Despite drenching rain, on Sunday morning, March 31, an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of members of the Great Neck community and beyond attended a grass-roots protest against anti-Semitism and hatred, held in the Great Neck Village Green.
The community heard from numerous dignitaries, including members of Congress, local officials, rabbis, and activists – who were introduced by master of ceremonies Dr. Alan Mazurek, MD, and other members of the protest organizing committee, including Dr. Paul Brody, Robert & Karen Spitalnick, Dr. Lynne and Nessim Tammam, Martin Sokol, Liz Berney, Ruth Goykadosh, and others.
The crowd and many of the speakers condemned the notorious trio of freshman Congresswomen who have been spouting hateful anti-Semitic canards: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Rashinda Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
When certain speakers obliquely mentioned Representatives Omar and Tlaib, without mentioning their names, the crowd yelled out: “Say the names!” When Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez were then mentioned by name, the crowd loudly booed those hatemongers.
US Representatives Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice spoke at the protest, and were praised for being willing to publicly condemn Ilhan Omar by name, for Omar’s anti-Semitic statements. Congressman Peter King sent greetings and a strong message condemning anti-Semitism, which Liz Berney read to the crowd.
Local activist Jeff Wiesenfeld gave a stirring speech demanding that Jews must be treated with the same dignity as any other group. Mr. Weisenfeld noted that if someone made statements about any other minority group that were similar to Omar’s and Tlaib’s, and other Congressional anti-Semites’ statements about Jews, then that person would not have been tolerated.
He also asked: “Why is it okay for the former President of the United States [Obama] and most of the Black Congressional Caucus, with some notable exceptions, to take secret pictures with Louis Farrakhan?”
Mr. Wiesenfeld also explained that although neo-Nazis are hateful and must be combated, the major problem comes from far-left Islamists. He stated that the leftist-radical Islamist alliance is damaging the polity, and torturing Jewish students on every college campus in the country. Moderate Muslims are telling us that it is the radicals who are running the show.
Mr. Wiesenfeld also spoke about how radical Muslims are murdering Jews and Christians, as well as other Muslims. He explained that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar came from Somalia – a country where there are no Jews and no Christians – and Muslims are killing other Muslims. But, instead of being grateful for America’s blessed shores, and instead of joining together with moderate Muslims, such as Nonie Darwish and Zuhdi Jasser, to advocate for freedom in the Muslim world, Omar has disgracefully allied herself with the hateful radical Islamists and condemned Israel.
Mr. Weisenfeld also condemned the hateful “Students for Justice in Palestine” and academic elites that are poisoning our children on college campuses.
Rabbi Yosef Bitton of the Mashadi Shaare Rachamim spoke about how he came from Argentina, a country where 85 Jews were murdered in the bombing of the Jewish Center in 1994, by radical Islamists (Hezbollah, Iran, etc.), and discussed how anti-Semitic statements breed anti-Jewish violence.
Several rabbis focused on the importance of community unity. Rabbi Yaakov Lerner of the Young Israel of Great Neck recounted how, in the Purim story, Queen Esther asked the Jewish community to come together for a day of fasting prior to her approaching the King.
Liz Berney, Esq. a local activist and Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) official, noted in her introduction of North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, that she and Ms. Bosworth ran against each other for political office eight years ago, but then came together to pass the Town of North Hempstead’s anti-BDS law two years ago, together with every Republican and every Democrat on the town council. Ms. Berney then stated: “If Republicans and Democrats can come together here to pass an anti-BDS law, then Republicans and Democrats in Congress can and should come together to pass a needed federal anti-BDS law, with real teeth – not just a resolution. If we can come together in our community here, then Congress should come together to throw vicious anti-Semites like Omar and Tlaib off of their committees.”
Activist Dr. Paul Brody stated that when composing the ad with Dr. Mazurek announcing the rally, he specifically included the following sentences from Megillas Esther (Book of Esther) 5:14,16 to be at the very top of the page: “Go assemble all the Jews...” and “For if you persist on being silent at this time...” Dr. Brody proclaimed that these words were particularly chosen to initially arouse the public to attend the rally. At the rally itself, he cited these words to the crowd, who, indeed, had gathered and assembled in unity, even in a drenching rain.
Representing millennials, Dana A. Brody, Esq., a Great Neck native, spoke of her efforts to bring in some pro-Israel speakers, while she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, after noticing that numerous anti-Israel speakers were being invited to speak on the campus. Without hesitation, she went on to co-found the Penn Law Students for Israel Club with Peter Fishkind, who was present in the rally audience. “This was my wake-up call,” Ms. Brody declared. She encouraged millennials: “It is vital for the next generation of young leaders to get involved in combating hate and anti-Semitism. Whether we are ready for it or not, we must realize that it is our obligation and our duty.”
Local official and flautist Legislator Ellen Birnbaum put things into perspective by noting how miserable it is that we have to be here to protest growing anti-Semitism, instead of being able to spend our Sundays on pursuits we love, such as playing music.
By Liz Berney, Esq.