Brooklyn lawmaker fires at Rep. Omar, says ‘Palestine does not exist.’ De Blasio takes hit for his response.

(Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council/Flickr)

A New York City Councilman sparked a social media firestorm that embroiled Mayor Bill de Blasio after he accused Rep. Ilhan Omar of being anti-Semitic and denying the existence of Palestine.

Councilman Kalman Yeger came under heavy fire for remarks he made in response to a post by Zainab Iqbal, a reporter for the blog BKLYNER, who referred to the lawmaker’s previous comments about Palestine and the Democratic congresswoman.

Kalman’s initial tweet was aimed at Omar’s comments on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference this year.

“Palestine does not exist,” the Democratic Brooklyn Councilmember tweeted in response to Iqbal.

“There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman Omar is an anti-Semite. Said that, too. Thanks for following me,” Yeger added.

The tweet got thousands of responses and Yeger, who represents neighborhoods with large Jewish populations such as Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, was slammed by even his fellow council members.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson condemned Yeger’s comments as “unhelpful and unwelcome.”

Councilman Justin Brannan also told his colleague that “this isn’t helpful.”

New York City Mayor de Blasio tweeted that “a two-state solution is the best hope for peace” but his words only earned him rebukes from those who thought he “played both sides” and was not forceful enough in his condemnation of Yeger’s comments.

Muslim activist Linda Sarsour described de Blasio’s comment as “the weakest statement he could possibly come up with.”

“He needs to directly call out Councilmember Yeger in the same way he called out a black congresswoman who made poorly worded tweets,” Sarsour told Gothamist, referring to Omar’s controversial, anti-Semitic comments. “This is blatant bigotry, it’s a double standard, it’s Islamophobic hypocrisy.”

Many activists called for Yeger to apologize and be removed from the New York City Council Immigration Committee.

But other Twitter users came to Yeger’s defense, backing his comments and stirring the controversial debate.

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Frieda Powers

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