At the New York City Council, we believe it is critical to respect and represent all communities, regardless of national origin, ethnicity, race, or religion. The Council’s Progressive Caucus, Women’s Caucus, Black, Latino, Asian Caucus, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus are honored to include Members who are Jewish, Muslim, and Christian; African-American, Latinx, white, and Asian; LGBTQ and straight. We take diversity and respect seriously.
Especially in a period when hate of all types is on-the-rise — Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-black, homophobic — it is critical for local elected officials to communicate in ways that bring communities together, rather than drive them apart. Words have great power, especially when they come from elected officials. With xenophobic policies ascendent at the federal level, it is important for local government to affirm and protect our vibrant immigrant communities.
As members of these caucuses, we denounce the recent comments from Council Member Yeger, who tweeted “Palestine does not exist” and “so-called Palestinians.” These remarks deny the very existence of Palestinians. Acts of erasure or denial of identity are a pernicious form of bias. Statements that deny the national identify of the Palestinian people are often used to deny their human rights and their struggle for self-determination. We did not tolerate Council Member Diaz’ homophobic comments. We cannot ignore these.
Despite several calls for him to apologize, Council Member Yeger has offered no regret or apology for his actions, and made no public effort to reach out to Palestinian New Yorkers to repair the damage of his words.
This is of particular problem given Council Member Yeger’s membership on the Council’s Immigration Committee. That committee is charged with making New York City a safe and welcoming place for all immigrants. Given the harmful nature of his words, and his failure to apologize for or address them, we do not believe that immigrant New Yorkers, including Palestinians and other Muslims, can count on being fully seen and listened to by the committee so long as he serves on it. We therefore support the removal of Council Member Yeger from the Immigration Committee.
The Progressive Caucus, Women’s Caucus, and the Black, Latino, Asian Caucus, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus of the New York City Council