Mayor De Blasio Confronts Islamophobia Following Trip to Israel

Mayor De Blasio Confronts Islamophobia Following Trip to Israel
Photo: Kevin Case CC BY 2.0

NEW YORK – In a press conference yesterday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is hosting a conference at Brooklyn College on Islamophobia, including the impact of recent developments in Israel-Palestine on Arab and Muslim residents of New York City.

He chose Brooklyn College to host the conference because, he said, “members of that community, especially students, have suffered the consequences of Islamophobia in the recent past.” He added that, among other things, the conference would address “recent incidents of New York Police Department surveillance of students and administrative curtailment of Students for Justice in Palestine within CUNY (City University of New York).”

In October, 2015, Mayor de Blasio attended a conference on anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. This annual gathering of mayors is organized by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish groups. In his whirlwind 48-hour trip, Mayor de Blasio met with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, and later visited the Western Wall and Yad Vashem. To mollify his critics, including the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which called his trip “one-sided,” he also met with Palestinian and Jewish  children at a bilingual school near Jerusalem.

Upon returning to New York, he reassessed the trip. “I don’t want to pretend to understand the nuances of this highly-charged political situation,” he stated at the press conference, and added that he was “disturbed” by what he observed and that he could “no longer ignore the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

The mayor said he was “stunned” by the blatant discrimination against Jerusalem’s Palestinians citizens. “It was these observations and the recent surge in violence in this contested area,” he said, “that prompted the proposal for a conference on Islamophobia.” At the conclusion of the press conference he emphasized his solidarity with Arab and Muslim residents of New York City stating, “I am proud to represent you.”

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