On March 23rd a New York City Councilman, Kalman Yeger, representing District 44 in Brooklyn tweeted:
Palestine does not exist. There, I said it again.
The aftermath of the tweet resulted in rebukes and calls for an apology from Mayor Bill DiBlasio, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Attorney General Letitia James and other elected officials. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson removed Yeger from NYC’s Immigration Council, and there has been strong public reaction on Twitter, social media, and by news outlets here in New York and around the country.
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 18 years and while this is unique for an elected official to air out his views, believe me, his views are nothing new — to many hard-line Jewish-Americans and some dual Israeli-American citizens they really hate Arabs and don’t believe Palestine/Palestinians exist. Notice Yeger’s language “there, I said it again”. What is remarkable is that an elected official is comfortable using his minuscule platform and limited power to alienate a group of people thinking that it would have no repercussions. (The rest of his tweet about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar will have to wait for another day, another…
(Originally Written in 2009, Read/Performed in 2011. Updated now…wait now! Now!)
The sun is ascending. The brown, rocky hues of the desert in the south of Jordan swirl by on the right side of highway 65, to the left the blue-green-brown wash of the Dead Sea.
It is 2009 and I’m concluding an 8-day writing residency, which began in Amman and then brought me to the desert in the south of Jordan. …