Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday called allegations that he is playing the race card in New York’s upcoming mayoral election “ridiculous.”
Some have accused Sharpton of trying to eat away at Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sizable black support base by pointing out that the incumbent did not attend a debate in Harlem. Bloomberg is a Jew.
The former Democratic presidential candidate is backing his party’s candidate Fernando Ferrer, who is behind in the polls.
“I think that it is ridiculous,” he told Redding News Review in a wide-ranging interview. “When I endorsed [Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Chuck Schumer or New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer] it’s fine, but when I endorse a Latino its racially polarizing. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
He also defended New York independent activist Lenora Fulani against charges that she is anti-Semitic.
“I have known her along time,” he said. “I think that anyone who calls her ant-Semitic is incorrect.”
His comments of support for Fulani come at a time when key state leaders have backed away from her following New York media reports that she defended anti-Semitic statements. In the past, she is reported to have said that Jews “had to sell their soul to acquire Israel,” and “function as mass murderers of people of color.”
“What is anti-Semitic about that?” Fulani, who is black, is said to have asked a radio host during an April interview.
But in September she told members of New York’s Independence Party, before being ousted from the executive committee, that she by definition and association is not against Jews.
“I am not an anti-Semite,” she said. “Anti-Semites hate Jews. I’ve spent the last 25 years working closely with Jewish colleagues and friends. My mentor, Fred Newman, is a Jew. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City whose campaign I am vigorously supporting is a Jew.”
Fulani and Sharpton – who has also in the past been accused of being anti-Semitic for inciting violence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in 1991 and in Harlem in 1995 – have been feuding lately over who should be the city’s next mayor. Fulani is backing Bloomberg.