New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger (D) engaged in a series of tweets about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and the non-existence of Palestine last week.

They generated such an uproar from The Usual Suspects that he has been tossed off an immigration committee at the insistence of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and influential anti-Semitic figure Linda Sarsour.

It all started on March 26th, in a response from him to a tweet from Omar about AIPAC and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

For stating the obvious, outrage ensued, but he was undeterred:

After Sarsour spoke out against Yeger’s tweets, radical left wing protesters converged on his Brooklyn office just a day later (note: they originally planned to protest at his home, but changed their plans):

“Brooklyn is home to one of largest Palestinian communities. It’s irresponsible & dangerous to engage in this blatant bigotry. I’m Palestinian, I exist & so does my community,” left-wing activist Linda Sarsour said. “Yeger needs to be removed from the Immigration Committee & apologize publicly to Palestinian New Yorkers.”

[…]

Pro-Palestine groups, including Bay Ridge for Social Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, New York Progressive Action Network and NYC Democratic Socialists of America, organized a protest outside of Yeger’s [office] Thursday night.

Counter-protesters made their voices known, too:

The New York Times reported Monday that the anti-Yeger outrage mob was so vocal that the city council made moves to punish the councilman:

New York City, home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel, has often served as a proxy battleground for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

[…]

But as more Palestinian immigrants have settled in New York, the political calculus has grown slightly more complicated…..

[…]

On Monday, the City Council’s leadership team met for more than an hour and decided to remove Mr. Yeger from the immigration committee, The New York Times has learned. There was “broad consensus” that Mr. Yeger’s views were inconsistent with the committee’s mission, participants said.

“I do not believe that someone who engages in the type of rhetoric we heard from Council Member Yeger belongs on the immigration committee, which is supposed to welcome and support immigrants in our city,” Corey Johnson, the Council’s speaker, said in a statement.

Sarsour celebrated the news:

Michael Leon said this about what happened:

You don’t need to agree with Kalman Yeger to acknowledge that what happened to him was wrong, and the full embrace of Linda Sarsour’s conflation of the view that Palestine doesn’t exist with Islamophobia by city politicians is frightening. It also comes at a time when members of Kalman’s constituency are facing spikes in antisemitism. This was a power play. It’s a wake up call. The next target won’t be Kalman. It will eventually be anybody who expresses an Israel-positive view. That’s what these activists are ultimately going for.

And I say that as somebody who has decried views like Kalman’s for years and can acknowledge that his attempt to hedge and say that he was only referring to Palestine the state is probably less than genuine given his past comments about so-called Palestinians; it doesn’t matter, and it wouldn’t have saved him from this mob made up of activists who probably don’t acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist.

But I know how this will play in his community. It will not advance understanding or dialogue. It will cause everybody to dig into their positions. And the contrast between the treatment of this young, inexperienced Jewish religious politician, who was given no leeway, no benefit of the doubt, no understanding and Ilhan Omar, a considerably more experienced religious politician, who was given every benefit of the doubt by her defenders, who repeat her bogus apology in the same breath as they tell us it was not necessary, could not be more stark.

Jewish News Syndicate editor in chief Jonathan Tobin put the events of the past three months involving Omar, Tlaib, Sarsour and then later Yeger in perspective in a recent column:

But the reason why “Palestine” isn’t a country isn’t a function of prejudice. De Blasio is a supporter of Israel and AIPAC, but he still chided Yeger, saying that denying the right of the Palestinians to a home is a form of prejudice. The trouble with that argument is that Palestinian identity has been inextricably tied to denying the right of the Jews to a state in the same country. Those who advocate, as the New York City mayor does, for a two-state solution to the conflict assert that there is a way for both peoples to have a home alongside each other. However, when people like Omar, Sarsour, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and the BDS movement they support—let alone the leaders of Fatah or Hamas movements—say “Palestine,” they are not referring to a separate state next door to a secure Jewish state. They are, instead, referring to their hope of replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian state that will deny the right of the Jews to self-determination.

Opposing that ambition—as Yeger clearly intended in his original tweet—is not Islamophobic or even necessarily rooted in hate against Palestinians. While Yeger’s willingness to oppose Israel’s foes in this manner was not the sort of thing that will bring Jews and Arabs together in an ethnically diverse borough, it’s also not the same thing as Omar’s anti-Semitic statements or her support of a BDS movement that aims at Israel’s annihilation.

Foreign policy has long been a theme of New York politics, and in years past, mayoral hopefuls often felt they had to demonstrate their support for the three “I’s”: Israel, Ireland and Italy. But if support for “Palestine,” whether alongside or replacing Israel, is now a requirement, Sarsour is right about a sea change in the city’s politics and that of the Democratic Party that dominates it. Now that the same party that shielded Omar has punished Yeger, it certainly won’t strengthen the Democrats’ efforts to be considered a pro-Israel party.

Indeed.

–Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter.–

 
 
donate
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.