NYC QAIA response to NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s statement on Israel’s Independence Day

NYC QAIA response to NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s statement on Israel’s Independence Day

***for immediate release***

Pauline Park: (718) 662-8893,
Emmaia Gelman: (917) 517-3627,
Leslie Cagan: (347) 581-1182,

19 April 2018 — New York — New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (NYC QAIA) condemn New York City Speaker Corey Johnson’s appalling statement celebrating Israel’s Independence Day.

The Speaker is the leader of the New York City Council and as such has a responsibility to represent all of the residents of this great city, including those who trace their origins to Palestine. As Speaker, he also has a responsibility to uphold the standard of human rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and embodied by the United Nations, whose General Assembly and Security Council have called on Israel to end its illegal occupation in UN Resolutions 242 and 338. Nowhere in Speaker Johnson’s statement celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) is there any recognition of the illegality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories or of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of historic Palestine that was the pre-condition for the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Instead, Johnson characterizes the state of Israel as ‘a beacon of hope and opportunity’; but it is anything but a beacon of hope and opportunity either for its Palestinian citizens, whom it subjects to institutionalized discrimination and racism, or to the Palestinians in the occupied territories, whom it subjects to a brutal apartheid regime. And Speaker Johnson’s use of the expression ‘Am Israel Chai’ is despicable, as it is coded language for the triumph of the Israeli state over the Palestinian people.

An openly gay man who claims to understand discrimination and oppression, Johnson has betrayed the Palestinian people and LGBT/queer Palestinians in particular with a statement that erases their oppression. Johnson’s statement is especially egregious given that the Israeli military has wounded more than 1,600 unarmed Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip since the Great March of Return began on March 30, killing 36 of them, three of them children and one of them a journalist (Yasser Murtaja) who was wearing a vest clearly marked ‘press’ when he was gunned down by an Israeli sniper. Palestinians began the Great March of Return to protest the policy of incremental genocide being pursued by the Israeli government in the Gaza Strip, to which it has subjected its residents through an illegal blockade that is in clear violation of international law. In light of the countless war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Israeli state, we call on Speaker Johnson to issue a statement condemning those crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine and Johnson should use his power as the second most powerful elected official in the City of New York to challenge the illegal occupation of Palestine.

NYC QAIA was founded to create a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community-based challenge to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and to support Palestinians  — both LGBT and non-LGBT — in their struggle against Israel’s brutal and illegal apartheid regime.




Statement By Speaker Corey Johnson

Re: Israel’s Independence Day    
Today I join in celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.  For 70 years the State of Israel has stood as a beacon of hope and opportunity, overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges.  I am honored to be in Israel to mark this historic occasion with my Council colleagues on a mission to learn more about Israeli culture and economic opportunities, as well as to meet with civic, government, and business leaders. As Americans we saw firsthand the shared democratic principles and values that both our countries possess. We have also seen and met many people hard at work with a genuine spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, and a desire to provide a better life for themselves and their children. Clearly, the Israeli dream is no different than the American version, nurtured in an environment like ours that encourages free-thinking, free speech and a commitment to equality. I stand here proudly as an American with a genuine love for the people of the State of Israel, wishing their country a happy 70th.  “Am Yisrael Chai!”




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