which makes these attacks even more weird.

11

 Jun 03, 2015 at 03:11 PM Aloofknaz Says:

I just listened again.... What did she do to even warrant an apology??

12

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