TRENTON — Lines are being drawn over a city councilwoman using the phase "Jew her down" — with two of her peers on the council saying it's just a normal phrase.

The New Jersey Globe first reported Trenton city council president Kathy McBride used  the phrase “Jew her down” during an executive session on Sept. 5 when discussing a personal injury claim.

"I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down for $22,000 worth of pins in her knee that can never, ever be repaired. I am so sad for her as a Trenton resident,” The Globe reported McBride said, citing a recording of the meeting.

McBride told the Globe she will not comment on the matter citing the private nature of an executive session. She has not yet returned a message from New Jersey 101.5.

Sen. Bob Menendez on Monday was the latest to criticize McBride and called her use of the term as "offensive" during a press conference.

“These are the tropes that get used against the Jewish community that create the incipiency of anti-Semitic remarks," he said, as quoted by the Globe and confirmed by his office to New Jersey 101.5. "They just have no place, and I don’t expect any public official to make such a type of comment."

Mayor Reed Gusciora told New Jersey 101.5 he asked McBride to apologize as comments such as that have "no place in the public discourse."

Gusciora said that McBride has issued an apology to the attorney involved in the executive session.

But McBride also had her defenders on the council.

Fellow council member Robin Vaughn, in Facebook comment the Trentonian referenced, showing a screenshot, said she hadn't heard the comment but didn't consider it biased against Jews.

“We really need to get a more acute meaning and understanding of ‘anti-Semitic.’ I believe her comment ‘Jew down’ was more in reference to negotiating, not ‘I hate Jews.' Inappropriate in today’s PC culture absolutely, but to Jew someone down is a verb and is not anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people," Vaughn wrote.

She also accused Gusciora of using the controversy as a "distraction" from other city issues.

"The mayor should stop grandstanding and pretending to care about racism and discrimination issues. His purported outrage is not about fighting racism and discrimination. His purported outrage is really a thinly disguised pretext for going after Council President McBride to discredit and undermine her accomplishments because she takes her job seriously and openly challenges his commitment to the City of Trenton," Vaughn said in a separate statement posted on insidernj.com, as well as to her own Facebook page.

Councilman George Muschal told the New Jersey Globe he's heard the term many times and called it a "statement of speech." He said he did not hear McBride make the comment and expected her to apologize.

“You know, it’s like a car dealer, they wanted $5,000, you Jew ‘em down to $4,000,” The Globe quoted Muschal saying. “It’s nothing vicious. The expression has been said millions of times.”

Councilman at large Jerell Blakeley in a statement called on both Muschal and McBride to resign.

"Councilman Muschal’s unrepentant and unapologetically vile Anti-Semitic rhetoric has no place in American political discourse. His comments rely on dangerous Anti-Semitic tropes of Jews as parsimonious and swindlers. With Anti-Semitic attacks and hate crimes on the rise, I cannot stand silent on this issue. His comments have brought embarrassment and shame to the Trenton City Council and his constituents. His vicious Anti-Semitism has no place on Trenton City Council. God knows what other 'statements of speech' he finds appropriate for the public square," Blakeley wrote.

Earlier, in a separate statement, he said McBride should quit because her refusal to apologize brought "further dishonor and ill repute to this council and to our city." NJ.com reported he wants Vaughn to resign as well.

Separately, Paterson city councilman Michael Jackson used the phrase "Jew us down" during during a council meeting on Tuesday and was criticized by Mayor Andre Sayegh for, he said, not delivering a sincere apology.

In a joint statement released with legislative representatives, Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie called for Jackson's censure.

“Councilman Jackson’s comments are inexcusable; members of Paterson’s City Council should stand together and censure him immediately," Currie said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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