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Brooklyn pols blast Midwood councilman who denied existence of Palestine

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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.
Updated 4:24 pm, March 28, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Jake Goushan from Bay ridge says:
Yeager is right, there never was a Palestinian Arab state. In 1947 when the UN partitions the British Mandate pre Israel the Arabs and the Jews were both offered land , the Jews accepted and the Arabs rejected it. Yeager is 100% right in his statement . Denying the truth is a leftist and anti Semite method , all these history deniers do us scream and scream lies, we should never be suckered into this whitewashing history .
March 28, 11:51 pm
Abraham from Hebron says:
I’m no crazy Leftist but I have an old atlas from pre-1948 and the area had hundreds of small little towns with Arabic names, none in Hebrew. I think the Palestinians got screwed over royally all in the name of giving the Jews a homeland. The British created the whole mess we have today regardless of any ‘offer ‘ that was made and rejected.
March 29, 2:59 am
Matt from West Side says:
Call it whatever you like. Just make the Jews give back the stolen land already.
March 29, 10:57 am
Isaac from Kensignton says:
The councilman tweet is the same ideology of the Nazi but yet he is being defended for this. It is absurd to erase the history of people. This feeds white supremacy, Islamaphobes and xenophobes.
March 29, 11:14 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
AIPAC tripe as usual. They have done everything to make that country into the 51st State and it's high time that horrific damage was undone.
March 29, 12:28 pm
Tal Barzlai from Plesantville, NY says:
Prior to the independence of Israel, there was never a country known as Palestine. The name refers to a region rather than a country. From the Romans all the way to the British, it was always under some empire. What Yeger meant is that it was never a country of its own to call be it now or before Israel's independence. As for Omar, she wasn't called anti-Semitic for her criticism on AIPAC, it was for saying that Jews control everything with the money they had, which is where the claim is. If that's not anti-Semitism, then I don't know what is.
March 29, 3:04 pm
Jan from Queens says:
But Palestine doesn’t exist! A bunch of angry arabs is different than a country.
March 30, 3:22 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Here's some questions I have to ask to those who believe that Palestine did exist before Israel's independence. 1. What was their government like? 2. On what date did they have elections? 3. Where was their capital? 4. What was their currency? 5. What were their borders? 6. Can you name any political leaders that served before Yassir Arafat did in 1972 when he was named as head of the Palestinian Authority?
March 30, 2:52 pm

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