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.”
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.