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.
brooklyn council member calls ilhan omar an antisemite. this is the same council member who has repeatedly said that palestine does not exist and refers to them as “so-called palestinians”https://t.co/lfdaUf1Nsx https://t.co/uOTziGwih3
— zainab iqbal (@planetzainab) March 27, 2019
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.
Palestine does not exist.
There, I said it again.
Also, Congresswoman Omar is an antisemite. Said that too.
Thanks for following me. https://t.co/apM565HoEV
— Kalman Yeger (@KalmanYeger) March 27, 2019
“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.”
We should all be working towards a peaceful two state solution for Israel and Palestine that respects the dignity of both the Palestinian and Israeli people. pic.twitter.com/0Ypsp9QfFT
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) March 27, 2019
Councilman Justin Brannan also told his colleague that “this isn’t helpful.”
I love you, brother, but this isn’t helpful.
As u know, I proudly represent one of the largest Palestinian communities in the country. And I support their aspiration for self-determination, in an independent state.
Please don’t tell my constituents their homeland doesn’t exist. https://t.co/lLrfxxTylO
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) March 27, 2019
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.
A two-state solution is the best hope for peace. I challenge anyone who thinks the State of Israel shouldn’t exist. But the same goes for anyone who would deny Palestinians a home. https://t.co/3JvnS4UOhm
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 27, 2019
The fact that you can’t call out blatant anti-Palestinian bigotry makes you absolutely no different than this racist and your actions in office make you far worse
— Sexy Brezhnev ? (@squirrel_doom) March 28, 2019
You are a BRILLIANT politician you just played to both sides… So I’m calling you on it. What do all the people of Israel think of your statement as do the Palestinian people. Is Mayor Deblasio playing both sides and WAFFLING? Is his statement FAKE? pic.twitter.com/Dmc6QJAWp6
— SBA (@SBANYPD) March 27, 2019
What a vaguely written tweet. Strong issues require stronger responses. You might as well just delete this tweet and not say anything
— Ali Mohammed (@Alimohammed197) March 27, 2019
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.
This blatant bigot serves on the New York City Council Committee on Immigration. Is @NYCCouncil concerned he might discriminate against other immigrants like Ilhan Omar?
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) March 27, 2019
If anybody said anything remotely similar about any other nation or people they’d be immediately ostracized. Disgusting.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) March 27, 2019
What a shame you are to the people of New York. You should be immediately removed off the council, your hatefulness is not needed nor tolerated. I mean look at you… -S pic.twitter.com/ER7t4DQyAF
— Ohio for Bernie ???? (@ohio_bernie) March 27, 2019
But other Twitter users came to Yeger’s defense, backing his comments and stirring the controversial debate.
If the media wants to go after @KalmanYeger for this, they’ll need to go after hundreds of thousands of his fellow new Yorkers who believe the same. Enough is enough we don’t have to blindly follow the new progressive dogma.
— Yosef H (@yossy770) March 27, 2019
Should we use the UN as an unbiased source for Israeli/Palestinian discussion?
They have passed more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country. This in the modern era of Venezuela, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and China, to name a few.
— Nick Wong (@nwwong) March 27, 2019
Look at a map there is no Palestine. It’s fact not racist
— Nolan (@nolanp09) March 27, 2019
I do understand however that if someone disagrees with u they must be racist because only you can identify racism. Typical lib
— Nolan (@nolanp09) March 27, 2019
Finally someone said it! https://t.co/itXeNbYhXq
— RJ Grund (@rjgrund) March 28, 2019
Bravo Mr Yeger. Refreshing to see a Lawmaker who knows the law.
— Pinny Loketch (@pinnyloketch) March 27, 2019
Finally some balls.
— fred skunx (@FSkunx) March 27, 2019
This is Truth https://t.co/Os5NGdN159
— Wv_Deplorable (@wv_Deplorable) March 28, 2019
Technically correct. Palestinians are nomadic, living on lands of Jordan and Syria. When Jews reclaimed Israel in 1947, they sought to live in peace. Yassar Arafat said NO; we want a homeland: yours. #FactsMatter
‘Palestine does not exist’: https://t.co/zW6GjTn5vp
— Andie Germaine (@AndGermaine) March 27, 2019
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