DC council member wants action after anti-Semitic remarks

WASHINGTON — D.C. Councilwoman Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who is Jewish, is calling for action against anti-Semitic remarks: She wants a city official fired and she’s asking the council to condemn the words of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Silverman was derided as a “fake Jew,” and Jewish people were called “termites,” at a Thursday rally outside the Wilson building that was organized by D.C. Housing Authority Board member Joshua Lopez.

The rally was called to show support for Councilman Trayon White (Ward 8), who has apologized for his own anti-Semitic remarks.

“I’ve asked Mayor Bowser to dismiss Josh Lopez, the convener of the rally. She appointed him to that board and I think she should remove him from that board. I think his behavior was disgusting and inappropriate,” Silverman said.

Lopez blames an uninvited speaker for the hateful words, which he says he rejects. But Silverman points out the words at the rally went unchallenged.

“Somebody said something extremely hateful and no one spoke up to speak against it, which is what outrages me so much,” Silverman said.

Silverman charges that there’s a “disturbing tolerance” in the city for anti-Jewish hate speech. She wants the council to condemn the words of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakahn as well.

The Nation of Islam is regarded as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League says the Nation of Islam has “a consistent record of anti-Semitism and racism since its founding the 1930s.”

“I’ve asked my colleagues to speak out and condemn Farrakhan’s hate speech,” Silverman said.

She said Farrakhan has also directed hateful words toward the LGBTQ+ community.

“Hate speech directed at anybody needs to be called out,” Silverman said.

The Nation of Islam has drawn praise from some elected leaders, including Councilman Trayon White, for its efforts to bolster self-reliance and counter violence in the black community.

“I just can’t accept any of the good that they do because it’s poisoned by anti-Jewish, anti-gay, anti-a lot of people speech,” Silverman said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up