Jews Ask N.Y. Mayor Bill De Blasio To 'Learn Facts About Israel and Palestine'

700 Signatories Say AIPAC Doesn't Speak For Them

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By Michael Kaplan

Published February 20, 2014.
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A Jewish group has gathered hundreds of signatures for a petition asserting that AIPAC does not represent the interests of many American Jews, weeks after the mayor made controversial remarks that the pro-Israel lobbyist group would always have a friend at City Hall.

The petition, organized by Jews Say No! and reportedly delivered to the mayor earlier today, asserts that the lobby group’s support for Israeli policies in the Palestinian-populated West Bank is inconsistent with the mayor’s stated commitment to “the values of fairness and justice.”

According to a statement sent out by the organization, the petition has already been signed by more than 700 New Yorkers, as well as backers from around the world.

The petition calls upon the mayor to learn about Israeli policies, and to understand that AIPAC’s right-wing advocacy and what it calls “AIPAC’s support of virulent Islamophobia” are unrepresentative of large swaths of American Jews.

“More and more Jews are questioning and opposing AIPAC and Israeli government policies,” the petition reads. “Indeed, many Jewish groups in New York City, across the U.S.A., and in Israel have organized with Palestinian and other groups — through such non-violent means as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) — to forge a more just, equitable, and yes, progressive future for Israel and Palestine.”

The petition marks the latest pushback against the mayor for comments leaked by a reporter from a closed-door AIPAC gala in January, asserting his commitment to political advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state. Later that month, nearly 60 prominent Jewish public figures signed a similar open letter to the mayor denouncing his controversial statements.

De Blasio defended his remarks on MSNBC Wednesday, saying that his commitment to Israel is not only personal but also consistent with backing democratic values. “I think it’s also a matter of protecting democracy,” he said. “I think Israel’s stance as a pluralistic society deserves respect. It’s been under attack and I think it is our job to support it.”


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