You are reading

Queens Officials Condemn DSA Questionnaire Asking Candidates to Forgo Travel to Israel

Speaker Corey Johnson and the NYC Council March in the 2018 Celebrate Israel Parade – John McCarten (Flickr NYC Council)

Aug. 14, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Several Queens elected officials have condemned a Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) questionnaire that calls on New York City council candidates to forgo official travel to Israel.

The New York City chapter of DSA (NYC-DSA) questionnaire asks council candidates if they “pledge not to travel to Israel if elected to City Council in solidarity with Palestinians living in occupation.”

A screenshot of the question was tweeted by a NY1 reporter Thursday night, which created an uproar on the social media platform.

Several Queens politicians condemned the NYC-DSA request and called it anti-Semitic.

Members of the City Council have made trips to Israel in the past, including delegations under current Speaker Corey Johnson as well as former speakers Melissa Mark-Viverito and Christine Quinn, according to reports.

The trips were funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council, a nonprofit that connects New York City Jewish organizations.

Council Member Robert Holden, a long-time critic of the DSA, condemned the political group and said he’d happily take a trip to Israel with the City Council.

“Not surprising to see despicable content coming from @nycDSA, but the outright anti-Semitism on display here is sickening,” Holden wrote on Twitter.

Assembly Member David Weprin, who represents northeast Queens, called the NYC-DSA request “a brazen act of hate.”

“With anti-Semitism surging across the country, I am disgusted by this brazen act of hate by @nycDSA,” he tweeted.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo also called the NYC-DSA request anti-Semitic.

“No matter your political leanings, for many, a visit to Israel is a visit to their family’s homeland, a holy site of their religion or to improve important relations,” he said in a statement. “We do not ask people not to travel to China or other countries that suppress human rights.”

Several members of the Jewish Caucus of the New York City Council — including Queens Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Barry Grodenchik and Rory Lancman — also noted that Israel was “the only such country awarded this dishonor” and called the pledge “rank anti-Semitism.”

“No political organization should etch into its platform such blatant anti-Semitism as a pledge not to visit the Jewish state, and no candidate for public office should seek the support of an organization that does,” the caucus members wrote in a statement.

However, a spokesperson for the NYC-DSA said Israel is the only country that council members are regularly taken to visit.

“Members of the City Council are regularly taken on an expenses-paid trip to Israel that functions primarily as a political junket to foster ties between local officials and the Israeli state,” the spokesperson said. “It is the only country that Council Members are regularly taken on delegations to visit for this purpose.”

The spokesperson also said the DSA request of candidates to avoid travel to Israel doesn’t apply to personal trips.

“We are in no way opposed to trips in a personal capacity to visit family or for other personal reasons,” the spokesperson said.

NYC-DSA said that elected officials should represent New York’s large Palestinian community just as much as they represent other communities.

“Palestinians have lived under military occupation and siege, been displaced from their homes and denied freedom of movement for decades,” NYC-DSA said in a statement.

“Given that there has been an explicit call from Palestinians to not go on such government junkets and to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation and discrimination through boycott, divestment, and sanctions, we asked prospective candidates whether they would respect that call.”

email the author:

One Comment

Click for Comments 
Fred Rosmin

Yeah, why are members of the city council travelling to Israel after they are elected? I doubt they all have families in Israel as that would mean they’re all jewish which I doubt. Second, why is criticism of Israel immediately shut down as anti-semitic? It this state immune from criticism and if so how did it come to that?
Third, Israel is akin to an colonizer/apartheid state, the majority of its territories are Palestianian and with every ocasiom they snatch a bit more. Why are we allowing them that? Why are we supporting Israel militarily with nothing in exchange? They don’t even swear allegiance to the US, they sneak behind our backs on any ocasion. These questions are not antisemitic by the way, they’re geniune questions that are avoided as much as possible because the answers would put Israel in a really bad light. In fact I think Israel’s policies are a disgrace to the jewish plight


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Three muggers sought for punching and robbing an M train rider in Glendale: NYPD

Police from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood are looking for three muggers who assaulted an M train rider at a Glendale subway station in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 16.

The 42-year-old man was standing on the platform inside the Seneca Avenue subway station just before 3 a.m. when the three strangers approached him and allegedly punched him multiple times in his face while forcibly removing his cell phone before running out of the station onto Palmetto Street, police said. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.

Cyclist sought for endangering the welfare of a child in Richmond Hill: NYPD

Police from the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill are looking for a cyclist who rode up alongside a 9-year-old girl and tried to engage her in conversation at around 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 13.

The encounter occurred in the vicinity of Jamaica Avenue and 104th Street while the youngster was walking to school. When the man asked the girl to join him on his bike, the girl sensed danger and took off, running to her school where she alerted authorities of the incident.

Man sought for stealing a scooter near a Middle Village fast food restaurant after slugging its rider: NYPD

Police from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood are looking for a suspect who punched out a 47-year-old man, threatened to shoot him and stole his scooter in Middle Village more than a week ago.

The incident occurred near the Wendy’s restaurant at 61-11 Fresh Pond Rd. at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 11, when the stranger approached the victim and took his two-wheeled scooter. When the man tried to take his bike back, the assailant punched him and acted like he had a firearm, then fled on the scooter westbound on Eliot Avenue toward Metropolitan Avenue. The victim sustained minor injuries and refused medical attention at the crime scene.