Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Crash City Council's "Stand With Israel" Press Conference

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Photos by Anna Merlan
Demonstrators at the City Hall gates
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.

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14 comments
adam.vant
adam.vant

There is no moral equivalency between Israel and the Arabs. The issue is the same as it has always been -- the world's irrational demented psychotic preoccupation with and hatred for the Jews.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Israel is in a tough spot.  They are consistently attacked by a group of people that want nothing short of their total destruction and do need to defend themselves.  

Sadly, clearly there are people on both sides of this conflict that don't ever want peace or integration.  

tsivyaspam
tsivyaspam

Why is Ms. Merlan not outraged that a press conference can't be held in peace without noisy disruptions from pro-"Palestinians"?  Is this not a disruption of free speech?  It is reminiscent of long ago when Peter Stuyvesant had canons fired repeatedly so Jews could not hold a service.


If this kind of disruption is utterly predictable, why isn't Ms. Merlan outraged?


And why is there no mention of the conflict being started by hundreds of missiles being fired into Israel's civilian areas just in the past week?

ido.leshem
ido.leshem

1. It's interesting to note the protesters talk about "Israel's continuous occupation and terrorism against innocent people in Palestine since 1948". This means they don't talk about the occupation of Gaza (that only took place in 1967), but on the very existance of the state of israel. These "human rights activists" ultimate goal is Israels's destruction. and they don't even try to hide it.

2. The only reason there aren't any heartbreaking stories about israelis being killed, is the fact that all the rockets targeting civilian populations were intercepted.

On the other hand, Hammas actually released an official order to people not to leave their homes in order to shield their rockets.

So tell me, if someone is (regretebly) killed, when a rocket launching facility near him is bombed, despite israel's warnings and because of hamas's orders, who is responsible to his death?

Rick Agcauili
Rick Agcauili

Stand w/ our Israeli friends. Signed a former VV staffer, who worked for Susan Belair, late 70s.

CataCaro Blanco
CataCaro Blanco

They´re brothers, come on, on stop the hate!!!! It´s the Evil Elite the real enemy, when are people going to realize this???? Divide and conquer, that´s their plan!!!

mrf948
mrf948

It would be nice if the author would learn which NYC politicians hold which political offices, and the difference between a state office and a federal office, and between a congressperson and a senator. 

I would also have liked her to have explored the following question: why was this an appropriate activity for the NYC Council, which can't even get the potholes fixed?

suhail_shafi
suhail_shafi

 American politicians who support Israeli should be jailed without trial, tortured in solitary confinement and have their homes demolished. That should give them an idea of what kind of hell Palestinians have been going through for the past six decades. 

Susie Hebert
Susie Hebert

This is not about taking sides....Its about saving lives......

Larry Klass
Larry Klass

A paper like the V Voice can be written and read in Israel. In Gaza and Muslim countries it would never be allowed. Which side is V Voice on?

macwade
macwade

Actually a few years ago, these events took place without any audible disruption. Maybe liberals are realizing that elected US officials who show up to these pressers have no place in our government.

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