A rally against hate and anti-Semitism is planned at the Village Green in Great Neck Sunday morning in response to what some have seen as poor political leadership in speaking up against anti-Semitism.
The scheduled rally specifically comes in the wake of comments from U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has been under fire for remarks about Israel, including a suggestion on Twitter that pro-Israel sentiment among lawmakers was motivated by donations from AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
At a later event, she said she wanted to talk about the “political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Alan A. Mazurek, a retired neurologist and one of the grassroots organizers of the rally, said he and many others were “very disturbed by all the anti-Semitic utterances.” He was hoping that leaders would call for some type of action whether it was a rally or mass campaign or letter writing.
“We got deafening silence from our leaders,” Mazurek said. “Because there was this lack of response, I felt as a concerned Jew that when anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in America, there’s serious trouble.”
Democratic and Republican leaders have condemned these remarks, saying they evoke anti-Semitic tropes, including that of “dual loyalty.” The Anti-Defamation League pointed out that “the charge of disloyalty has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries.”
Omar, who is Muslim, apologized for her tweets and thanked her colleagues for teaching her more about “the painful history anti-Semitic tropes,” saying it was never her intention to offend anyone. But she also said she was not apologizing “for the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”
Congress ultimately passed a broad resolution condemning all kinds of hate, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and white supremacy, which Mazurek described as “watered down.”
Mazurek said he has reached out to various groups, including religious leaders throughout Great Neck, the Persian Jewish communities, the Chinese-American community and Long Island lawmakers and Great Neck mayors. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will also be in attendance, he said.
“We’re crossing all lines,” Mazurek said.
Mazurek also said this is an issue relevant for everyone, because while history shows Jewish people are often the first to be targeted, they are not usually the only ones to be hit.
“This has become an issue for the entire community, not just Jews,” Mazurek said.
The rally will also come amid an increase in hate crimes overall, FBI data released late last year suggests. Reported anti-Jewish incidents spiked by more than a third from 684 in 2016 to 938 in 2017 nationwide, according to the FBI, driving up hate crimes by 17.2 percent overall.
The Anti-Defamation League’s data also found a similar story, with 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents recorded nationwide in 2017 – a 57 percent increase from the 1,267 recorded incidents in 2016.
The rally will be on Sunday, March 31, and last from 10 a.m. to noon.