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New York Council Race Spurs Anti-Jewish Hate

Jacob Kornbluh

Council Primaries Campaigns Called Out for Anti-Semitic Rhetoric

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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DIVERSITY WELCOME The New York City Council is the epitome of diversity and tolerance. Jewish council members, like Chaim Deutsch (R) hope it stays that way (Photo: Official NYC council photo by William Alatriste)

J ust months before the September primaries for New York City Council, at least two campaigns have been called out for their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.

Candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a longtime political agitator and anti-Semite running in Upper Manhattan, sent a recent e-mail to supporters urging them to donate to his fledgling campaign so he can both target incumbent Mark Levine and expose so-called Jewish control of New York City real estate. “I will use $100,000 in taxpayer’s money to mail voters: Protect Tenants from Greedy Jewish Landlords,” he said in an e-mail, which also directed supporters to research Levine’s Jewish donors.

In the 43rd Council District in Brooklyn, Democrat candidate Khader El-Yateem, a Palestinian-American, recently announced his support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. El-Yateem, running to replace outgoing Councilman Vincent Gentile, said in a video posted on his Facebook page last week: “It is an issue of justice. It is a nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” The Bethlehem-born Lutheran minister is supported by controversial Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, a prominent anti-Israel figure and anti-Trump organizer.

City officials have rushed to denounce Lopez-Pierre and demand he apologize; at the same time, he’s not viewed as a serious candidate who has any chance of taking his district. El-Yateem, on the other hand, could easily win the support of the sizeable Arab and Asian populations in his precinct in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which condemned Lopez-Pierre back in 2012 for similar statements, said on Sunday said that it is “best not to focus on fringe candidates or extremists who espouse anti-Semitism.”

David Greenfield: “Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times. All people of good will need to band together to make sure these candidates lose”

Councilman David Greenfield, however, said there was a disturbing pattern of candidates running on anti-Semitic platforms. “Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times,” Greenfield, a Democrat, told Mishpacha. “Anti-Semitism is up over 200% this year in New York. All people of good will need to band together to make sure these candidates lose.” City Councilman Mark Levine, chair of the New York City Jewish Caucus, said silence in the face of hate is not an option. “We must confront and denounce this hatred unambiguously,” he said. “I will continue to run my campaign based on the principles of tolerance of people of all backgrounds and rejection of bigotry in any form. I am confident the voters of my district will show they share these values as well.”

Bob Capano, one of three Republicans vying for the seat in the Bay Ridge, called on all the candidates to condemn El-Yateem’s support of BDS and urge him to immediately drop out of the race.

El-Yateem’s chief rival is Justin Brannan, an aide to Councilman Gentile, who is considered an establishment favorite. “I strongly oppose the BDS movement that at its core seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to exist,” Brannan said in a statement to Mishpacha. “Israel is a vital US ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. BDS is counter to the inclusiveness and tolerance that we here in Southwest Brooklyn value.”

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 657. Jacob Kornbluh additionally serves as the political writer for www.JewishInsider.com.

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