Borough Park, NY – A potentially explosive rally that had more than half a dozen groups calling on their followers to protest remarks by Councilman Kalman Yeger turned into a glorified shouting match, with the handful of demonstrators who showed up far outstripped by members of a counter-protest staged by the Jewish community.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2TCOj29), Yeger found himself subjected to a torrent of criticism after tweeting that Palestine does not exist and calling Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar an anti-Semite.
A protest originally scheduled to be held outside Yeger’s house Thursday evening was moved to his 16th Avenue office, with former Assemblyman Dov Hikind calling for the Jewish community not to let a demonstration of hatred in the heart of the Borough Park go unchallenged.
Bklyner columnist Zainab Iqbal, who called Yeger out on social media for his comments about Omar and Palestine on March 27th, sparking the city councilman’s now famous post, tweeted repeated during the rally.
“i’m at the yeger protest. a woman just asked me if arabs murdered any people today and if they burned pregnant women,” tweeted Iqbal at the start of the rally.
Shouts of “Am Yisrael” from the Jewish contingent, some of whom carried signs saying “zero tolerance for anti-Semites” while others waved Israeli flags, competed with chants of “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.” One pro-Palestinian protester carried a piece of brown cardboard bearing the words “a shanda” in Yiddish, while a few Neturei Karta members standing shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian group held signs reading “Dov Hikind Kalman Yeger Spreading Bigotry in the Name of Our Jewish Community.”
There was a heavy NYPD presence at the rally, which took began at 6 PM and lasted just over an hour. Police formed a line between the demonstrators separating them, taking the pro-Palestinian contingent out of the area in their official vans to ensure that the evening stayed peaceful.
Hikind and Yeger have had their differences in the past, but the former assemblyman said that he called for the counter-protest because the planned demonstration was an attack on the entire Jewish community.
Yeger did not return calls for comment on the rally.