MOSHE HILL OPINION COLUMNS SEPTEMBER 06 2023
This past week, NYS Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani and State Senator Kristen Gonzalez hosted a town hall to discuss their legislation that aims to prohibit New York registered charities from funding Israeli organizations operating in Judea and Samaria. Hosted in what is quickly becoming a hub of anti-Semitic activism – CUNY Law – the town hall aimed to discuss the Not On Our Dime Act, a Radical Left piece of legislation.
This act was previously written about in the Queens Jewish Link when it was introduced this past May. From that column: “The bill seeks to allow the Attorney General of the State of New York (currently Letitia James) to dissolve any not-for-profit if it engages in “unlawful support of Israeli settlement activity. What is that activity? That includes “Unlawful transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory,” “Acts of violence committed by Israeli citizens against protected persons living in occupied territory,” “Forced transfer or eviction of protected persons within occupied territory, or eviction from occupied territory,” or “Appropriation, expropriation, seizure, destruction, demolition, dismantlement, or confiscation, in whole or in part, of private Palestinian land or residential, business, social, or public structures or infrastructure, inhabited or uninhabited.”
In layman’s terms, if any Israeli lives anywhere but the pre-1967 borders, if the IDF goes after terrorists in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, or even East Jerusalem, or protects their citizenry from the predations of these terrorist organizations that have been targeting the Israeli civilian population for over 50 years, that is illegal settlement activity. So basically, any charity that supports the Israeli Army, victims of terrorism, or even builds a playground or finances a school in these areas means that the organization can be dissolved by the state. This includes nearly every Jewish institution in New York.”
Sitting on the stage of this town hall was a who’s who of Jew Haters who boast impressive resumes of radical extreme Leftism. Aside from Mamdani and Gonzalez, there was Tarek Ismail, a law professor at CUNY; Elena Stein, the director of organizing strategy with the Jewish Voice for Peace (a California-based progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization); Diala Shamas, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestine correspondent for The Nation magazine.
Each one of these characters has a lengthy and checkered history of hating Israel, Zionism, and Jews in general. Mamdani was elected in 2020 after a contentious primary battle and has had no Republican challenger since. He helped found a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, supports the BDS movement, and has called Rashida Tlaib his hero. He has been actively pushing false Palestinian narratives about the conflicts between Israel and Hamas for over a decade.
Kristen Gonzalez, like Mamdani, is a Democratic Socialist. Assuming office in January of this year, she has pushed the anti-Israel Socialist agenda relentlessly during her tenure. Blaming the situation between Israel and the Palestinians on colonialism and capitalism, Gonzalez said at the town hall that “in New York we can set the standard.” The standard, in Gonzalez’s view, is one of disowning the greatest ally America has in the Middle East.
Tarek Ismail, a professor at CUNY Law, is a well-known speaker in the BDS community, and is a featured speaker at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights this coming October. Other featured speakers are Marc Lamont Hill, who was just hired by CUNY, and Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement. CUNY Law itself has radicalized the student body to the point where back-to-back commencement speakers chosen by the students went on crazed, unhinged anti-Israel and anti-American rants to the applause of the students, faculty, and administration.
Elena Stein, of Jewish Voice for Peace, made some headlines in 2021 when she approached Senator Chuck Schumer on the street and said, “New York Jews demand you stop funding the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” Stein, who does not speak for New York Jews, did not get a satisfactory response from Schumer, who claimed that he was “for a two-state solution,” the standard response of the cowardly and ignorant politician. JVP is of course one of the leading anti-Israel groups in American college life. According to Canary Mission, “JVP has promoted anti-Semitism, expressed support for terrorists, and defended anti-Israel agitators. The group has also attempted to leverage intersectional politics to spread hatred of Israel and Zionism, particularly on college campuses.”
Diala Shamas comes from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a far-left organization that boasts that they “are lawyers who center our legal strategies around the aspirations of progressive social movements.” Among those social movements are, of course, the BDS movement and Palestinian grievances against Israel. Born in East Jerusalem, Shamas is a senior staff attorney supervising the CLEAR project at CUNY School of Law and has written extensively about her disgust with Israel for designating Palestinian groups as terrorist groups.
Mohammed El-Kurd, as a writer for The Nation, has the largest repository of statements against Israel and Zionism. He is considered a co-founder of the #SaveShiekhJarrah movement in 2021 and was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine that year. For those who don’t remember, that entire movement was based on a decades-old legal dispute and became a pretense for violence against Israeli citizens – like when anyone of importance visits the Temple Mount. He spouts hatred towards “army-backed settlers with Brooklyn accents” and calls Zionism “an ideology of dispossession, an expansionist and racist settler-colonial enterprise.”
These are some of the leaders of the movement to criminalize charitable giving to Israel. They are obviously radical and have years of hatred towards Israel, America, and Western Civilization behind them and ahead of them. Do not be fooled that that means they will not gain influence among those who are considered moderate. All of them are accredited, articulate, and devoted to their cause of seeing the Jewish state destroyed. It’s not enough that this bill is defeated or does not even come up for a vote. The people who sponsored this bill must be defeated at the ballot box. Their ideology must be defeated in the public square. They must be told that their hatred towards Jews is unacceptable, and the enemies of the Jewish people have all, without exception, faded into obscurity. That is the mission before us, and these members of the panel should be the first to receive it.