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Jews and Latinos get cozy

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  July 15, 2009


While US Senate Republicans dropped politically prudent bombshells on Sonia Sotomayor during her Supreme Court–nomination hearings this week, watchdogs from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Latino Professional Network (LPN) kept extra close ears on rage speech bubbling through conservative media channels. According to both groups, it's one thing for South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham to say, "I think your experience can add a lot to the Court, but I don't think it makes you better than anyone else"; it's quite another for Glenn Beck to allege that President Barack Obama said, "Hey — Hispanic chick lady. You're empathetic? You're in," as he suggested was Sotomayor's screening process.

In order to address a rise in "anti-immigrant rhetoric and hate crimes targeting Latinos," on June 30 ADL and LPN activists broke bread at the Cambridge Street offices of Prince Lobel Glovsky & Tye. Before a crowd that included mayoral contenders Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty — as well as consulate representatives from Israel and Ecuador — leaders from both organizations shook hands and smiled as if posing for the cover of a Benetton catalog.

City Council President Michael Ross — whose district spans from Beacon Hill to Mission Hill (a geographic metaphor of sorts for the ADL-LPN union) — led the charge, saying that Latin and Jewish children should "see the same skyline." Moving forward, Governor Deval Patrick's Deputy Chief of Staff David Morales told onlookers that Jewish families were the first to hire Latin musicians to play weddings, while New England ADL Director Derek Shulman stated the three central catalysts for the congregation: the blaming of Mexican-Americans for swine flu, the Sotomayor attacks, and the berating that Latino people recently endured from such inflammatory conservatives as Boston crock-jock Jay Severin.

"We know what it's like to be scapegoated," said Shulman. "That's why we're the best in the business . . . but we're still unfortunately up against a growth industry."

Asked about specific actions that this new partnership (tentatively dubbed the "Latino/Jewish Roundtable") is taking in consideration of the Sotomayor hearings, Shulman said they are still in the process of selecting planning and steering committees, and of incorporating more Jewish and Latino groups from across the Commonwealth. But that doesn't mean his posse isn't paying close attention.

"When criticism of Sotomayor's nomination goes beyond legitimate critique of policy and previous decisions, we don't just want Latinos expressing outrage," says Shulman. "We want Jews to do the same thing. When the Holocaust Museum shootings happened, it wasn't just Jews who called my office to express sympathy — everybody did."

Related: Sotomayor's mixed message on free speech, Fourth-estate follies, 2009 edition, Judging the judge, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Deval Patrick, Barack Obama, Sonia Sotomayor,  More more >
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