Room For Dialogue
However, while there may not have been anything loud or out of the ordinary — and people, according to Posner, have good intentions, the question of reverse racism or a feeling by some Jewish residents that when black on Jewish crime happens it is almost acceptable and that if they perpetrate the law against a black it is front page news, is very real. Across Facebook and Twitter, there were several Jewish community members upset by the backlash to the Zimmerman trial.
“All the people demonstrating don’t seem concerned about the hundreds of blacks (many young children) who have been killed and continue to be killed in their own communities,” wrote Florence Schleifer in one post late last week.
Arnold said he thinks “it is the classic dog bites man, not a story. Man bites dog, story.”
“I experienced it before Zimmerman, and I experience it now, simply because I am one of the only white guys in a profession dominated by black people in Washington, D.C. It is far more likely for the people I work with to identify someone by their race, to talk about race and be cognizant about race than the white people I interact with,” said Arnold. “In Baltimore City, if there is anywhere in the world where reverse racism takes place, it is here. I have had people ask me straight out, ‘Why do Jews hate blacks?’ I don’t understand the question. Jews helped found the NAACP, Jews funded the abolitionist movement. Jews funded and supported the civil rights movement. Where is it coming from that Jews hate blacks? I don’t know.”
Arnold said his worry is that the Zimmerman incident will deter some of the dedicated community volunteers in Northwest Baltimore to be afraid to help. He noted that the community has four volunteer org-anizations to keep the community safe — Hatzalah, Northwest Citizens Patrol, Shomrim and the local Community Emergency Response Team. He said there will be a real crisis if
people are not willing to volunteer because they know if they are attacked — or see someone attacked — and fight back in self-defense they could ruin the rest of their lives. He cited the Eli Werdesheim case as an example.
“Werdesheim got convicted, and it ruined a year-and-a-half of his life. Zimmerman? I don’t know how he is going to live the rest of his life. He got off, but he is never going to live this down,” said Arnold.
Northwest Baltimore resident Shoshana Shamberg said she feels differently.
“He [Zimmerman] shouldn’t have gotten out of his car,” she said. “We can’t set a precedent in this country for vigilantes.”
Shamberg said she is not disagreeing with the court’s decision: “We can’t be sure Zimmerman was right in what he did and what he had to do [to defend himself], and we can’t be sure this kid was totally innocent.”
Shamberg said she hopes the whole case will spawn dialogue and that the good that can come out of it is a realization that all people need one another.