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Who is the Jewish attorney general taking on one of the state’s most powerful Democrats?

Matthew Platkin is making headlines for indicting power broker George E. Norcross III, but he also wants to combat rising antisemitism

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin unsealed a racketeering indictment against George E. Norcross III, an influential Democratic power broker in southern New Jersey, Monday.

The 13-count indictment alleges that Norcross’s company used political influence with state and local authorities to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits. In one instance, when a developer refused to give up rights to his New Jersey property on Norcross’ terms, Norcross threatened him.

Norcross’ defense attorney, Michael Critchley, said that Platkin held a “vendetta” against his client, claiming that, for years, agencies have looked into Norcross’ business dealings and “came up with nothing.” Norcross, a former member of the Democratic National Committee, attended Platkin’s Monday news conference and called the attorney general, also a Democrat, a “coward.”

Matthew Platkin: Fighting antisemitism

Platkin, a graduate of Stanford Law School, served as chief counsel to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy from 2018 to 2020. Murphy appointed Platkin the state’s attorney general in February 2022.

Platkin has worked to monitor the rising antisemitism in New Jersey since the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7. A resident of Montclair, Platkin showed up to many events to emphasize law enforcement partnerships with Jewish communities and following up on incidents of antisemitism.

Together with Sundeep Iyer, the director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, Platkin put out a statement on Oct. 27 about the rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in K-12 schools and on college campuses. “Now more than ever,” they wrote, “it is critical that our educational institutions respond immediately — and in a manner consistent with their legal obligations — when bias incidents occur.”

They asked people to “avoid stereotypes, hateful slogans, or tropes that may fuel antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of bias,” while encouraging educational institutions to follow the prevention bias best practices.

The Division on Civil Rights issued a notice of violation on Nov. 30 in response to a TaskRabbit worker who allegedly violated discrimination laws when posting advertisements that he was “currently not offering my services to the Jewish community.”

“Anyone who discriminates against others based on religion, national origin, ancestry, or race is breaking the law in New Jersey,” Platkin said at the time. “There is no justification for denying services to members of the public based on antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any other kind of discrimination, and we are committed to holding anyone who engages in discriminatory practices accountable.”

Platkin has also worked closely with Jewish organizations to prevent antisemitism. At a March 2024 conference sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League in New York City, he spoke on a panel titled “Protecting Jewish communities against swatting and other antisemitic threats.” After the event, he posted on X, “Combating all forms of hatred is a collective effort, and no one should face it alone.”

His support of the Jewish community dates back prior to the Hamas attack. In 2022, he spoke at an event marking the third anniversary of a mass shooting at a New Jersey kosher deli. In April 2023, he delivered remarks at the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, where he encouraged the audience to report all incidents of antisemitism so that law enforcement could find trends and possible links between incidents.

“If you see something unsettling, report it,” said Platkin. “It breaks my heart honestly to hear someone say, ‘We thought it was too small. It was only a swastika on a playground.’”

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