The Rabbinical Alliance of the USA, a group representing Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn neighborhoods, held a press conference on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, regarding recent statements by Brooklyn councilman #KalmanYeger, who recently ignited a conflict with his comment that “Palestine does not exist”, thereby making an impression that Jews have Zionist interests.
“Over the decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a long chain of both, a violent one and a war of words,” said Rabbi Hershel Klar, an organizer of the event. “Now Councilman Yeger has unfortunately brought this war of words to our own Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, giving the impression that religious Jews, his constituents, are interested in adopting the Zionist narrative and creating friction with our neighbors. We therefore wish to make clear that the majority of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community are not Zionists at all. Jews and Zionists could not be more different. Jews are commanded to live peacefully in their countries during exile, while Zionists wish to conquer land and oppress other people. The Zionists, both leaders in the State of Israel and their supporters here in America, do not represent the Jewish people.
“Yeger deepened his offensive comments by leveling the accusation of anti-Semitism against a member of Congress, Ilhan Omer, who has been critical of the State of Israel and its supporters. The Zionist approach of accusing their critics of being anti-Semitic is wrong. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Judaism and Zionism are diametrically opposed. Judaism is a religion to be subservient to the Almighty, while Zionism is a transformation into a political nationalist movement. In fact, Judaism forbids a sovereign Jewish State since the destruction of the Jewish temple. Likewise, Judaism forbids Jews to wage wars, provoke conflict, or oppress any nation or peoples. We Jews have always lived in the utmost peace and regard alongside our neighbors in all countries of our exile. We respect our government leaders and fulfill the commandment of Jeremiah 29:7, ‘Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray for it to G-d.’ The Zionist protagonists do not speak in our name. It’s against Jewish law and tradition.
“Kalman Yeger’s comments don’t represent the Brooklyn Jewish community. Numerous leading Rabbis have condemned him. This is not what we elected him for. We need our politicians to keep our streets and parks clean and safe, and to advocate for services for our neighborhoods and schools, and not to drag our communities into the Zionist agenda. We call upon Yeger to retract his comments.”