Readers Write: Far-right extremists not representative of L.I’s Jewish community

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I was reading your May 28 article, “Israelis, Palestinians rally support on L.I.,” and was disgusted by how it normalized far-right extremists and portrayed them as representative of Long Island’s Jewish community.

Most glaring was when you quoted an attendee at the May 23 Great Neck rally, Karen Lichtbraun, and gave the group she was representing, Yad Yamin, the spartan label “New York-based organization.”

 Did you not feel it was worth mentioning that Yad Yamin is a Kahanist organization with strong ties to the FBI-designated terrorist group founded by Meir Kahane, himself, the Jewish Defense League? 

In fact, in an Oct. 10, 2018 Times of Israel article about a Columbia University protest, Lichtbraun identified herself as the New York chapter leader of the Jewish Defense League.

For those unfamiliar with the late Kahane, in a nutshell, he was a truly vile human being who believed all Arabs should be forcibly expelled from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. 

He also believed all non-Israeli Jews were living in a sort of exile, unable to truly live a safe or fulfilling life outside of Israel, and encouraged acts of violence and harassment against anyone he saw as an enemy, including members of the Jewish community who didn’t share his warped worldview.

 Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been fooled into believing there is no daylight between “Kahanist” and “Jewish.”  They think to support the Jewish community means to treat American Jews as strangers in their own country, ignore or encourage the occupation and annexation of Gaza and the West Bank and dismiss blatant atrocities committed by the Israeli military and police as “self-defense.”

 To be clear, the Great Neck organizers and attendees speak only for themselves.  They absolutely do not speak for the Jewish community at large; no one person or group does. 

In fact, your May 28 article conveniently failed to mention the Jewish marchers and speakers who attended the May 23 Garden City protest in solidarity with the Palestinian and Palestinian-American communities.

If you are a member of the Jewish community and don’t see your values or beliefs reflected in this recent spate of far-right “pro-Israel” protests, speak up. 

Let your elected representatives know that they are being taken advantage of by bad-faith actors who actively “otherize” American Jews for political gain.

It may sound trite, but silence is complicity.

Matthew Zeidman

New Hyde Park

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