Philadelphia Commerce Director Quits After Reports of Antisemitic Comments


Jewish Exponent Square.jpgCity of Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid resigned Dec. 5 after reports surfaced that he made antisemitic remarks, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The antisemitic remarks included describing “Schindler’s List” as “Jewish propaganda” and an unverified quote from Malcolm X that calls Jewish neighborhoods “Jew Town.”

“My continued service would serve as a distraction from the work of the Department, which is far too important to the City and region,” Rashid, 74, said in a statement. “I also have had the opportunity to speak with leaders of the Jewish community in Philadelphia and apologize for my previous comments which were inappropriate and insensitive. I look forward to future engagement with the community going forward.”

Several people in Rashid’s department apparently had quit because he verbally abused staffers, the Inquirer reported.

“He will continue to lose employees and hollow out the Department, and his anti-Semitic comments could eventually become public,” former Communications Director Taj Magruder wrote in a letter to Mayor Jim Kenney’s Chief of Staff Jim Engler and mayoral spokesperson Lessard on Nov. 22.

Before Rashid’s resignation, Jewish organizations called for his firing.

”Kenney, earlier this week, stood side by side with leaders of the Jewish community to condemn the rise of Antisemitism,” Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Michael Balaban said in a statement. “If there is no room in our City for Antisemitism, as Mayor Kenney said, then Mr. Rashid should be removed from office immediately.”

“AJC {American Jewish Committee calls on Mayor Kenney to take immediate action in line with this pledge by calling for Rashid to resign and work with the Jewish community to educate all city offices and city-funded institutions on the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and utilize Translate Hate, an AJC resource that clearly explains when statements are antisemitic,” the organization said in a statement. “Only through education and accountability will Philadelphia truly be the city of brotherly love where pluralism and diversity are respected and honored.


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