Police ejected dozens of disruptive anti-Israel protesters from the New York City Council chamber during a debate on whether to adopt a resolution condemning boycotts of the Jewish State on Thursday.
The resolution in question, proposed by Council Member Andrew Cohen and supported by 33 of the council’s 51 members, proposes “condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from and sanction the people of Israel.”
Protesters, some identifying as pro-Palestinian, some associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and Neturei Karta, among others, continually disrupted the hours-long proceedings, waving Palestinian flags and shouting that “Zionism is racism,” “F**k Israel” and “Free Palestine,” to the point that police emptied out the Council chambers’ entire top-floor balcony.
Contracts Committee chairwoman Helen Rosenthal, who was presiding over the meeting, implored the crowd to take a “deep yoga breath” and counted to three, to no avail, the New York Daily News reported.
New York City Councilman David Greenfield (Brooklyn – D) said he was “shocked by the depth of anti-Israel sentiment and naked anti-Semitism on display” at the meeting.
“Shocked, but sadly unsurprised,” Greenfield added. “Any time you hold the BDS movement and its supporters up to any kind of scrutiny, you find either that they are simply ignorant, or that their motivations are rooted in bigotry and hatred. We saw both kinds of BDS supporters at today’s hearing.”
During the debate, Greenfield reprimanded the leader of the anti-Israel ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta sect Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, who staged a sit-in on the chambers’ floor.
“Let me ask you a question. Did the State of Israel exist when Hitler killed six million Jews? The answer is no,” Greenfield said, repeating himself several time as Weiss, who attended a Holocaust denial conference in Iran in the past, continually shouted at him. “Be a mensch, let’s have a conversation. I’m asking you a question.”
“Who do you speak for Mr. Weiss? You don’t represent Satmar. Don’t lie. You don’t even live in New York City. You live in Monsey! Who do you represent? You represent two dozen mentally unstable individuals. That’s all. You are the leader of this mentally unstable cult…Don’t pretend to represent our community…Who made you a rabbi? You represent no one but yourself,” Greenfield berated Weiss.
New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, the first Israeli-born NY state legislator, who represents parts of Queens, said in her testimony to the committee that the bipartisan resolution “sends a strong message that New York City will not tolerate any anti-Semitic or anti-Israel movement.
“The BDS movement aims to cut off the strong interactions, dialogue and partnerships that exist between New York and Israel,” Rozic warned.
Arab American Association of New York Executive Director Linda Sarsour, an outspoken BDS supporter, said the resolution impinges on the right to protest.
“Whatever happened to, ‘I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend your right to say it?’” Sarsour asked The New York Daily News
The resolution debated Thursday lists the BDS movement’s ills, such as that it “targets not just the Israeli government but Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel…targets Israel and only Israel, while ignoring the world’s myriad despotic regimes [when] Israel is far and away the most democratic and open society in the Middle East…the Global BDS Movement does not recognize the right of the Jewish People to national self-determination; and…some of the BDS Movement’s supporters and leaders have trafficked in unacceptable anti-Semitic rhetoric.”
Then, it proposes that it be “resolved that the Council of the City of New York condemns all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction its government and people.”
The resolution is expected to go to a vote in the Committee on Contracts at the end of this month, before moving on to the full City Council.
Earlier this year, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order barring state agencies from doing business with companies that support BDS.