Protesters Crash Stand With Israel Event

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Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Crash City Council’s “Stand With Israel” Press Conference

Here’s a question: why would the New York City Council and various other local and state politicians decide to wade into the miserable, never-ending, blood-filled dogpile that is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? In what way does a press conference on the Middle East dovetail with the actual business of our elected officials here in New York? Could a press conference called “New York Stands with Israel” possibly serve any other concrete purpose except to be a magnet for controversy? Seriously, how could this possibly end well?

And yet that’s exactly what happened this morning on the steps of City Hall, where a passel of elected officials held a press conference to declare their support for Israel in the midst of this latest bout of sad, terrifying sectarian violence. The group included Senator Charlie Rangel, his recent opponent State Senator Adriano Espaillat, State Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrod Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and city council members David Greenfield and Mark Levine, among others. The event was organized in cooperation with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, a large philanthropic group. Ambassador Ido Aharoni, the Israeli Consul General here, also attended. You’ll absolutely be able to predict what happened next.

The press conference began at 10 a.m. inside the City Hall gates. Outside, separated by 100 yards or so of concrete, some iron gates, and some very unamused police officers,the inevitable counter-demonstration began at the same time. That demonstration was organized on Facebook by two prominent local pro-Palestinian activists, Raja Abdulhaq and Lamis Deek. Abdulhaq is a community organizer, while Deek is a human rights attorney with the National Lawyers Guild. The event description decried the City Council’s support for what Abdulhaq and Deek called “Israel’s continuous occupation and terrorism against innocent people in Palestine since 1948, and following the latest Israeli assaults and massacres against Palestinians in Gaza.” They added, “New Yorkers refuse to have the city council speak on their behalf in supporting Israel’s atrocities in the past week where more than 156 of Palestinians were killed and thousands injured.”

 

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The City Council & Co. blithely went about their presser, doing their best to ignore the shouting outside, which was clearly audible even from a great distance. Demonstrators chanted “Not another nickel for Israel’s crimes!,” “New York to Palestine, ethnic cleansing is a crime!”, and “Zionism is racism!” One sign read “Israel = Ku Klux Klan,” and paired an image of Emmett Till, the black teenager killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955, with one of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old Palestinian kidnapped by three Jewish Israelis and burned alive on July 2. Khdeir’s murder is believed to be in retribution for the killings of three Israeli teenagers, abducted on June 12 and later found dead in the West Bank.

 

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Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t attend the press conference, but as Capital New York points out, he did express strong support for Israel at a January event held by lobbying group AIPAC. The event itself became a magnet for a bit of controversy for the mayor: his staff left it off his public schedule, and a Capital reporter who tried to attend the event was speedily escorted right out the door.

After the press conference ended, some elected officials vanished back into City Hall. Others walked out the iron gates past lines of protesters, looking neither right nor left, with fixed smiles on their faces.

  • eddiestinson

    A mindless question. Who doesn’t know why countless politicians fall over themselves doing the bidding and giving more billions of $$$$$$$$ to Israel?

  • easywriter

    it’s genocide — the opposite of the very thing Jews (I was one of them) said long ago, Never again. But before we cast stones, we need to remind ourselves how this country began….

  • frankgr1111

    This is an antithesis to everything The United States and (supposedly) Israel stand for. The fact that the US is using Israel for Geo-Political strategic purposes should not allow it to fog its principles and in general turn a blind eye to an International Humanitarian catastrophe that is more important to many millions of people, than anything else in the State Dept at this point. The US has NEVER stood by in the face of such tyranny, genocide. Never!

  • Linda Jansen

    frankgr1111 — especially after the invasion of Iraq, the principles of the U.S. are clear and, as the politicians of both gov’ts keep saying, the U.S. and Israel share the same “values.” They include bombing babies from F16s and raiding village homes to take away innocent men and boys and throwing them in prison to torture.

    The people of Gaza are feeling the cutting blade now, but soon enough we will all be at the mercy of these ruthless corporate puppets.

    The above article was not particularly well written. It is infused with false equality between Israel and Palestine (“dog pile”) when the truth is that European Jews were encouraged by their leadership to come to Palestine and take it over. Palestine was colonized and the people there will never give up their land willingly. Thus the resistance that we witness now and the slaughter that Israel employs to persuade them otherwise.

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