Yankel Rosenbaum’s Brother Sets the Record Straight About Al Sharpton

Daily News

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s recent reflections on the Crown Heights riots were egregiously sanitized.

On Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton gave his version of what happened 20 years ago in Crown Heights. But although he purports to have reflected on and learned from the riots, the truth is his recollection is egregiously distorted and sanitized.

Sharpton’s motivation for expressing his opinion at this time is unimportant; the fact that he has chosen to do so bestows a responsibility on us all to ensure that the truth is not sacrificed in the telling of our history.

Sharpton says that with the virtue of hindsight, he would have done some things differently – stating that “we,” meaning protesters, “should have expressed more clearly” “the precious value of Yankel Rosenbaum, who was killed by a mob that night.” He says, “I would have also included in my utterances that there was no justification or excuse for violence or for the death of Yankel Rosenbaum.”

But he does not outright apologize for his conduct. And his conduct was reprehensible.

He makes only passing mention of the vile words that incited the anti-Semitic rioters, which made an already volatile violent situation much worse. It was Sharpton who repeatedly bellowed to the rioters, “No justice, no peace!”

And Sharpton claims his remarks at Gavin Cato’s funeral were misinterpreted. Here is what he said, according to a 1993 report in the Jewish Forward by legendary reporter Philip Gourevitch: “Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. . . . All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no coffee klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’.”

Based on everything we have seen and read, Sharpton never called upon the rioters to stop their anti-Semitism-inspired violence. He never called on the rioters to go home. To the contrary, he stirred them up. And three days of anti-Semitic violence became the Crown Heights riots.

Sharpton’s revisionism only serves to perpetuate the fallacy that the riots erupted organically from some underlying ongoing issues between the African-American and Jewish communities of Crown Heights. In other words, that profound tensions were boiling just beneath the surface and were suddenly unleashed by the tragic death of Gavin Cato.

That is simply untrue. The riots were the product of anti-Semites taking advantage of the tragic death of a child to justify inflicting their violence on innocent people – the Jewish community of Crown Heights – and murdering Yankel Rosenbaum, a Jew from Australia, amid the cries of “Kill the Jew!”

It was a mob of about 30 who attacked and murdered Yankel, of which 28 have never been brought to justice. For 20 years, these people have lived free, and continue to do so, among the African-American community.

Instead of invoking the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to legitimize and humanize his opinion, Sharpton would be far better received if he dedicated his efforts to bringing each and every one of those 28 people involved in the crime to justice – prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated.

But that is not a priority in Al Sharpton’s world.

He has given us no genuine expression of remorse. No real regret for what he did. It is not an apology, it is not the truth, and it certainly should not be interpreted as either.

Rosenbaum is the brother of Yankel Rosenbaum, who was stabbed and killed by a mob in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in August 1991. Abraham is a spokesman for the Rosenbaum family.


  • 3. crown heights resident wrote:

    Al Sharpton is a disgrace to word leader and for that matter human being.

    sharpton is a weak degenerate who belongs sweeping the streets of some back alley where we don’t have to see the likes of him.

  • 4. Milhouse wrote:

    Why do people keep referring to him as the “reverend”? He has done nothing for which he should be revered. On the contrary, he should be reviled. Perhaps we should start calling him that: “the Reviled Al Sharpton”.

  • 5. Elki wrote:

    For the life of me and all law-abiding citizens I don’t fathom how Al Sharpton was allowed to remain in politics in any capacity.
    Crown Heights riots aside, those who are old enough to remember the fraud he committed in the Tawana Brawley case, knowingly colludig with a youg girl to trump up charges against an Upstate officer of the law was so outrageous – anyone else would have been banished, if not incarcerated.
    As to the riots, there should be a ban on any public appearances or statements that Al Sharpton makes. He is a proven out-and-out liar.

  • 6. Boruch wrote:

    This Sharpton is a VILDE CHAYE like the rest of em’. When the chips were down and the unrest that the black hoodlum crowds roamed the street, Sharpton got shakey legs and gave into “HIS” people, I repeat “HIS” people. Fuya Fuya, for shame Al Sharpton, for shame, You are nothing but Trash. Go get drunk you fool.

  • 7. Marc schneier wrote:

    As a Tzetzei of the Alter rebber I am appaled how you can attack my good friend Rev. Al Sharpton. If not for you Lubavitchers, I would have been able to use the riots as a platform to enhance my image.

  • 8. Lamah? wrote:

    So why wasn’t he brought up on charges of incitement by the Rosenbaum family and others in Crown Heights for the mayheim and destruction that followed?????
    Why wasn’t Dinkins – for not coming in and establishing calm even if he had to bring in the National Guard?
    This was a very explosive pogrom- where the Blacks were given free reign to do what they wanted.
    Why didn’t the Jewish community make any of these people accountable???

  • 10. An Observer wrote:

    Well written Mr. Rosenbaum, and a necessary response. However I do disagree with one point you said. I was in my home, a few hundred feet from the accident site, Monday evening and all day Tuesday or the riots. I heard in detail the goings on at the corner of Utica and President. Mr. Sharpton spoke extensively to the crowd on Tuesday afternoon. You state that Sharpton “incited the anti-Semitic rioters”. My observations were that the rioters on Monday night and early Tuesday afternoon were angry, confused, and wanted to lash out at an unseen enemy who killed a poor defenseless child. Your brother was caught in the mayhem. It wasn’t until Sharpton spoke that the crowd became firmly joined in a clearly anti-Semitic purpose, rather than simply a wild lawless rampage. Rather than saying that Al Sharpton “incited the anti-Semitic rioters”, I would say Al Sharpton “incited the rioters to become anti-Semitic”. True, some were before he spoke, but after he spoke, it was universal!

    This is based on my own personal observations.

  • 11. al is a easy sharp ton (1000) or more wrote:

    him and lewd farakahn maybe can make up aoncpericeis together

  • 12. rsa wrote:

    they need to teach a special skill in all schools:
    how to read between the lines and understand when someone is FAKE.
    Sharpton is just so FAKE, he does not come on intelligent or straight or anything, he is hard to believe that he’s real.

  • 16. meir rhodes wrote:


    I’ve remained silent these years. i hope this is the right medium to express my thoughts. anyway , as a teacher and resident of the neighborhood where the pogrom hit i knew the kids or least some of them who were involved in the murder of yankel. limerick nelson among others were well know to the nypd. after yankels murder the cops could have easily put one or two undercover cops into mahalia Jackson junior high and the local high school when they opened that fall. within hours the cops would have had all those involved. the news was on the streets. the is question is why? why didn’t the city, state and feds want to pursue the case? only s year after the murder of yankel and the acquittal of nelson did the FBI appear to be interested? who at the top of the city encouraged the deep throating of vital information? why was sharpton able to walk away from inciting the pogrom and murder of yankel? what part did his organization play in the pogrom and its aftermath? there were witnesses to sharpton’s actions. why weren’t they contacted? how closely did sharpton and sonny carson work together?buses where brought in from harlem full of inciters. who brought them in? who payed for the buses? what part did the nation of islam play in the pogrom? these questions were never answered. will they ever be?

  • 17. sd wrote:

    Al Sharpton and Sonny Carson both organized busloads of outside black demonstrators to come to Crown Heights. These outsiders turned violent as they marched down our streets with Sharpton at the head. Sharpton himself felt priveleged to be the one to march up to the door of 770 and attempt to serve a summons to the Rebbe. Thankfully we had kept everyone inside 770 while this transpired so Sharpton did not attract the crowd he had hoped for.

  • 18. Forgeting wrote:

    Our we also forgetting when Sharpton said then to the news-reporter that he is flying to Europe and stopping over in Israel to find Mr. Lipsh. Then he added by him stooping in Israel is really stopping in “hell”….Remember?

  • 19. Boruch wrote:

    To MEIR RHODES. I can’t believe you’ve come out now with this vital info. I am truly impressed that you first hand know of every prat and character… You should have back then tried all in your power to tell whatever publication that was out there of these revelations… We all knew Sharpton and Carson were spearheads, but no one came out with the true evidence. Sorry.

  • 20. FrankieB wrote:

    Norman Rosenbaum, you are a great person. I have long admired you and felt the pain of the loss of your brother. I recently went over the newspaper accounts of the Crown Heights Riots — it was like being in a time warp. What were we thinking, what were we doing. Jews and non-Jews should have taken to arms, rushed to Crown Heights, and gunned down the assailants. David Dinkins and his police stooge were a disgrace.

    Sharpton is a vile reprehensible racist bigot and anti-Semite.

  • 21. FrankieB wrote:

    “Why didn’t the Jewish community make any of these people accountable???”

    For the same reason that prominent Jews and Jewish organizations said NOTHING the first few days of the Riots: they are liberal Democratic Jewish operatives who did not want to ‘alienate’ the largest Democratic voting block (blacks) who comprise 25% of the Democratic Party’s voting strength. The Crown Heights, Orthodox, and other Jewish leaders spoke out. The so-called ‘mainstream’ Jewish leaders clammed up.

    Same thing happened with Freddy’s Fashion Mart — Sharpton should have been indicted on that, too.

    Contrast the bending over backwards for someone who helps KILL JEWS with the warp speed liberal Jewish leaders move to condemn Pat Robertson or some evangelical Christian because they say something theologically offensive to Jews. I mean, we are ALL of different religions so we all believe ours is the right one, so who cares what anybody thinks ? But liberal Jews go berserk over Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, or any Republican/conservative.

    Meanwhile, Jewish shops get burned, Jews get killed in Crown Heights — but hey, no problem, nothing happening on the Upper West or East Side where all the Jewish liberals live in their nice condos and co-ops.

    And don’t get me started on Israel, where these same liberals make excuses all the time for anti-Israel Democratic liberals.

    Anyone remember Stephen Wise’s disgraceful behavior during the Holocaust and FDR ? Same thing…political expediency over principle.


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