Background: The NYC council is a democratically elected body of local government and is considered one of the most liberal and progressive in the country. Council members have been under pressure from BDS activists to boycott a planned trip to Israel. The council was discussing a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz when anti-Israel activists disrupted the proceedings with shouts and protest, claiming later that they “shut down the meeting”. A group called NYC2Palestine that is an umbrella organization of groups including Occupy Wall Street and Jewish Voice for Peace took responsibility for the protest. Councilman Greenfield is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and made these remarks afterwards.
Speech by Councilman Greenfield:
Thank you Madam. You know I’ve waited my turn here, I followed protocol in the NYC Council and haven’t spoken out because I respect this chamber. I have to tell you that I’m still shaken to my core, I’m upset, I’m angry. But I’ll tell you honestly I’m actually somewhat pleased at what we saw here today. If you’re wondering why I’m saying that it’s because for the last few weeks we’ve heard from people who’ve said “Oh we don’t dislike Jews, we only dislike the state of Israel. We have no problem with Jews, we simply don’t want you to go to Israel”. But we know that’s not really at the core of what they were saying and today they proved it. While we were discussing a resolution regarding the murder of 1.1 million human beings; I will point out that 90% were Jewish but the other 10% were political dissidents, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were gays. Those were the people who were being killed together in Auschwitz-Birkenau. While we were discussing that, they had the nerve, the chutzpah, the temerity to unfurl a Palestinian flag and to yell at us while we were discussing that. And so the reason I am pleased is because we can stop pretending that this is about Israel when the reality is that every Middle East country that is in existence today is not democratic and persecutes people of other faiths, and persecutes gays, and persecutes people who disagree with them, and persecutes people on twitter, and persecutes women who drive except for one country which is the State of Israel. And so what you saw here today was naked, blind anti-Semitism. That is what you saw and that’s what you watched and that’s what you witnessed. People who are upset for one reason. You want to know why they’re angry? You want to know why they are unfurling that flag today? Because Hitler did not finish the job, he only wiped out half of my family. And only by the grace of God is the other half, me, the grandchild, still alive today. That’s why those people are upset. Shame on them. Shame on them for hating Jews. Shame on them for hating people. Shame on them for disrespecting the most diverse democratically elected body in the United States of America and that is why we go to Israel. We go to Israel to make a message that is clear. That we will not be cowed by this fear and by this hatred that we have where these are people who would celebrate the death of Jews rather than mourn the death of innocents. I am embarrassed at what happened here today but I am pleased that we finally see what this is all about. Good old-fashioned anti-Semitism. Thank you.