This past Saturday, November 14, the Democratic Socialists of America, via Zoom, endorsed six candidates for New York City Council seats in a daring bid to take over New York City. The NYC-DSA is a leading political force in both New York City and New York State politics. All five candidates on their New York State legislative slate won their respective races earlier this month. Jabari Brisport in the New York State Senate, and Phara Souffrant Forrest, Marcela Mitaynes, Zohran Mamdani, and Emily Gallagher in the New York State Assembly.
A name on the Council list memorable to Queens residents is that of former public defender Tiffany Cabán, who nearly upset then-Borough President Melinda Katz in the Democratic primary in the race for Queens District Attorney in 2019.
Cabán, a self-declared socialist, in her campaign for New York City Council District 22, touted the official DSA endorsement. “We are building a movement for transformative, radical change both in District 22, and across New York City, and I am so honored to have NYC-DSA with us in this fight.”
Regarding her race against Katz, she stated, “In 2019, the NYC-DSA threw down in our Queens District Attorney race, and they threw down early. Collectively, we organized around an unapologetically decarceral vision for Queens. I have seen firsthand how NYC-DSA has redefined what we see as politically possible in New York, and with them throwing down with us again I know we can achieve our movement’s goals of ending the carceral system, creating a care economy, and bringing a Green New Deal to New York City.”
Mike Nussbaum, President of the Queens Jewish Community Council, expressed concern about the very realistic shot that Cabán has at securing a Council seat, along with other outspoken leftists. “We must spend the next month registering voters and have the biggest get-out-the-vote operation. We must ask candidates to condemn BDS and to visit Israel, if invited to do so,” he said. “The Jewish community of Queens must establish a red line of support. The candidates do not have to be Jewish, but I am asking for them to stand with our community.”
Along with Cabán, self-described supporters of the DSA platform include Council candidates Aleda Gagarin, who is running in the district covering Rego Park, Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens. Earlier this year, her husband Mel ran in a primary against Rep. Grace Meng, establishing a small but vocal base of supporters in this district. On the other side of Flushing Meadows, the district covering Kew Gardens Hills, Fresh Meadows, and Hillcrest has a crowded nonpartisan special ranked choice election on February 2. Among the candidates here is Moumita Ahmed, a former delegate for Bernie Sanders who ran earlier this year for District Leader. “I joined around the end of Bernie’s campaign because I was so frustrated with the Democratic Party, and I wanted to fully commit myself to a socialist movement,” she said in a 2017 interview. “I have a ton of friends who are registered Democrats, but they’re really socialists – they have the same values. They can help push the Democratic Party to the left.”
Nussbaum did not name the candidates he opposes, but noted that along with their views on Israel, their lack of familiarity with the Jewish community may hurt how much funding nonprofits would receive. “Rory Lancman retired from the City Council; Barry Grodenchik and Karen Koslowitz will also be retiring soon. As a collective community, we are losing our ability to make an impact,” he said.
Of the nearly 50 applications received prior to this past Saturday announcement, the other candidates who received the DSA endorsement are Adolfo Abreu of the Bronx, Jaslin Kaur in Eastern Queens, and Michael Hollingsworth, Alexa Aviles, and Brandon West in Brooklyn. West, a political campaign volunteer and city worker, has been groomed by the DSA for the Park Slope seat he now seeks. Brooklynites have seen this area flood with committed socialists striving for reform.
In the DSA platform, detailed in a questionnaire decried by Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal and more than 50 of his colleagues, these council candidates pledge to support an effort dubbed “decarceration” that hopes to defund the police, curb community policing, decriminalize prostitution, significantly reduce the number of jails, and even a total eradication of the “broken windows” doctrine. The criminological theory of broken windows asserts that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further lawbreaking and disorder, including serious crimes. The concept calls for policing approaches that target minor crimes, including vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion, to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.
For the Jewish community and its supporters, the most dramatic action of the DSA is their embracement and support of the infamous boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This stab singles out the Jewish state for economic warfare among all the many countries in the world. City Council Members often take sponsored trips to Israel, allowing those elected to see the facts up close and reach an informed judgment. Queens Borough President-elect Donovan Richards often speaks of his trip to Israel as enjoyable and eye-opening in the details it helped bring to light.
“It is painful and shocking that of all places, New York City, which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, has to contend with candidates running on an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel platform. The Jewish state is America’s trusted ally in the Middle East, a most volatile and dangerous region of the world,” said Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America – the Igud HaRabbonim. “Further, this platform is anti-peace. The current reality of the Middle East demonstrates that economic cooperation, not BDS, brings people together. The Abraham Accords herald a new era of positive transformation of the Middle East to a region in which true and lasting peace, security, and economic health will reign. The mere suggestion that City Council candidates refuse, on principle, to visit Israel for a fact-finding trip demonstrates an irrational hatred and closed-mindedness.”
It falls upon New Yorkers and those who stand by Israel to herald an allegiance with the US. The DSA candidates should be shunned for purporting a pledge to decrease law enforcement and legalize crimes thereby destroying any vestige of law and order in New York City. Rabbi Mirocznik points out, “This agenda will create a scenario in which New York City becomes hostile to its innocent residents, as violent crime and fear increase. The diverse residents of New York City are by and large hard-working, law-abiding citizens and good people.”
As residents who comprise this great, diverse, cosmopolitan mosaic of New York City, we must fight for its people, as the city cannot function if its inhabitants feel unsafe. Over the last number of months, the New York City area has been the subject of misguided policies that have resulted in an abhorrent rise in crime and an unacceptable dramatic increase in murders. By October, New York City hit the 344-murder marker, surpassing the total 2019 count. To date, the number of shootings is up nearly 100 percent from a year prior in the city. These scary figures have been a huge concern for the 300,000 New Yorkers who have moved out of the area. It falls on those who remain to proclaim support and appreciation for the New York Police Department and other forms of law enforcement. The Queens Jewish Link takes this effort seriously and has praised the local police force with showings of support since the unrest began. Queens residents have been a shining national example of how to make law enforcement feel that their efforts to ensure public safety are welcomed, and that we, the residents of New York City, pray for their success as they go out to keep our streets safe.
By Shabsie Saphirstein
and Sergey Kadinsky