WOMEN’S MARCH organizers Carmen Perez, Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour take the stage during a protest called March for Racial Justice in New York City. (Reuters).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A group of more than 1,000 traditional rabbis are calling on American political activist Linda Sarsour to apologize for “peddling in antisemitic falsehoods,” according to reports.
Sarsour called Orthodox Jewish City Councilman Kalman Yeger “a blatant bigot” and demanded a public apology from him for saying that the State of Palestine does not exist. Otherwise, she said, he should be removed from New York's Immigration Committee.
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), described as representing over 1,000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, issued a public statement
on March 29 in support of Yeger and said that “achieving peace requires we address the reality — and to claim that Arabs have a ‘right’ to take more land from the Jews of Israel inverts reality, in a classically antisemitic fashion.”
The battle between Yeger and Sarsour started last Wednesday when Yeger tweeted that United States Representative Ilhan Omar is an antisemite and then that “There is no Palestine.”
“Palestine does not exist,” Yeger wrote. “There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman Omar is an antisemite. Said that too. Thanks for following me.”
Sarsour then organized a rally
outside of Yeger’s office on Thursday to which a handful of protestors turned out. However, some 200 Orthodox Jewish counter-protestors attended the rally in Boro Park, outnumbering Sarsour’s followers 10 to one.
Yeger was not in his office during the protest. He told the media that he would not apologize for his tweet, as he does not believe he did anything wrong.
“I never referred to Palestinian people,” he told the Jewish Press. “My reference was a to a geographic reality - an international, legal reality. There is no entity by that name [Palestine]. That’s a fact.”
The CJV rabbis statement backed up Yeger’s claims, walking readers through what they described as the history of Palestine.
“The name Palestine was coined by Greek and Roman colonialists anxious to disenfranchise the natives,” wrote Rabbi Yaakov Menken, in the CJV statement. “That has been its meaning and intent ever since. It is no coincidence that this came up during a discussion of the classic antisemitic falsehoods expressed by Rep. Ilhan Omar. ”
Similarly, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, CJV Eastern Regional vice president, said, “There has never been a country called Palestine. Jews have been connected to the land of Israel continuously for 37 centuries. Find a ‘Palestinian’ writer from the 6th, 16th or 19th Century, and you will find a Jew. In 1948, the Palestine Post became the Jerusalem Post. ‘Palestinian Arabs’ are a late 20th Century creation, concocted for the sole purpose of thwarting the national state of the Jewish people.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday joined Sarsour’s cause, as did Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who said that Yeger should issue an apology or be removed from the immigration committee, as Sarsour recommended. Johnson has final say in committee assignments.
Since the Twitter storm, Yeger has received threats against himself and his family, according to haredi publication Yeshiva World News
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