Menchaca, Johnson Visit Mosque In Wake Of Yeger’s Dismisal


City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) went to the Beit El-Maqdia Islamic Center, 62026 6th Avenue in Bay Ridge on Friday to let the large Muslim, Arab and Palestinian community know they stand with them and that is why City Council Member Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, Midwood, Flatbush) was kicked off the council’s Immigration Committee.

Yeger, an Orthodox Jew, was recently involved in a brouhaha after a local journalist goaded him into a Twitter war, and he Tweeted out, “Palestine Doesn’t exist.” This resulted in an outcry from Palestinian-Americans, Anti-Zionist Jews, protesters, counter-protesters and his removal from the city’s Immigration Committee, which both Johnson and Menchaca’s supported.

Although slated to be an open meeting, KCP was not allowed entrance into the meeting. Both Menchaca and Johnson’s office said this was an accidental mix-up, and provided KCP with a slightly less than seven-minute audio of Johnson’s words to the center’s members.

Corey Johnson addresses congregants at the Islamic Center in Bay Ridge. Although this was slated to be a public meeting, a KCP reporter was denied entrance. Photo credit John McCarten, New York City Council.

“The Arab community here in New York City, here in Brooklyn is a beautiful important part of our city and Arab Americans, Arab immigrants and Palestinians where ever you come from whatever brought you to the United States of America and brought you to New York City I am grateful you are here,” said Johnson. “I am grateful that you are in New York City, I am grateful that your families are in New York City.”

Johnson said every community deserves peace, every community deserves self-determination, and every community deserves safety that is what every community deserves here and around the world.

“It is the most important thing that when there is rising anti-Semitism, that when there is rising Islamphobia, when there is rising acts of hate that leaders in government come forward to talk about that, to condemn that and to ensure that no one feels that it’s appropriate to behave that way,” Johnson said.

Menchaca explained that he spoke to the congregants about the City Council’s decision regarding Yeger, “One of the things that is really important of us to do as Council Members and especially for me to do as the representative of this neighborhood is to come and reassure our community that they have a voice in our city council and [with] the president of the Immigration Committee,” said Menchaca, calling himself the president of the Immigration Committee and not the chair, in a phone interview with Kings County Politics.

“What was really important to me during what happened very recently with the changes in the Immigration Committee membership was that everyone needs to feel welcomed to come before me as the president of this committee and be heard and feel safe. The Palestinian community, the Arab community, the Muslim community, the immigrant community needs to hear from us,” he added.