An outpouring of outrage was the response to the questionnaire that the New York City Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA) sent to potential candidates for the New York City Council concerning travel to Israel and support of the BDS movement.
On Thursday, NY1 reporter Zack Fink publicized a questionnaire sent by NYC-DSA, showing they asked specifically if the candidate would pledge not to travel Israel “in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation?” The NYC-DSA acknowledged that foreign policy fell outside the purview of a municipal government, but travel to a country by elected officials, or refraining from such travel, sends a powerful message.
In addition, the questionnaire asked if the candidate supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, and if not, why?
Reaction was swift from many circles, including Agudas Yisrael of America, which issued a statement which strongly condemned the NYC-DSA Council candidate questionnaire.
“To single out Israel and hold her to a different standard than any other country, including repressive regimes around the globe, is repugnant and reeks of anti-Semitism. Singling out Israel for boycotts and sanctions even more so.
“We call on the DSA to remove those offensive questions from their questionnaire and we appeal to all candidates of good conscience to reject any support so long as that question remains.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum chimed in with their condemnation of the questionnaire.
The Jewish Caucus of the New York City Council, chaired by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, released a statement in which they declared the abhorrence for the NYC-DSA requiring candidates seeking their endorsement to pledge not to travel to Israel.
“This is rank antisemitism, and has no place in our City, which has the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel.
“No political organization should etch into its platform such blatant antisemitism as a pledge not to visit the Jewish state, and no candidte for public office should seek the support of an organization that does.”
NYC Councilman Kalman Yeger, who represents the 44th district in the city council, told Hamodia, “Any candidate for public office who can’t see the antisemitism inherent in that question is telling us exactly who they are. When you can’t bring yourself to condemn antisemitism, you’re standing with the antisemites. That tells us all we need to know.”
NYS Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, representing the 27th in Queens, replied to Fink’s tweet of the news about the questionnaire by tweeting a picture of himself in Israel, and the words “Hard pass.”
Steve Saperstein, a Democratic candidate for the 48th Council District in Midwood, tweeted in reply to the two DSA Questions: “1. NO 2. NO. Oops, your anti-Semitism is showing!”
Saperstein’s opponent for the council, Amber Adler, said in a statement, “By singling out Israel, the New York City Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organization is attempting to push an antisemetic agenda under the guise of an endorsement process for New York City Council Candidates. This is a blatant attempt to foster hate and build a coalition of anti-Jewish support in local government.”
New York State Senator Anna Kaplan, who represents the 7th district of Long Island, tweeted, “This ‘pledge’ targeting the only Jewish state is pure anti-Semitism. As the only Jewish religious refugee in the New York legislature, I call on every candidate to refuse an endorsement from the NYCDSA until they remove these questions from their questionnaire and apologize.”
Senator Kaplan was born in Tabriz, Iran, and was raised in Tehran. She arrived in this country as an unaccompanied refugee at age 13 when the Islamic revolution swept up the country.
NYC-DSA responded to inquiries by tweeting that council members have taken expense-paid trips to Israel to foster ties between local officials and Israel, and it is the only country to which council members have taken such trips for this purpose. The purpose of the question was to clarify if candidates would respect the call of Palestinians who object to such junkets.
“New York has a large Palestinian community, and elected officials in NYC should represent those communities just as much as they represent others,” the DSA tweet said.