Assemblyman Dov Hikind says he can’t forgive Councilman Carlos Menchaca for a second slight against Israel and won’t support the one-time ally in his 2017 reelection campaign.
Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) came under fire when he joined hundreds of protesters rallying against the Trump Administration a few weeks ago and chanted “All the walls have got to go, from Palestine to Mexico,” just six months after he lost many Jewish allies for his vote against the Council’s resolution condemning “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement,” which seeks to punish Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories.
Hikind (D–Borough Park), who called Menchaca “ignorant and pathetic,” said it would be impossible to support him anymore — even though he gave him his early support in 2013 — because his chant completely misses the point. He then demanded Menchaca educate himself on the history of Israel before speaking out against something he doesn’t understand.
Menchaca apologized last week to a roomful of Orthodox Jews at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, but that was not enough for Hikind, who says his apologies are getting old, and Menchaca should stick to his guns instead of retreating from his views time and time again.
“It’s hard to believe anything he says. He has really disappointed me in terms of his sincerity,” said Hikind. “Who he really is no one knows anymore.”
Menchaca later acknowledged the comparison he made between Israel’s wall and the proposed wall separating Mexico from America was wrong.
“I understand how such a wrong comparison between walls in Israel and on the Mexican border cause real distress. I failed to recognize the unique circumstances associated with each locale,” said Menchaca in an e-mailed statement. “I support the rights of all people to live in peace and security including Israelis and Palestinians, and our families who live on the U.S.-Mexican border.”
Menchaca may face rumored candidates Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D–Sunset Park) and attorney Delvis Valdes.
News of the split was first reported by the website Kings County Politics.
Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a pastor at Bay Ridge’s Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, announced his candidacy for term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile’s seat for Bay Ridge on Feb. 26, fulfilling a promise of Arab-American activist and Bay Ridge Linda Sarsour that “an Arab will run for that seat.” He is the first Arab-American to run for council in Brooklyn and, obviously, if he wins, he will become its first Arab-American member. He will join Gentile staffer Justin Brannan, state committeeman Kevin Peter Carroll, and Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurst) in seeking the Democratic line. Republicans seeking the seat include state Sen. Marty Golden staffer John Quaglione, supermarket manager Bob Capano, and Liam McCabe, a former rep for Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge).
El-Yateem’s says his campaign would send a message to the world about inclusivity and that the Bay Ridge community will not stand for bigotry of any kind, including Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.
“I have strong beliefs that the community will not be afraid to say we are going to send an Arab-American person to city Council to represent them,” said El-Yateem, who proudly claims he is not a politician. “This is a great time for a person like me who is from outside the establishment, to come with a fresh, new voice, a voice of harmony, unity, and peace.”
Sarsour has already endorsed El-Yateem, who was born in Palestine.
Freshman Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who serves the heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, and Midwood, may face an unlikely challenger in the primary — his cousin, Kalman Yeger, sources say.