Elected Officials Attend ‘Ceasefire’ Rally With Speakers Accusing Israel of Genocide

By Matis Glenn

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at the Wednesday vigil in front of City Hall (Public Advocate social media page)

New York City elected officials, including city councilmembers and the Public Advocate, attended a Wednesday rally which called for an immediate and complete ceasefire in Gaza, while reciting the names of 30,000 Palestinians the Hamas terror group says were killed in the war.

Hamas, in its counting of dead Palestinians, does not distinguish between civilians and Hamas combatants.

A few dozen demonstrators assembled in front of City Hall for the event, which had been organized by VOCAL-NY and dozens of pro-Palestinian organizations, including the Democratic Socialists of America; members of which demonstrated against Israel after the Oct. 7 massacre before Israel launched a counteroffensive.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams attended, along with progressive members of the city council Shahana Hanif (D-39), Lincoln Restler (D-33), Tiffany Cabán (D-22), Alexa Aviles (D-38) and Rita Joseph (D-40).

Restler, who is Jewish, accused Israel – without evidence – of “indiscriminately” killing people in Gaza.

“There is no possible rationale for the ongoing, indiscriminate horrific violence against the people of Gaza,” Restler said at the event. “It is absolutely shameful.”

Restler has straddled a relationship between the Orthodox Jewish community and his support of a progressive platform. His remarks at the event stand out in contrast over previous lukewarm statements which have called for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid, but have not directly accused Israel of genocide or war crimes.

Caban, at the vigil, accused Israel of “apartheid” and “occupation” when discussing describing her vision for what she believes should happen “between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

Joseph chairs the council’s K-12 Educational Committee, as the NYC Department of Education faces a federal investigation into alleged civil rights violations in its handling of mounting complaints of antisemitic incidents at schools by students and faculty. She was seen on video posted to social media near a speaker who accused Israel of genocide. She also was one of a handful of city councilmembers, including Avilés and Jennifer Gutiérrez (D-34), who abstained from a measure introduced in April of last year aimed at establishing an “End Jew Hatred” day citywide. Then-Councilman Charles Barron, who also abstained, said that his actions weren’t because of animosity towards Jews, but rather, paradoxically, because “Jewish people” supposedly “said nothing about African people dying,” and that “leaders in the Jewish community even supported apartheid in racist South Africa…”

That measure, which passed with overwhelming support, was introduced by councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R-48). Only two councilmembers, Hanif and Sandra Nurse (D-37), voted against the bill.

“I’d love to know, when have these elected officials held a rally against the atrocities committed by Hamas?” Vernikov told Hamodia, regarding the Wednesday vigil. “Organized a vigil for the 1,200 innocent Jewish civilians murdered on 10/7? Called for Hamas to Cease Fire? Not holding my breath. Of course the concern for human life is appropriate and understandable, but lying about what is actually happening will only contribute to more antisemitism, which some of my colleagues are already on record refusing to condemn.”

While Restler had not made such comments himself, he signed a January 9 letter together with local officials from across the country, calling on President Joe Biden to take “immediate action to pursue a durable ceasefire, to secure the release of all hostages, to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to begin to create the conditions for a political agreement that can end this conflict.”

The letter accuses Israel of violating national law, “targeting, brutalization, and killing of civilians – Palestinian and Israeli – which violates international law and basic human morality.”

“We call for the protection of all civilians, the upholding of international law, and an end to collective punishment,” the letter continued.

A source deeply involved with the DOE, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Hamodia that “Jewish educators are afraid.”

“If the council’s education chair supports these outrageous claims, then we are doomed for more events like Hillcrest to happen for the coming months and years.”

At Hillcrest High School in November, a Jewish teacher had to hide for safety when a mob of anti-Israel students stormed the school searching for her.

“Our elected officials need to be accountable for the needs of all constituents, and outrageous claims of “genocide” will only incite more Jewish hatred on the streets of New York,” the source continued.

Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-44) sharply criticized those who attended the rally.

“The sickening antisemitism of the City Council’s Hamas Caucus is no surprise, nor is their hypocrisy,” Yeger told Hamodia. “These council members never once raised their voices to condemn the daily barrages of Hamas missile attacks against Israel, long before October 7th. They ignore that Hamas continues to refuse every ceasefire offer, and continues to hold more than 130 hostages. The words and acts of these council members seem to support and encourage the murder of Jews, and that should terrify every New Yorker.”

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams wrote on social media that he wants a ceasefire and the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. “New Yorkers of good conscience know that violence must cease — that we can call for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. We can, we have to, be able to do both.”

Talks between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, have hit a standstill in recent weeks, as the Islamic terror group demands a complete withdrawal of Israel from Gaza and the ability to rebuild the area and effectively remain in power after the war. Israel has agreed to a multi-phase pause of hostilities which will include the release of many Palestinian terrorism prisoners per Israeli hostage, and several months of a pause of military operations, but it will not accept a continuation of Hamas’ presence in Gaza, following the horrific October 7 massacre perpetrated by the terror group, which calls for Israel’s violent destruction in its charter.

Restler did not return Hamodia’s request for comment.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!