Backgrounder: Charles Barron


Updated: June 14, 2012


New York City Councilman Charles Barron has associated with anti-Semitic hate groups and promoted extreme anti-Israel positions intended to demonize the Jewish state since his election in 2001.


During media interviews and frequent speaking engagements around New York City, Barron levels a range of accusations against the Jews and the Jewish state, most notably that it should never have been created. He has also asserted that Blacks, not Jews, are the "real" Semites—a position frequently advanced by anti-Semites in an effort to delegitimize Jews. In addition to Barron's public pronouncements, he has engaged with the broader anti-Israel movement and participated in campaigns such as the pro-Hamas Viva Palestina US convoy to Gaza.


Barron has also publicly praised brutal international dictators, even describing Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi as his "hero" and an "African freedom fighter" at a pro-Qaddafi memorial service in November 2011 following the Libyan leader's death.  During the service, Barron led the audience in a chant of "Long live Muammar Qaddafi". In an interview with local media, Barron was quoted as saying, "one person's horrible person can be another person's hero." He had previously praised Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe who has violently suppressed political opposition and repressed the white minority in his country.


Throughout his political career, Barron has maintained close ties to radical groups like the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), the largest organized black militant hate group in the United States. Barron has forged strong ties with some of the most anti-Semitic and racist members of the NBPP's leadership, finding common ground over what they perceive as legal and social injustices affecting African Americans.

Anti-Israel Activity

Charles Barron's public positions on Israel center on what he views as Israel's merciless and criminal treatment of Palestinians. During media interviews and as a featured speaker at anti-Israel events around New York City, Barron advocates for an end to U.S. support for Israel and regularly employs Holocaust language, including likening Israeli actions in Gaza to those of the Nazi regime and describing Gaza as a "concentration camp" and "death camp."


In 2010, Barron revealed in no uncertain terms that his views on Israel were informed by a deeper anti-Israel bias in June 2010, asserting that the state of Israel should never have been created.


Indeed, calling Israel's legitimacy into question was one of many verbal attacks Barron made following Israel's action against a flotilla of ships seeking to break the blockade of Gaza a few weeks earlier. Barron called the Israeli raid a "state sponsored act of terrorism," describing the Israeli government as "the biggest terrorist in the world" and the U.S. as "accomplice in this murder." He also accused Israel of establishing a "death camp" in Gaza and describing the conditions there as "a clear case of genocide."


In an interview with reporters during a June 2010 rally to oppose Israel's raid of the flotilla, Barron added, "Israel is out of control. They're off the hook, they're out of line; and Barack Obama has to stand strong and so do does Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, to say that this kind of aggressive, terroristic behavior and act of piracy will not be tolerated and the blockade should be lifted immediately, immediately. There's (sic) too many children and women and innocent men of Gaza dying because you're isolating them and not allowing anything in. It's like having a concentration death camp. It's horrible, and the whole world is and should be outraged."


Barron's support for anti-Israel causes led him to take part in the pro-Hamas Viva Palestina US convoy to Gaza, organized in July 2009 by British MP George Galloway. Upon his return to the U.S., Barron participated in several anti-Israel rallies and demonstrations and broadcast his increasingly hostile positions on Israel widely. During one interview, he described the situation in Gaza as "the same kind of conditions the Nazis imposed on the Jews." 


The anti-Israel positions Barron promotes have been embraced by members of the far left, who appreciate the propaganda value that his messages add to their events. For example, Barron has appeared as a speaker at multiple demonstrations organized by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, an antiwar group adept at linking its anti-war initiatives with a radical anti-Israel agenda.  


The anti-Semitic and racist New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has also provided a platform for Barron to express his views. Barron has had a close relationship with the NBPP, speaking at its events and advancing some of the group's positions on Jews, including the notion that Blacks, rather than Jews, are the "real" Semites. In August 2010, Barron appeared at an event in Harlem alongside prominent members of the NBPP, including national chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz and Philadelphia chairman King Samir Shabazz. Though the NBPP leaders spoke mostly about the opposition they face and the need for unity within the Black community, there were also anti-Semitic remarks like references to Fox News as "Fox Jews" and New York City as "Jew York City." When Barron addressed the audience, he expressed unity with the NBPP speakers: "No matter what you think, we are embracing each other with unity...We're not gonna allow the press to pick us off against each other. You know what the press is gonna do? 'Do you agree with everything he said? Do you agree with everything he said?' So just for the record, we're all in unity today. We're not answering those questions 'cause we're all in unity today. They're looking to divide us."

He has also publicly supported the political efforts of NBPP leaders. In May 2010, Barron traveled to Trenton, New Jersey, to show his support for Divine Allah, the NBPP's National Youth Minister, who at the time, was campaigning for a seat on the City Council.  


As a public figure, Barron has helped attract media attention to NBPP events that the hate group might not have been able to attract on its own. At times he has even employed his status as an elected official on the NBPP's behalf, as he did in 2003 when he presented the NBPP with a Proclamation from the City Council during its Million Youth March in Brooklyn. Barron played a key role in the event, publicly endorsing it beforehand and appearing in the NBPP's promotional materials as an "honorary co-convener."  


During his remarks at the event, Barron urged African-Americans to vote in an upcoming election—in which he was running for mayor—so that more "elected revolutionaries" like himself could join city government. He promised that if elected, he would turn Gracie Mansion into a homeless shelter and paint the columns of City Hall the colors of African unity: red, green and black.  


Barron and the NBPP have also coalesced over local police brutality issues. Following the shooting death of Sean Bell, who was killed by NYPD in November 2006, Barron and the NBPP rallied for months, pointing to the incident as evidence of systematic targeting of African Americans by police.   


When asked during an appearance on the FOX News program Hannity and Colmes about threatening remarks he had made against police during a rally to protest Bell's death , Barron defended his statements. He responded, "I'm saying defend yourself. If the system doesn't want to protect us, then we have no choice."


The program hosts questioned Barron about an even more menacing comment he had made regarding the grand jury hearing in the case: "If we don't get an indictment, there's going to be an explosion. We're not the only ones who can bleed. Maybe the rest of us need to get a shot off." Barron responded that he stood by his remarks.


Barron's confrontational rhetoric was also evident during a speech at an August 2002 slavery reparations demonstration in Washington DC. Barron said, "You know some days I get so frustrated I just want to go up to the closest white person and say, 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing,' and then slap him, just for my mental health." The NBPP, which provided security at the event, sold t-shirts that read "Kill Whitey" and "How did we get to America? Heartless Christian Buyer, Ruthless Jewish Seller." 


Another anti-Semitic group Barron supports is the Nation of Islam (NOI). Barron has appeared at various NOI events through the years, at one point receiving a 'Man of the Year' award from the organization's New York chapter. During his mayoral campaign, Barron was joined onstage at one of his fundraisers by Kevin Muhammad, the NOI's local leader in New York City, and Malik Zulu Shabazz, NBPP national chairman. 


In August 2011, Barron attended a "Millions March in Harlem" rally alongside the longtime racist and anti-Semitic leader of the NOI, Louis Farrakhan. Barron had specifically promoted the event on his Facebook page as an opportunity to "join" with local leaders and Farrakhan, who delivered a virulent anti-Semitic keynote address at the rally. During his own speech, Barron accused the U.S. of exploiting the turmoil in some African countries for its own financial gain and alleged that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was implementing social policies that were as detrimental to African people as the international coalition bombing was to Libya.


Barron has also at times praised Farrakhan, who has for more than 30 years made hateful statements targeting Jews, whites and homosexuals. During a 1999 appearance on Hannity and Colmes, Barron defended Farrakhan against allegations that Farrakhan is racist and stated unequivocally, "Louis Farrakhan is not a racist… I support Farrakhan."

Charles Barron: In His Own Words

Below is a sampling of Charles Barron's recent remarks on Israel and Jews:


"…where should we start [the discussion]? Should we start with the 1906 Zionist Convention, or in 1914, with the Balfour Declaration? With Menachem Begin, the terrorists, all the wars, you want to discuss Israel becoming a state in 1948 when it should not have? Who are the terrorists? You want to talk about the definition of terrorism? How do you define acts of piracy?"

- During an event at House of the Lord Church

iBrooklyn, June 17, 2010


"I am tired every time you criticize Israel, you are anti-Semitic. Well technically my pastor taught me about the Semitic people, the Semites are black." -

- During an event at House of the Lord Church

iBrooklyn, June 17, 2010


"It [Gaza] is a concentration camp and you're deliberately causing the death of people and you cannot continue to justify that by saying that you're trying to secure Israel or you're fighting against terrorism."

- Interview with CBS News, June 4, 2010


"I think he's a coward. I think he's just doing stuff to satisfy his constituents and satisfy the Jewish lobby."

- Commenting on City Councilman David Greenfield's

criticism of his recent comments on Gaza, during

an interview with CBS News, June 4, 2010


"The young children of Gaza are dying at the hands of the Israeli army and the Israeli government and the United States is accomplice in this murder."

- Rally outside of the Israeli Consulate

in New York City, June 1, 2010


"We are sick and tired of this country supporting dictators, supporting terrorists and then saying they have a homeland security office to stop terrorism. Well you want to stop terrorism? The biggest terrorist in the world is the government of Israel."

- Rally outside of the Israeli Consulate

in New York City, June 1, 2010


"If you really want to do something, then block the military aid to Israel. If you want to sanction somebody, sanction Israel."

- Rally outside of the Israeli Consulate

in New York City, June 1, 2010


"Israel has been an enemy to Africa, Israel has been an enemy to the people of Palestine and we no longer want this nation to support the enemy of human rights. We say stop the weapons to Israel and build the nation of Gaza."

- Rally outside of the Israeli Consulate

in New York City, June 1, 2010


"We denounce this act of piracy…This was clearly a state sponsored act of terrorism by the Israeli government, which has left nine innocent human rights activists dead."

- Commenting on Israel's May 31 raid of a flotilla of ships seeking to

break the blockade of Gaza during a rally outside of

City Hall in New York City, June 1, 2010


"Gaza is a virtual death camp, the same kind of conditions the Nazis imposed on the Jews,"

- Interview with the Amsterdam News, July 23-29, 2009


"Iraq has been occupied since 2003; Palestine has been occupied for 60 years."

-During an event at House of the Lord Church iBrooklyn following 

the return of the Viva Palestina US convoy, July 29, 2009


"They massacre the Palestinian people, bomb their homes, churches and schools, and then block anybody trying to deliver aid to them. What this amounts to is genocide."

- Interview with the Amsterdam News,

July 2, 2009 - July 8, 2009

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.