State Poet Asked to Resign for Criticizing Israel

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey recommended Amiri Baraka, an official poet of the state, resign because of a poem he wrote criticizing Israel. A poetry festival was held in Stunhope on September 19, where the poet read his verses titled "The One Who Blew America Up." Weekly Jewish Standard quotes the poem as saying: Who knew the WTC would be bombed? Who told 4,000 Israeli employees of the WTC to stay at home on that day? Why was Sharon so far away?

Some Jewish groups say the poem is anti-Semitic. "The governor strictly criticizes any racist or anti-Semite behavior. The style of Baraka’s recent verse implies that Israelis had known about the September 11 terrorism attacks," Kevin Davitt, a governor's spoksman said. "Baraka should apologize for the verse and quit the governmental office.” However, the official poet of the state isn’t going to quit his post yet. He rejects any accusations of anti-Semitism and says that criticism directed toward Israel is not anti-Semitic at all.

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