Boston city council member walks back antisemitic tweet

“Y’all are letting the Zionists SHAKE YOU DOWN,” Councilor Kendra Lara tweeted on Thursday.

The Boston City Hall lights up in blue and white for Israel's 73rd Independence Day, April 15, 2021.  (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)
The Boston City Hall lights up in blue and white for Israel's 73rd Independence Day, April 15, 2021.
(photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

A Democratic member of Boston’s city council said she “should’ve known better” after tweeting an attack on “Zionists” after a federal court upheld an Arkansas law prohibiting Israel boycotts.

“Y’all are letting the Zionists SHAKE YOU DOWN,” Councilor Kendra Lara initially tweeted Thursday. She later deleted the tweet after receiving criticism, including from the director of the New England Anti-Defamation League.

In a subsequent series of tweets, Lara said she had been responding to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld an Arkansas law allowing the state to compel contractors to sign a statement promising not to boycott Israel. The ruling had been celebrated by some pro-Israel groups, but free speech and press freedom advocates warned it threatened a fundamental component of constitutionally protected speech.

Lara also acknowledged that her tweet’s “use of the phrase ‘shake them down’ reinforces Anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish people.” Without formally apologizing, she wrote that she “should’ve known better” during a time “when we’re seeing alarming rates of violence against Jewish people,” and appeared to credit Boston University professor Benjamin Siegel for advising her on her phrasing (though she tagged an ABC News reporter by the same name instead).

A member of the Democratic Socialists of America and the first woman of color to represent her district in Boston’s city council, Lara took office earlier this year. She previously held a senior position at Resist, a nonprofit co-founded by influential Jewish left-wing and pro-Palestinian activist Noam Chomsky.

Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a whale watching ferry that left from the aquarium dock. It is the Eastern side of the Boston peninsula. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a whale watching ferry that left from the aquarium dock. It is the Eastern side of the Boston peninsula. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Additional comments

“[C]onflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism will ultimately prevent us from being in true solidarity with both Jewish people and Palestinians.”

Councilor Kendra Lara

Lara added that “conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism will ultimately prevent us from being in true solidarity with both Jewish people and Palestinians.”

Jewish groups and antisemitism watchdogs in the Boston area had in recent weeks accused some pro-Palestinian activists of antisemitism after an anonymous collective posted a map linking diverse Jewish institutions to “the colonization of Palestine” and “other harms.”