Storobin (left) and Fidler (right)

It looks like our post from two weeks ago, in which we caught video of Councilman Lew Fidler saying Republican opponent David Storobin has “ties to skinheads and neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist groups,” is causing a stir in the local political scene.

After floating around quietly for a while, the video was deployed by the Storobin campaign yesterday when the Brooklyn GOP vice chair held a press conference with several Jewish representatives demanding an apology from Fidler for “false and malicious remarks.”

“I demand that you [Lew Fidler] stop using the memory of dead and persecuted Jews to make false and slanderous attacks as a political ploy in your campaign,” Storobin said. “And you must apologize to the people of this community whom you offended deeply with your untrue remarks.”

Storobin’s campaign claims the allegations from Fidler’s campaign are an attempt to “score political points,” and noted that Storobin is a “devout Jew whose family escaped the former Soviet Union from religious persecution and whose extended family were victims of the Holocaust.”

Fidler made the claim in a pep-rally style speech during a meetup of Brooklyn Young Democrats on January 18. Seeking to energize the group, Fidler was slamming the Brooklyn GOP for backing a candidate that they knew little about. Fidler was referring to recent revelations that, while editor-in-chief of an online publication called Global Politician, Storobin wrote numerous pieces (such as one uncritical post on the Afrikaner Independence Movement, which advocates for an autonomous state in South Africa to advance white Afrikaner interests) that were linked on white supremacist hate sites.

Storobin’s articles have since vanished from the site.

During the press conference – and in several e-mail blasts afterwards – Storobin’s campaign presented several local Jewish leaders who said they were offended by Fidler’s allegations.

Gedaliah Weinberger, Chairman of Agudath Israel of America, a well known national Jewish organization with a long history in Brooklyn, called on Fidler to retract his statements and apologize to the entire community for his offensive remarks.

“We are here to strongly protest what I consider to be an egregious act that was committed by Mr. Fidler. I strongly protest the terminology used by Mr. Fidler. For him to say that Mr. Storobin has ties to [quote] ‘skinheads, neo-Nazis and white supremacists’ is not only false, it is an insult to all of us,” Weinberger said.

… Rabbi Mordecltai Tokarsky, head of the Brighton Beach Jewish Center Synagogue where Storobin attends Shul, also demanded a retraction from Fidler.

“David Storobin is a devout member of our synagogue. His ancestors, like many of ours, were wiped out by the Nazis, and he himself fled the former Soviet Union to escape religious persecution because of his faith. No one can in good conscience suggest that he has ties to Nazi sympathizers. The very notion is offensive,” Tokarsky added.

But Fidler wasn’t feeling very apologetic yesterday. Instead, his campaign shot back at Storobin for offering “no denial or explanation as to the connection between himself and why these writings appear on hate websites” during his press conference.

“Mr. Storobin should stop hiding his true beliefs,” said campaign spokeswoman Jenn Krinsky. “If there was nothing offensive in any of these writings or interviews, then why did Mr. Storobin delete them from his website, and leave us only the writings that still exist on white supremacist and hate sites, such as Stormfront, American Renaissance or Phora?”

That got the Storobin campaign roiled up. Storobin spokesperson David Simpson said the claims of white power ties are “bullshit and [Fidler] knows it’s bullshit.”

“David [Storobin] spent some time as a journalist before he was an attorney and he wrote for some websites, and just because someone links to it…you have no control over that,” Simpson told Sheepshead Bites. “[Fidler's campaign is] trying to take that exact thing and make it appear as if he has some kind of sympathy to white supremacist groups and it’s wrong and baloney.”

Storobin himself told Crain’s New York when the issue first came to light that he never took down the posting, and has no idea who did or why. He stands by his writings, though they have yet to be released to the public.

“My views have evolved over the years, but there’s nothing I’ve been ashamed of,” he said. “I’m very proud of the stuff I’ve written.”

Those writings, though, have become the stuff of scrutiny as the issue evolves. Gatemouth, a Democratic-leaning blogger who first wrote about the disappearing blog posts, has been digging up archived versions and dissecting them. In his latest article, Gatemouth examines Storobin’s writings about the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, in which Storobin was critical of U.S. support of Bosnian Muslims, arguing that both sides committed atrocities.

Gatemouth slammed Storobin for being the equivalent of a Holocaust denier.

“To say, as Storobin does, that there were atrocities committed on both sides, would be like saying atrocities were committed by both sides during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,” writes Gatemouth.

Gatemouth, for his part, has also criticized Fidler for likening online links to Storobin’s articles from white nationalist websites to actual ties to white nationalists, saying that it wasn’t justified by the facts. However, he also wrote that the content of Storobin’s articles and others were of a nature that invited frequent linking on such websites.

“If one strews the sidewalk in front of one’s house with stinking, rotting decaying offal and animal feces, one should really not claim surprise when one attracts rats, flies and maggots,” writes Gatemouth.

Storobin’s campaign, though, maintains that it’s all hogwash, and that their candidate is the one better-suited to represent the Jewish community.

“If Fidler wants to have a conversation about who he thinks is more representative of Jewish values and who is closer to the Jewish community, we’re happy to talk about that. We’re happy to talk about his heritage, and his history as a refugee and ancestor to Holocaust survivors,” spokesperson Simpson said. “[Storobin is] against abortion, against gay marriage, for school vouchers – all the things that make Fidler out of step with the Jewish community.”

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  • Kon

    Ned. In the future I would like you to add tl;dr to the end of the article.

  • levp

    “[Storobin is] against abortion, against gay marriage,…”

    Mr. Storobin’s campaign might want to know that there are Jews other Orthodox, and their view on social issues such as abortion and homosexuality is very different:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_abortion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_sexual_orientation

    What’s more, in 2003, “the proportion of Jews [in New York] who identify as “just Jewish,” nondenominational, secular or as having no religion jumped from 13% [in 1991] to 25% of the area’s Jewish population”:
    http://www.forward.com/articles/7507/

    So it may be wise not to lump all Jews into one category, at least on social issues.

  • Anonymous

    talking about throwing oil in to the fire.

    • Sbm123

      Looks like Lew Fidler is backing off his claim. This is what “City and State” just reported:

      “Wow. Filder’s campaign, which was making a huge deal of this issue
      over the past few days, now seems to be backing away from it entirely. I
      just got this statement from Jennifer Krinsky, Fidler’s spokeswoman:

      “With a long record of experience and results to run on, Councilman
      Fidler wants this campaign to be about what the community needs, not Mr.
      Storobin’s peculiar internet relationships.””

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        Because it’s`becoming a distraction. It was said to an audience that was being primed to enthusiastically go out and work for Fidler’s election.  Fidler had already made the distinction between being sympathetic towards white supremacists and actually being one. This was lost in the noise generated by this story.

  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    This is the public issue of importance??? Phooey on both of them.

  • guywhocare

    This guy (Fidler) need to go ASAP, he been there to long as Sheepshead Bay representative and done nothing for our community, and dont forget to take with you other politicians who support you.

  • Brightonresident

    Storobin appears to be a typical right-wingnut who is against wvwrything that has been fought for and won over the last several decades.  Obviously he is anti-women, anti-gay, and against the pubic school system.  Therefore out of touch with reality and anti- American!!!

    • Brightonresident

      *everything*

    • ES

      Gotta watch out for those pubic school systems. They’re one big hairy mess.

      • levp

        With both of my children having graduated from public schools, I’d say it depends a lot on teachers, school administration and students themselves.

        By the way, big, huge shout-out to the Principal, Ms. Ilene Altschul and all the staff at P.S. 52!!

        I know its not just P.S. 52 being an exception, either.  For example, my son graduated from John Dewey High School and went on to Hunter College (also public institution).  My daughter went to I.S. 206. Given the opportunity to do it over, we wouldn’t change anything in this path.

        • ES

          I think that is wonderful, and good for your children. A lot of my family members are also successful products of PS 52. I do feel compelled to point out, however, that I was making a very bad joke in response to Brightonresident’s small but nonetheless funny typo (pubic instead of public / “…one big hairy mess…”). Eh, it always ruins a joke when you have to explain it. ;)

          • levp

            Ah. Well, it was late night… [shamefully hides in a corner]

  • Dakota Dave

    “David Storobin is a devout member of our synagogue. His ancestors, like many of ours, were wiped out by the Nazis,”

    If that was the case how are either of them alive now? I suppose they just spontaneously came into existence…..

    • ES

      I had ancestors “wiped out” by Nazis too, and I am here. It’s not a magic trick or a conspiracy, and, I’d imagine, that what happened to my family likely occurred in Storobin’s and so many others’ families as well.

      In my family’s case, my great grandmother — one of five children — came to the U.S. from a shtetl in southeastern Poland. Her two brothers arrived here (I am reasonably certain) just after she did, but her parents, two remaining sisters, and their spouses, were about to get out of Poland to also come to the U.S., except the slated date of their departure was September 2, 1939. They never made it out. My two great-great aunts, and great-great grandparents were murdered near Auschwitz and our only consolation is knowing that they didn’t have to die in that horrible place.

      I never knew my great grandmother, as she died six years before I was born, but I know enough about her, and my family, that I could comfortable say that she would have given her every limb and both her eyes were such a sacrifice to guarantee that our murdered relatives could have “just spontaneously c[o]me into existence.”

      • ES

        comfortable = comfortably

    • http://www.bksouthie.com/ Brian

      I read a comment almost exactly like that one, by a Turkish diplomat using it to excuse his Armenian Genocide denial.

      He was also full of B.S.

  • Bloggerrabbit

    This might all be because Lew Fidler doesn’t want to cough up his opinions on vouchers.  He has always said he did not wish to air his opinion because it was not relevant to his job title.  Now it would be.  Let’s see what he says to a major issue.

    As for there being plenty of Jews who are not orthodox, its a non-starter since so many of the actual Jewish constituents in this seat are orthodox or moving in that direction.  Formerly secular Russian Jews are definitely becoming more religious than non-religious non-Russian Jews.  They care about Jewish issues.

    • levp

      Himself a product of a public education system (PS 208, JHS 285, Tilden High School, SUNY Albany), I hope he will work to reject the “voucher” scheme.

      But other issues are also important.  MTA financing, anyone? Not specifically Jewish issue…

      • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

        so, when it comes to the public school system, you’re in favor of a monopoly?

        • levp

          Not at all.  You can absolutely open a private school and solicit private funds (both through tuition and charity) to run it.

          • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

            That kind of favors the wealthy, and we wouldn’t want to do that, would we. Rich people would have choice, the poor would have….well…whatever it is currently.

          • levp

            You are not a socialist, are you?

          • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

            Hey dude, I AM a product of the public school system. And a better argument for vouchers can’t be found!

  • Joe Appelbaum

    Vote Republican. Period. End of story. You don’t have to be politically sophisticated or super informed to know where the Democraps have been leading us. You don’t have to look futher than the Oval Office, and know the meaning of the words “panderers/appeasers/sycophants/cowards”.

    • levp

      Which is why you should vote Green Party, actually.

      • Joe Appelbaum

        Does the green party oppose smoking in the streets? Not to mention oppose smoking, period? THAT’S WHY I DON’T SUPPORT THE “GREEN” PARTY.

    • Old Sheepshead Hand

      Thoughts like this comment and the very nature of what the article is discussing are examples of why American democracy is lost on its own people and why we’re not deserving of it and why we should be under a dictator.

      Self-serving politicians who have no concept of civil discourse, have few ethics, and don’t even seem to understand what it is they are meant to do, backed up and voted for by ignorant apes whose passion for politics stems not from civic duty or respect for a Republic but because it’s like watching sports and it fills a void in their life that they think seems worthy because it has to do with government and democracy. Nothing says self-esteem and self-worth like demonizing people you don’t know and supporting crooks and scam artists. 

      • Old Sheepshead Hand

        …Unless of course you were being sarcastic and mocking that kind of commentary. Then I take back everything I said…the Republic is saved!

    • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

      This reminds me of George Carlin, who said he was once accused of being a “Commie-Fag-Junkie”.
        Carlin: “How the heck do I answer such a charge?”……

  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    Say I’m an independent voter. Who do I vote for? Based on what? An argument over this? I’ll look 3rd party, thank you

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