A month has passed since the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA) posted a questionnaire calling on New York City Council candidates to forgo official travel to the State of Israel. The question posed asked candidates to stay put as a stand “in solidarity with Palestinians living in occupation.” The question claimed that foreign policy falls outside the purview of municipal government and that gestures like travel to a country by elected officials from a city the size and prominence of New York still sends a powerful message. The follow-up query asked candidates if they support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Daniel Rosenthal, who is the youngest representative of the New York State Legislature, representing the 27th District, was outraged by the DSA’s litmus test. He organized 52 other Assembly colleagues to join in a statement condemning the DSA’s actions. “Singling out the only Jewish state – a strong democracy in the region, where women’s rights, freedom of speech, and religious freedom are protected – is detestable,” read a portion of the statement.
The Queens Jewish Link took a moment to ask Rosenthal how reactions have amounted following the attention of his efforts. “It goes without saying that no political organization that embeds anti-Semitism into its platform should be welcome in the halls of our legislature,” Rosenthal said. “It was beyond disheartening to see a political organization with a core anti-Semitic structure have such tremendous power in New York City.”
According to Rosenthal, over the past month the DSA has taken steps backward. “The widespread media and social attention made New Yorkers – and Americans in general – aware that the DSA movement is laden with anti-Semitism. A unified and coordinated response of collaborators of diverse backgrounds representing the State’s many diverse communities is a demonstration of support for Israel and the Jewish people.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council, a nonprofit connecting New York City’s Jewish organizations, has funded these missions under City Council Speakers Corey Johnson, Christine Quinn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito. The DSA is no stranger to anti-Semitism and acts of hatred.
It is no secret that anti-Semitism is on the rise. The weeks prior to the pandemic were a testament to the disgust for Jews with a barrage of attacks on a near-daily basis. The State of New York is also home to the world’s second largest Jewish community. “Jewish culture and tradition are ingrained in the very fabric of the City’s diversity. The DSA’s position cannot be rationalized. It is offensive, anti-Semitic, and dangerous, particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and in the New York area,” concluded the statement
“The cohort effort amongst the members of the legislature determined to push back on an open display of anti-Semitism was extremely impactful and felt throughout all echelons of government here in New York and beyond.”