If we had any doubt that once obvious truths have become mere poker chips in the ruthless game of liberal one-upmanship, the removal of New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger from his committee assignment has cleared the table.
This week, Yeger lost his position on the Council’s Immigration Committee for posting this comment on Twitter: “Palestine does not exist. There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman Omar is an antisemite. Said that too. Thanks for following me.”
The freshman council member from Brooklyn’s 44th District, who handily won the 2018 election to fill the seat vacated by David Greenfield, tweeted these words after supporters of Rep. Ilhan Omar cried foul at Yeger’s previous tweet calling her an anti-Semite. The exchange occurred in the course of a discussion – if such is possible in installments of 280 characters or less – about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the recent AIPAC summit in which he made a not-too-subtle reference to the Israel-bashing musings of the upstart Minnesota Democrat. Netanyahu: “Take it from this Benjamin – it’ s not about the Benjamins.”
In the facile universe that the Democratic Party occupies today – in which a fake apology, like fake news, is all it takes to keep your seat at the table – Yeger could have taken a page from Omar’s playbook and pretended to take back his words and any offense they had caused. But despite being roundly attacked, he stood his ground, stating at a news conference, “There is no state by that name [Palestine]. There is no place by that name. That’s a fact.”
And so, to the lockstep applause of every other city-wide elected official from Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (remember those names come election time) – as well as Linda Sarsour and her cohorts – City Council Speaker Corey Johnson pulled Yeger off the Immigration Committee.
Johnson said, “I do not believe that someone who engages in the type of rhetoric we heard from Council Member Yeger belongs on the immigration committee, which is supposed to welcome and support immigrants in our city.” Sarsour crowed, “This sends a wider message that saying anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian things comes with consequences.”
One thing is for sure: If Linda Sarsour is celebrating, it’s not a good day for the Jews.
Our outrage at this turn of events goes far beyond the injustice to Yeger, which itself demands redress. Whatever one’s opinion of the wisdom of sounding out about the Israel-Palestinian conflict on social media, this incident reflects a larger crisis for our Jewish community. The disturbing facts now staring us in the face are that the Democratic Party – both on the local level and in Washington – has become hostile to proud supporters of Israel; that free speech does not apply to those who speak truths unfavored by the radical left now dominating the party; that a double standard applies when the offending speaker is a “progressive”; and that anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views can rarely be disassociated from each other.
The increase in anti-Semitic assaults and acts of vandalism in the tri-state area has already rattled our complacency as Jews, at the same time that New York’s leap to the forefront of the culture wars has marginalized the influence of our community and all those who stand for traditional moral norms. But the choreographed takedown of Kalman Yeger could have a far more damaging and chilling effect by discouraging politicians who represent our views and our values from speaking up – or even stepping up for public office.