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Pro-Palestinian Event That Was Planned to Take Place at Astoria Church Canceled

Redeemer Episcopal Church (Google Maps)

May 14, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

A pro-Palestinian event titled “Palestinian Expulsion and Resistance: The Nakba, BDS and the Great Return March,” was scheduled to take place in Astoria Tuesday night but was canceled due to objections by the Jewish community.

The event, which was to be a panel discussion taking place at Redeemer Episcopal Church at 30-18 Crescent St, was going to focus on the plight of Palestinians and include the well-known BDS leaders Raja Abdulhaq, the executive director of Majlis Ash-Shura Islamic Leadership Council of New York, and Nerdeen Kiswani, founder and chair of Within our Lifetime United for Palestine.

The Democratic Socialists of America were the event organizers, which was going to include a prayer session, food from a Palestinian restaurant, and a discussion on how DSA members “can become involved in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.”

The speakers planned to “discuss their activist work in the Palestinian community,” according to the event announcement. The discussion was timed to coincide with the commemoration of Nakba, when the Palestinians say they were expelled from their ancestral home when Israel was founded in 1948.

But the church faced strong criticism for renting out its space for the event, despite distancing itself from the actual discussion. Jewish groups said that the panelists were known for legitimizing terrorist acts and supporting the armed resistance against Israel.

Members of the board of the Redeemer Episcopal Church said they began receiving threats via email and on the phone accusing them of being anti-Semitic for allowing the event to take place in their venue.

As a result of the controversy, the board decided to cancel the event.

“The Church was receiving threats and online groups were writing untrue things about the nature of the event that caused concern and fear that led to the cancelation of the event,” said Caleb DeJong, a DSA member.

A protest rally had been planned by Jewish groups in opposition to the event. However, tonight rally organizers said they would celebrate instead.

Many planned to show up at the church Tuesday night to thank it for canceling the event, according to a rally organizer and local Astoria high school teacher Zelig Krymko.

Krymko said he also wanted to thank those people who spoke out in opposition to it. He said the event essentially provided “a platform to those who praise the murder of Jews in the Holy Land” and “Jihad supporters.”

He referred to the event as a “BDS anti-Israel hate fest.”

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33 Comments

Justine Marie Vickers

Being anti-Zionist is NOT equivalent to being anti-Semitic. What happened in The Holocaust during WWII does NOT justify the way in which the modern state of Israel came into existence, NOR does it justify continued acts of terrorism against the Palestinians by Israel.

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BB

The purpose of the BDS movement is to destroy Israel root and stem. This is simply the most basic form of anti-Semitism, as I can think of nothing more anti-Semitic than trying to destroy the only Jewish state that exists.

BDS activists not only excuse terrorists, but often times openly support them. They put zero responsibility on Palestinians for committing violence both past and present, and put the entire blame squarely on the Jews… a truly novel approach.

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Rachelle Halpern

The comments reveal why this kind of presentation should never have been scheduled by the church in the first place. The conflict between Arabs and Jews in the area which is now Israel, Gaza and the territories is well over a hundred up years old, has had many phases and is six thousand miles away. Few people, if any, in the intended audience know anything about the history of the conflict. Thus they are exquisitely susceptible to believing whatever they are told. The leadership of the Palestinian people has consistently refused to resolve all issues with the Israelis, which is the only way to resolve it. Instead, they have initiated a massive campaign to convince the rest of the world that their narrative is true. Since nobody checks the veracity of their claims, they have propagated claims of apartheid, genocide, oppression , colonialism, organ harvesting, and an unspeakable number of other lies. The greatest of them is a lie of Israel as an evil state and it needs to be destroyed. This campaign has for years been supported by billions, yes, billions of dollars from oil rich Arab states. The church presentation was not an informational one, it was designed to be a brainwashing of people who want to think of themselves as caring but don’t care enough to read true facts about history and current status of the situation. These presenters and others like them prey upon the good will and the ignorance of Americans. No institution, especially not a church, should lend their forum for such activities.

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Anonymous

Moderator on this page believes in censorship as well. That church allows 12 step self help groups to meet every day-many of the attendees are convicted felons, sex offenders, court mandated criminals, and sex addicts. They are more dangerous to the community

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Lauren Rose

The church made a correct decision in canceling an event run by individuals associated with hate and terrorist groups. The event was intended to promote lies and falsehoods about the situation in Israel. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. The nasty hate-filled tweet by the Socialist Democrats using an age-old pejorative term says it all. The leaders of the church realized that they were making the right decision after emails, discussions and phone calls. Not threats as misstated in this irresponsible coverage.

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Remember 9/11

Good for this church. Religion should promote peace and dialogue, churches should people together. This “democratic socialist” group was promoting people who think terrorism against Israelis is ok. They did not invite Israelis to also tell their side. Bigotry should have no place in our community. Shame on those “socialists” for trying to use the church to promote their war against Jewish people.

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Sam

So some people think it’s okay to use death threats to shut down a peaceful meeting hosted by a church, and are bleating about terrorism as they do so. Huh.

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Irene

This is typical of the way the Zionist right shuts down the right of groups opposed to it by fear, controversy mongering and other bullly tactics. This was a small local gathering. A similar shut down of media occurred this week when a documentary detailing one of the deadliest days of Gaza viloence last May by the IDF that was supposed to air in Frontline as it was produced in conjunction with the BBC was pulled off the air. It is available to be seen in the UK but any mention of it in the US is obliterated. The human rights abuses and the blatant control of media whenever something appears anti – Israeli should be a wake up call for the American public who is with taxes to the tune of 10milluin per day funding this totalitarian so called “democracy”. However the Zionist media machine tries to manipulate the truth to fit it’s own agenda the truth will always be heard and seen. The world is slowly waking up. If anyone wants to verify the truth then go and visit Israel yourself.

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Mona Sulzman

Shouldn’t people who make serious threats be scrutinized by law enforcement and arrested, rather than be allowed to impose a ban on free speech?
Free Palestine:
justice, equality, self-determination!

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Teresa

The Palestinian groups have my full support. If Israel had nothing to hide there would be zero reason to protest the event. It actually works to the Palestinians benefit because all that they are revealing is true!!

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Alanna Blair

Zionists are making it very obvious that they want to wipe out Palestine from the earth – and they don’t want anyone to know, much less object. This is one of many reasons why BDS is necessary. I hope the DSA will reschedule.

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Sarah

There were no death threats made. Again, this is another made up lie very consistent with antiIsrael, anti American terrorist associated hate groups who seek to brainwash the American public. 600 missles into Israel surrounded by 50+ arab nations using the palestinian people as bait. We don’t want Shariah law to replace our American Constitution. Israel respects all religions while her arab neighbors do not.

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Holly

If they want to congregate, they should to it in a neutral space, not in a church. It puts the church in between.

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Ruth

Palestinians lived experience is an important story to know and listen to if you believe in freedom and a world free of hate.

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Jon

Israel doesn’t give Palestine independence and doesn’t let them be citizens of Israel. You can’t have it both ways.

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Just a question?

When Americans engaged in BDS against the South African government during apartheid, was that an anti-Dutch hate fest?

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Melissa Landa

Dutch? I think you mean Afrikaner. And no, unlike the increased violence against Jews that we are seeing now, objections to the apartheid regime were focused on policies not people. White South Africans were not being assaulted. Having said all of that, I lived in apartheid South Africa and I have lived in Israel and they are not the same animal. The apartheid analogy is complete nonsense made up by the BDS campaign to stir up anger and support.

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think...(hmmmm?)

The point that was being made is why when people protest Israeli govt policy it is framed as “hate” and when they protest South African policy it is not framed as “hate”….both movements are in disagreement with govt policies and used boycotting techniques to push back….that makes them identical…so they are either both “hate” or neither are “hate”…… because “identical” 🙂

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Sam

By “Jewish Groups” don’t you mean the JDL and other FAR RIGHT Zionist groups? I’m a Jew and I am pro Palestinian rights. DO NOT ERASE ME. Israel does not equal Judaism.

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Patrick Leary

Its the Zionists that are also part of the problem. Palestine is the present day concentration camp.

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Zelig

I agree brother. Israel does not equal Judaism. But six and a half million Jews live in Israel and the speakers that were initially invited are on record praising the murder of innocent Jews in the Holy Land. Google the names of the speakers and see for yourself. The church board of directors decided against giving a platform to the pro-Hamas Palesti-nazi speakers in their Church once they signed out who they really were.

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Robin

Palestinians living in Israel have rights; those living under Hamas have none, since Hamas privileges the elimination of Israel over rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. Check out Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid on Facebook.

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Carrington

Thank you for covering this story. We were disappointed not to be able to host this educational event in the face of threats from people who don’t want Palestine’s side of the story to be known.

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Melissa Landa

The speakers at this event are known supporters of violence against Israeli civilians. There are many other speakers who can share the Palestinian story without advocating for terrorism.

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Ahmed Shraim

I wonder how do you feel about Israeli violence towards Palestinians?!! You keep accusing of people supporting violence against Israeli civilians but NOT once you mentioned the thousands of Palestinian civilians murdered on hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers???? All your comments on this article are clear indication that you are promoting a certain narrative and NOT in way shape or form telling the truth. I challenge you to list numbers of civilians killed by both sides within the past 10 years alone. I challenge to include the crimes committed by the zionist gangs in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s…Before there was ever Hamas, there were the Irgun, the Stern and the Haganah just to name a few of your murderer Jewish zionists killing unarmed villagers all over Palestine…I dare to mention those but instead you just keep coming back with some allegations without any real figures…I will be waiting your response however I doubt you will come back and any real info.

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Zelig

It’s important to have all the facts and to hear both sides. but there’s a difference between hearing both sides and hosting speakers who openly celebrate and praise the murder of innocent Jews in the Holy Land. The church has Bibles which state that God is against murder and also that state that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people as an internal inheritance. the true story from one of the board of directors members is that the board of directors threatened to resign if the event was held once they found out who the speakers really were. There is Free speech in this country but hate speech promoting the murder of Israeli Jews for the sake of some Arab nationalist movement is something that the board of directors did not want.

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Robin

For the viewpoint of the Palestinian people, check out Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid on Facebook.
Don’t confuse the people’s quest for dignity and freedom with their leadership that is unelected, corrupt and oppressive.

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Moty

It is sad that the Church allowed such a hatred meeting 8n the first place. It is good that they changed their mind in due time. Houses of G-d should never be the place to promote hatred, division, segregation.
It is about time to have this clear for Christians, Budists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and any other faith.

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