Murders at Jersey City deli were anti-Semitic assault

By Joanne Kuniansky
December 30, 2019
Above, Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, after two anti-Semitic attackers killed Moshe Deutsch, Leah Mindel Ferencz and Douglas Miguel Rodríguez, from left in the inset.
Isaac Wolner/Arutz Sheva 7Above, Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, after two anti-Semitic attackers killed Moshe Deutsch, Leah Mindel Ferencz and Douglas Miguel Rodríguez, from left in the inset.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A murderous attack targeting Jews at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket left three people dead Dec. 10. Despite the fact that killers David Anderson and Francine Graham charged directly into the deli, opening fire before they went in the door, much of the press coverage initially refused to recognize the anti-Semitic character of the attack.

Thousands attended the funerals of Leah Mindel Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch and Douglas Miguel Rodríguez, the three people killed. Hundreds joined an interfaith vigil at Temple Beth-El the day after the murders in Jersey City and a vigil at New Jersey City University Dec. 12.

Cops and FBI agents engaged the two African American shooters in an hourslong gun battle, which ended when the police rammed an armored vehicle into the supermarket and found both killers dead.

All 43 Jersey City schools were locked down, affecting 30,000 students. “It was scary,” Tetri Boodhoo, a worker at the Walmart store in Secaucus, told this worker-correspondent. Her daughter was locked inside the James Ferris High School until 6 p.m.

In the last few years some 100 Jewish families, largely from the Satmar Hasidim, have left Brooklyn, New York, for the Greenville neighborhood in Jersey City, seeking less expensive housing in the predominantly Black neighborhood.

The JC Kosher Supermarket opened by Moishe Ferencz and his wife, Leah, had become a community hub. Douglas Miguel Rodríguez, from Ecuador, worked there. Moshe Deutsch, the other victim of the shooting, was a 24-year-old rabbinical student.

The morning after the killing Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop condemned the attack, saying it was aimed at Jews. But despite the explicit targeting of a kosher deli next to a synagogue the state’s attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, took several days to acknowledge the attack was anti-Semitic. Anderson, one of the shooters,  also espoused the views of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a sect that thinks its members are the “true Israelites,” and believes Jews are impostors, spewing anti-Semitism. The Black Hebrew Israelites organization denied any connection to the killings.

The boarded-up shop front where the shooting took place is lined with flowers, candles and messages, including some in Spanish, from well-wishers.

SWP: ‘Combat anti-Semitism’

Lea Sherman, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, joined the vigil the day after the killing and issued a statement condemning the attack. “The overwhelming majority of working people of all nationalities and religious beliefs oppose Jew-hatred,” the statement said. “But if every expression of anti-Semitism isn’t answered and combated, that opposition can and will be pushed back.”

Sherman returned to Greenville Dec. 15 and visited the family of  Leah Mindel Ferencz.

The conduct of those who came to offer their condolences and solidarity stood in contrast to comments by Joan Terrell, a Jersey City Board of Education Trustee. She claimed the murderous attack was justifiable, saying “brutes of the Jewish community” were forcing Blacks to move out of the neighborhood. Terrell urged people to “explore” the “message,” the Jew-hating killers “were sending.”

Describing the slayings in a tweet, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wrote, “White supremacy kills.” She deleted the comment when the identity of the shooters was revealed, leaving no statement against the anti-Semitic attacks.

The day after the killings the White House issued an executive order against anti-Semitism. It instructed universities that receive government funding to enforce Title VI against “discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination,” and prohibited any infringement of First Amendment rights.

In response to the executive order the New York Times’ editors complained that “the larger threat to American Jews goes beyond college students. … Violent anti-Semitism is being fomented most significantly by white nationalists and the far right.” But no anti-Semitic violence is “more significant” than any other — they all deal blows to working people and help prepare the ground for the ultra-right, regardless of who carries them out.