Originally published May 25, 2022
The Celebrate Israel Parade occurred earlier this week, and among the 40,000 marchers from over 250 groups were the usual cavalcade of politicians who are seeking to ingratiate themselves to the Jewish community. They all claim to be pro-Israel, thinking this will get them votes and donations. However, when Israel is actually attacked within their own borders and jurisdictions, they are conspicuously silent.
Over the last few weeks, several major events happened that would have been a perfect opportunity for these politicians to show actual support for Israel, not when politically convenient but when it’s politically inconvenient – when the attacks are coming from within the same party.
On May 11, Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar accused Israel, without evidence, of murdering a Palestinian journalist. Over the weekend, on an Instagram video, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the same. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence that this journalist – who was caught in crossfire between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli military who came in after multiple terrorist attacks – was killed by an Israeli bullet. The only autopsy done was rushed by the Palestinian medical examiner, who deemed it too inconclusive to make a determination. No matter, the accusations came anyway.
On May 17, Tlaib introduced a House Resolution to recognize the Nakba, which is the “catastrophe” that all the Jews weren’t killed in 1948. She accuses Israel of “depopulating” Palestinian communities and “expropriation of Palestinian land and its dispossession of the Palestinian people that continues to this day.” This was co-sponsored by two representatives from New York: Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman.
On May 19, an unabashedly Jew-hating activist was selected to give a speech at the graduation ceremony for CUNY Law. Nerdeen Kiswani, who during her speech celebrated the BDS movement and its desire to economically destroy Israel, claimed that she has “been facing a campaign of Zionist harassment by well-funded organizations with ties to the Israeli government and military.” This “harassment” came after the organization she founded, Within Our Lifetimes, publicly calls for Intifada, celebrates terrorists, and demands a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which would be free of Jews. She has had a viral video in which she bragged about threatening to set a black man on fire because he was wearing an IDF sweatshirt.
None of these events warranted a word of condemnation from the bevy of politicians who attended the parade. This includes Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, Mayor Eric Adams, Representatives Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres, and Former Mayor and newly-announced Congressional candidate Bill de Blasio. Chuck Schumer, who calls himself “Shomer Yisroel” when politically convenient, is also silent, as is Kirsten Gillibrand.
There was another politician who marched in the parade, however. Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is running for Governor, also attended. “Just marched in the [Celebrate Israel] Parade in NYC,” he tweeted. “The US-Israel relationship is vitally important to both nations. In Congress, it’s been an honor to serve as Co-Chair of the House GOP Israel Caucus. Looking forward to taking office in January as NY’s first Jewish GOP Governor.” Unlike his Democrat colleagues, Zeldin strongly condemned both the House Resolution and the CUNY Law speaker. “This resolution is just the latest in a long line of antisemitic, anti-lsrael statements, policies and actions by the most radical voices in the Democratic Party,” Zeldin said in a statement. “Whether it’s supporting the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, falsely accusing Israel of war crimes, or suggesting that support for Israel by members of Congress is ‘all about the Benjamins’, this group on the far-left never misses an opportunity to dangerously promote antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments and agendas.”
Zeldin also brought light to Keswani’s antisemitic speech, tweeting that “As Governor, I’ll withhold CUNY $ unless it reverses course, combats the rise of antisemitism within its culture, policies and ranks, and fosters an employment and learning environment that once again protects Jewish students and faculty.”
Granted, it is far easier to go after the other party than your own, both politically and personally. Zeldin’s statements, while good and necessary, did not require an act of courage. A modicum of courage is all that is needed, however, for the Democrats to begin calling out the antisemitism in their own ranks. They will miss every opportunity to do so – and the opportunities are plenty – until they feel the political pressure. So Jewish Democrats who would normally donate or vote for these politicians must put pressure on them to do so. The organizers of the Parade, who marched with Hochul and James, must insist that if they are going to attend a pro-Israel event, they must call out anti-Zionism and antisemitism, even if it is uncomfortable. Without that, the Democratic Party will continue down the slope of Israel hatred until their whole Party is consumed.