+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Jewish Iran deal supporters booted from New York town hall meeting

When a group of New York activists stood silently in support of the Iran deal at a meeting in Brooklyn, they were accused of being ‘Arabs’ and wishing to send Jews off to the ‘gas chambers.’

By +972 Magazine Staff

Four Jewish activists were booed and shown the door when they expressed their support for the Iran deal at a town hall style meeting with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

Sitting in the back section of the Flatbush Jewish Center, the group stood up during the question-and-answer portion of the meeting and silently hoisted signs, reading, “Another Jew who says no war with Iran.”

The mostly conservative audience responded with accusations such as, “You’re going to send all of us to the gas chambers!” Another called them “Arabs” and asked them where they were keeping their PLO flags.

“There’s something a little bit sad that in a room full of Jews like that, I would feel so unsafe,” said Simone Zimmerman, one of the activists, who belongs to the anti-occupation group If Not Now. She arrived to the town hall meeting after hearing that the liberal pro-deal organizations J-Street and MoveOn were encouraging their members to take advantage of opportunities to discuss the deal with congressional representatives.

One audience member approached the group and tore up one of the posters, causing others in the audience to clap. Security then requested that the group leave, and when a reporter and the congressman’s staff approached the group, the synagogue’s president asked that they not give any interviews.

“I’m scared of what might happen if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon–just like the folks who tore our posters and shouted ‘shame!’ at us,” said, Andrew Gordon-Kirsch, one of the activists. “But I can’t let my fears alone move us to war. I believe we’re safer when working diplomatically, certainly more so than working militarily.”

The event, attended by hundreds in the community, was hosted by AIPAC, Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, and a number of other conservative-leaning Jewish organizations.

It was publicized as a “special briefing” which would welcome questions or comments from the congressman’s constituency. But the activists said that the tone of the speakers was “condescending,” meant to obfuscate rather than clarify the aspects of the deal, and to leave the audience feeling helpless rather than enlightened.

Activists held up signs in support of Iran deal at a Brooklyn town hall meeting with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. August 11, 2015. (Twitter)

Activists held up signs in support of Iran deal at a Brooklyn town hall meeting with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. August 11, 2015. (Twitter)

Speakers included Jim Walsh, an expert in international security at MIT’s Security Studies program, and Omri Ceren, a senior advisor with the Israel project, who spoke about the ways in which the deal is unworkable in theory or in practice.

The activists recalled that while Jeffries seemed to be leaning to vote against the deal, he also mentioned a number of times that he was wavering in his decision, to which “tons of people in the audience interrupted him and shouted out at him–very hawkish people yelling out that they wanted to hear him be more hardline.”

Jeffries attended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial address to a joint session of Congress in March, while his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the speech. He has not announced how he will decide on the Iran deal when it will be put up for a vote in September.

Only four members of the Democratic New York congressional delegation have said they will vote against the Iran deal.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Proud Miza Jew

      Referring to Jews as ‘Arabs’ as a method of insult or worse and forgetting who the Mizarahi are.

      Classy and VERY telling move.

      I am PROUD to be an Arab Jew! Screw YOU!

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        This is what the Fascist do when they are desperate… Stifle free and open debate

        Thanks to these courageous Jews for calling out the warmongers who pledge their allegiance to Israel above the U.S.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Sam

      …because everyone knows that “Arabs” have never been rivals or enemies of Iran.

      :::facepalm:::

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jack

      Yet you see pro-Israelis nag about why Israel is called a racist and apartheid state. These people are humiliated and forced to leave in a public hearing just because they support the deal as an effective means to solve the issue, not in a 3rd world country but in USA. I wonder how similar people in Israel are treated, in the so called “only democracy in the middle-east”.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      Remember, as Dahlia Scheindlin recently pointed out:

      “Netanyahu’s speech in Congress this spring was trickery; not because it played into his political campaign but because he shrewdly left out talk about the military option. I mean, did he think nobody would notice? Obama said: ‘Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option — another war in the Middle East… Does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be demanding that whoever is President bomb those nuclear facilities?'”

      So, I wonder how many of these people hysterically screaming “You’re going to send all of us to the gas chambers!” and calling these activists “Arabs” have children who would be sent to fight and die in a war with Iran? I can guarantee you if the USA had a universal draft, a true people’s army, and the people in this audience all had their own sons and daughters directly at risk in the fight, that awareness would have a hugely sobering effect on their cheap jingoistic hysteria and fewer of them would be itching so for war. They would sober up. Chickenhawks are the most contemptible species. The USA needs a universal draft strictly enforced. There is no other way to truly sober up the war mongers who talk tough but always seem to have someone else’s kids in the fight. George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s daughters never saw a day in uniform. (Neither did Cheney himself.) But he was real ready to send other people’s kids to fight. We know how that turned out.

      Reply to Comment
      • Wedding Singer

        Ben,
        Do you think about your postings ever? The U.S. is sufficiently militarized and does not need a universal draft.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          You would say that wouldn’t you? If I didn’t give much of a sh*t about American boys dying and being maimed again in unnecessary wars I might say the same thing. Do you ever think?

          Reply to Comment
          • Wedding Singer

            You managed to trip yourself up with your own false choice dilemma.

            Regardless, the U.S. has sufficient troops with volunteer and professional soldiers. No need to expand the military. And no need for you to tell others choices they should be making. People know the pros and cons when they elect to join the military.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Which misses the point entirely. The leadership class, the ones who decide to go to war, have to have their own children at risk. There is no other way to ensure integrity. Listen to your logic and your attitude. It runs something like this: “Anyone who signs up knows what they’re getting into or they ought to anyway and so once the saps sign up we can shove them off to any nice little war we feel like because they knew when the signed up that war was a possibility. So no need to take utmost care to make sure we send them into battle only when it is truly necessary. They signed a contract.” That contract has *assumed* the leaders would take that utmost care but history has shown that that assumption has been betrayed. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney betrayed it. I guarantee you had Bush and Cheney had their daughters at risk in the front lines going into Iraq they would have thought far more seriously and soberly about just what exactly it was they were doing and was it really necessary and they would have been far less overconfident and arrogant. The opposite occurred and for that they’ve earned many Americans’ lasting contempt. Dick Cheney took great care to get himself no fewer than five draft deferments during the Vietnam war. Five. He always had something better to do. He had other “priorities.” But sending other men’s sons into war to “get Saddam,” and go after fictitious weapons of mass destruction, now that was a priority for Dick! George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are contemptible men. I don’t care if you don’t get that but I do care and am very glad that the current occupants of the Oval Office are a very different caliber of men. Netanyahu doesn’t like it. Good.

            Reply to Comment