Brooklyn pols blast Midwood councilman who denied existence of Palestine

He’s in hot water!

A Midwood legislator received widespread political condemnation after he denied the existence of Palestine and called a Minnesota congresswoman an anti-Semite on social media Wednesday.

“Palestine does not exist. There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman [Ilhan] Omar is an anti-Semite. Said that too. Thanks for following me,” Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Midwood) said in a March 27 tweet, doubling down in response to a one-year-old story on Bklyner.com by Muslim journalist Zainab Iqbal, which quoted him as saying the Middle Eastern country didn’t exist, calling its inhabitants “so-called Palestinians.”

The southern Brooklyn pol must apologize for his statements, which hurt the many Palestinian Americans in the five boroughs, according to the city’s newly-elected public advocate and a former Flatbush councilman.

“Councilman Yeger’s comments are very hurtful to individuals and the cause of a two state solution and peace. I urge him to immediately apologize,” said Jumaane Williams. “To discount and dismiss an entire group of people is completely destructive and not something an elected official in the world’s most diverse city should spout.”

One fellow councilman, who represents a large Muslim-American population in the borough, asked that Yeger not tell his constituents that their country doesn’t exist.

“I love you, brother, but this isn’t helpful,” Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) said on Twitter in response to Yeger’s tweet. “As u know, I proudly represent one of the largest Palestinian communities in the country. And I support their aspiration for self-determination, in an independent state. Please don’t tell my constituents their homeland doesn’t exist.”

Brannan’s Council colleague Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island) echoed his sentiments, saying that Yeger’s comments were inappropriate of a public representative.

“NYC is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians. No elected official should be denying their identity and existence,” said Treyger. “This is hateful and divisive.”

The other two city-wide office holders joined Williams in condemnation of Yeger’s words.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer took to Twitter and demanded Yeger apologize for his statements.

“I condemn this irresponsible and divisive rhetoric unequivocally. We will only achieve peace if we acknowledge each other’s inherent dignity.” Stringer tweeted. “Council Member @KalmanYeger should apologize now,”

Mayor Bill de Blasio shied away from demanding an apology, but said that Palestinians and Israeli’s needed to work toward a two-state solution to build a more peaceful region.

“A two-state solution is the best hope for peace. I challenge anyone who thinks the State of Israel shouldn’t exist. But the same goes for anyone who would deny Palestinians a home,” Hizzoner said on Twitter.

Borough President Eric Adams said that Yeger’s tweets were damaging in a time of increasing Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks.

“It is more important than ever to recognize and see one other as equal; tweets that do the opposite pose a danger in this highly charged climate where both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise,” Adams said. “There is just one race: the human race.”

Yeger appeared to walk his comments back later in the day, when he tweeted that he referred to the existence of Palestine, not the Palestinian people and that people where misinterpreting his statement.

“I never said anything about the people. I’m simply referring to the geographic reality that there is not presently a place with that name. Folks read what they want to,” he said.

He has a track record of drawing attention to himself by tweeting controversial comments on Israel-Palestine relations, such as a 2018 post accusing “so-called” Palestinians of trying to destroy Israel, which he published in response to a Newsweek article about a Palestinian lawmaker who hoped to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and work toward a multi-ethnic one-state solution for the embattled region.

“More evidence that the ultimate goal of the so-called ‘Palestinians’ is the destruction of the Jewish state and its people,” Yeger tweeted. “And THAT’S why there will never be peace.”

Yeger did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

He’s in hot water!

A Midwood legislator received widespread political condemnation after he denied the existence of Palestine and called a Minnesota congresswoman an anti-Semite on social media Wednesday.

“Palestine does not exist. There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman [Ilhan] Omar is an anti-Semite. Said that too. Thanks for following me,” Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Midwood) said in a March 27 tweet, doubling down in response to a one-year-old story on Bklyner.com by Muslim journalist Zainab Iqbal, which quoted him as saying the Middle Eastern country didn’t exist, calling its inhabitants “so-called Palestinians.”

The southern Brooklyn pol must apologize for his statements, which hurt the many Palestinian Americans in the five boroughs, according to the city’s newly-elected public advocate and a former Flatbush councilman.

“Councilman Yeger’s comments are very hurtful to individuals and the cause of a two state solution and peace. I urge him to immediately apologize,” said Jumaane Williams. “To discount and dismiss an entire group of people is completely destructive and not something an elected official in the world’s most diverse city should spout.”

One fellow councilman, who represents a large Muslim-American population in the borough, asked that Yeger not tell his constituents that their country doesn’t exist.

“I love you, brother, but this isn’t helpful,” Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) said on Twitter in response to Yeger’s tweet. “As u know, I proudly represent one of the largest Palestinian communities in the country. And I support their aspiration for self-determination, in an independent state. Please don’t tell my constituents their homeland doesn’t exist.”

Brannan’s Council colleague Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island) echoed his sentiments, saying that Yeger’s comments were inappropriate of a public representative.

“NYC is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians. No elected official should be denying their identity and existence,” said Treyger. “This is hateful and divisive.”

The other two city-wide office holders joined Williams in condemnation of Yeger’s words.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer took to Twitter and demanded Yeger apologize for his statements.

“I condemn this irresponsible and divisive rhetoric unequivocally. We will only achieve peace if we acknowledge each other’s inherent dignity.” Stringer tweeted. “Council Member @KalmanYeger should apologize now,”

Mayor Bill de Blasio shied away from demanding an apology, but said that Palestinians and Israeli’s needed to work toward a two-state solution to build a more peaceful region.

“A two-state solution is the best hope for peace. I challenge anyone who thinks the State of Israel shouldn’t exist. But the same goes for anyone who would deny Palestinians a home,” Hizzoner said on Twitter.

Borough President Eric Adams said that Yeger’s tweets were damaging in a time of increasing Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks.

“It is more important than ever to recognize and see one other as equal; tweets that do the opposite pose a danger in this highly charged climate where both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise,” Adams said. “There is just one race: the human race.”

Yeger appeared to walk his comments back later in the day, when he tweeted that he referred to the existence of Palestine, not the Palestinian people and that people where misinterpreting his statement.

“I never said anything about the people. I’m simply referring to the geographic reality that there is not presently a place with that name. Folks read what they want to,” he said.

He has a track record of drawing attention to himself by tweeting controversial comments on Israel-Palestine relations, such as a 2018 post accusing “so-called” Palestinians of trying to destroy Israel, which he published in response to a Newsweek article about a Palestinian lawmaker who hoped to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and work toward a multi-ethnic one-state solution for the embattled region.

“More evidence that the ultimate goal of the so-called ‘Palestinians’ is the destruction of the Jewish state and its people,” Yeger tweeted. “And THAT’S why there will never be peace.”

Yeger did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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