Al Sharpton, who has a long and tragic history of anti-Semitism, ventured to suggest that pro-gun opponents of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push for gun control are motivated by racist feelings about Jewish people.

MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle got the ball rolling on the racism charge. “Let’s get down to it, Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, there’s a level of anti-Semitism in this thing directed towards Bloomberg,” Barnicle said on Morning Joe, as NRO noted.

And then the pot called the kettle anti-Semitic. “No doubt about that,” Sharpton concurred. “If he was not a big-city Jewish man and was from another ethnic group, in some parts, I think it would be different.”

It’s a striking comment given Sharpton’s history of animosity towards “big-city Jewish men” — or, as he used to call them, “diamond merchants.”

In 1991, Sharpton defended a New York City College professor who accused “rich Jews” of financing slavery. “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house,” Sharpton said during the ensuing controversy.

Phil Klein recalls what happened next:

A day after Sharpton made that comment, in August 1991, a Jewish driver accidentally ran over a 7-year old black boy named Gavin Cato in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and an anti-Semitic riot broke out in which Jewish rabbinical scholar Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death. Instead of calling for calm, Sharpton incited the rioters, leading marches in the streets that included chants of “No Justice, No Peace!” and “Kill the Jews!” At a funeral for the boy who had been run over, Sharpton said, “The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. … It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. … Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights.” For those unfamiliar, “diamond merchants” was a thinly-veiled reference to Jewish jewelers.

Klein also recalls how, in the context of another controversy, one of the men who had participated in protests led by Sharpton’s National Action Network “stormed into [a Jewish-owned] store armed with a gun, and burned the place to the ground, killing seven people, and shooting himself.”