A litany of Brooklyn Assemblymembers raised their voices in opposition to anti-Israel rhetoric in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) questionnaire with an official statement yesterday, but some voices were decidedly quieter than others.
“This blatantly antisemitic litmus test is abhorrent. 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,” the statement read.
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park), chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party was missing from the list of Brooklyn leaders, whose signatures included Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Brooklyn), Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Gravesend), and Assemblymember Walter Mosley (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights).
But while Bichotte didn’t sign the letter, she did craft her own statement deploring the antisemitic rhetoric on the questionnaire.
#Progressive political candidates shouldn’t be asked 2 take an #Antisemitism pledge as a right of entry against an allied nation 2 the US. For many blacks traveling 2 #Israel 🇮🇱 is spiritual & educational. As the mother of half Jewish son (late), this question is offensive😔.
— Rodneyse Bichotte (@AMBichotte) August 14, 2020
Also signing onto the letter from Brooklyn were Assemblymembers Simcha Eichenstein (D-Brough Park, Midwood), Steve Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach), Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Dyker Heights), Jaime Williams (D-Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) and Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg).
Filed under “Foreign Policy” in the DSA Questionnaire, one question asked candidates seeking their support if they will “pledge not to travel to Israel if elected to City Council in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation?” and the other to explain why they don’t support the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) of Israel if they don’t.
Not escaping the scrutiny was the untimeliness of the DSA’s questions, which the leaders deemed “offensive, antisemitic, and dangerous, particularly at a time when antisemitism is on the rise in the United States and in the New York area.”
Last year saw the highest number of recorded attacks since 1979, according to the Jewish Civil Rights group, which counted 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents of physical assaults, harassment, and vandalism. According to the NYPD, Jewish people were the victims in more than half of the 428 hate crimes in New York City last year.
A large majority of the attacks have been taking place in NYC, with many physical attacks happening in late December towards orthodox Jews in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park.
“New York is 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,” the leaders wrote.
Eichenstein, who’s districts make up a large portion of Brooklyn’s orthodox Jews, said, “the blind hate seething from the foaming mouths of the DSA is a dangerous direction for the future of the city and state.”
“Discrimination against Jews or any other ethnic group should never be tolerated nor have any place in this great state,” he told KCP.
The Assemblymembers mirrored Eichenstein with a hard final sentence, “no political organization that embeds antisemitism into its platform should be welcome in the halls of our legislature.”
Despite the condemnation, the DSA is growing in political power. The assembly will have one DSA Candidate from Brooklyn in the assembly next year and that is Phara Souffrant Forrest, who defeated Mosley in the recent primary. In the state’s upper chamber, State Sen. Julia Salazar is DSA member, and next year she will be joined by fellow DSAer Jabari Brisport.