Progressive Democrat stands by terror-linked official railing against Brooklyn College BDS event

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Bill Thompson, a candidate for mayor, has garnered the support of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a follower of Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League (Photo via Dov Hikind’s website)

One of the leaders of the push to intimidate student organizers and the Brooklyn College administration over this evening’s boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) event at the school is a politician with links to a far-right Jewish group labeled a “terrorist” organization by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And a progressive candidate for mayor, Bill Thompson, is standing right by his side.

Dov Hikind, the Orthodox Jewish power broker who represents Borough Park in the New York State Assembly, has been railing against the BDS event and organized a January 31st press conference against the panel discussion. The conference was attended by a number of New York politicians who spewed falsehoods and smears about the boycott Israel movement. Notably, Thompson, a current mayoral candidate and former Comptroller who is considered a progressive, was happy to help Hikind out. Following the lead of Hikind’s rants, Thompson said the BDS movement expresses “hate.”

At the January 31 press event, Hikind claimed that Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, the two speakers at tonight’s event, are supporters of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. But it’s the height of irony for Hikind to be claim to be worried about terrorism. Hikind was a close follower of Meir Kahane, who founded the Jewish Defense League and the racist Kach political party in Israel. The FBI has labeled the JDL a “violent extremist Jewish organization” and a “right-wing terrorist group.”

Writing in The Nation, Max Blumenthal has more on the JDL’s violent past and Hikind’s ties to the group:

Hikind gained his earliest experience in the early 1970s in local New York politics as an acolyte of Meir Kahane, the fanatical rabbi-turned-Israeli Member of Knesset who called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and establishment of a theocratic state of “Judea” in the West Bank. “I’m proud of every single moment, let me make that very clear. Rabbi Kahane had a great influence on me,” Hikind declared in 2008. Under Kahane’s guidance, Hikind became active in the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a nationwide extremist network that attacked Arab-American and Soviet targets while rallying vigilante squads to “protect” working-class Jews living in African-American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods…

In their book on the plot to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, journalists Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman reported that Hikind had been arraigned in a federal court in 1976 for tossing a smoke bomb into the Ugandan mission after the Israeli rescue of passengers kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists on an Air France jetliner in Entebbe, Uganda. “A decade later the FBI suspected him of involvement in planning a string of six bombings against Arab targets in NY, Massachusetts and California—in which one man was killed and seven were injured—but no evidence was found against him,” Karpin and Friedman wrote. Two JDL members who fled from FBI prosecution to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank had been involved with Hikind in a campaign to undermine the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to Karpin and Friedman.

The most significant figure the JDL was suspected of killing was Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) western regional director Alex Odeh. However, the FBI was never able to apprehend the likely perpetrators. After the murder of Odeh, more assaults followed on ADC offices, including a pipe bomb attack in Boston that critically wounded a member of a police bomb squad. In an interview with Robert I. Friedman, Hikind said he supported forming a group of “intelligent professionals” to assassinate Nazis and Arab-American supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

But before you dismiss Hikind as some kind of fringe crackpot better ignored, take a look at his influence. Blumenthal notes that Hikind has “established himself as one of the most influential Jewish politicians in New York, delivering pivotal support to candidates from former Senator Alfonse D’Amato to former Governor George Pataki”:

These days, political upstarts from across the spectrum are eager for Hikind’s endorsement. In the 2011 special election held after Representative Anthony Weiner’s embarrassing resignation, Hikind helped deliver victory to Bob Turner, a Republican gentile running against David Weprin, an Orthodox Jewish Democrat. Hikind said he backed Turned in order to “send a message to President Obama” about his supposedly insufficient support for Israel. There was also the fact that Weprin supported same-sex marriage, an absolute faux pas for the ferociously anti-gay Hikind, who has compared homosexuality to incest.

In a Democratic congressional primary last year, Hikind threw his weight behind Hakeem Jeffries, a youthful African-American Democrat running against Charles Barron, a veteran black nationalist community organizer and unapologetic supporter of Palestinian rights. At a press conference convened in support of Jeffries, Hikind joinedtop local Democrats, including Representative Jerry Nadler and the late Mayor Ed Koch, in denouncing Barron as “hateful,” a “scary monster” and an “anti-Semite”—the same language directed against organizers of the Brooklyn College BDS forum. “I really feel that Hakeem Jeffries is a superstar,” Hikind gushed. Weeks later, Jeffries cruised to an easy victory over Barron.

So Thompson, a candidate for mayor, is clearly looking to secure votes from New York’s politically influential Orthodox Jewish community. And to do that, he is standing by Hikind. In fact, they have a longer history together. In 2009, Hikind endorsed Thompson’s mayoral run, and said that he has known him for “more than 30 years.” Hikind also decried “politics of fear” and “divisiveness.” You can watch the endorsement here:

Thompson is a man who claims to be against racism. He has come out strongly against the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” practices that have targeted communities of color in the city. “We have to end stop-and-frisk in New York City as we know it. It is wrong what is occurring right now,” Thompson said last year.

But Thompson clearly operates on a double standard: he remains silent about the NYPD’s blanket surveillance of Muslim communities. And he’s thrown his lot in with Dov Hikind, an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab bigot who wants the NYPD to profile Muslims in the subway system and was part of the smear campaign that took down Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of the city’s first dual-language Arabic public school. Additionally, in 2006, Hikind supported a group of Jewish teenagers who beat up a young Pakistani man in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

Thompson’s hypocrisy is now out in the open, and it’s clear his statements against the BDS movement are about pandering for votes. So the next time you hear Thompson rail against “stop and frisk,” remember that he has no qualms about virulent racism directed against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. When it comes to Hikind’s racism, Thompson turns a blind eye.

If you want to give Thompson a piece of your mind, contact his mayoral campaign office at (212) 372-7565 or [email protected].

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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14 Responses

  1. lysias
    February 7, 2013, 1:56 pm

    I wonder if the BDS movement may be one of the objects of this scary new program from out of the White House: White House Blog: Working to Counter Online Radicalization to Violence in the United States.

  2. Les
    February 7, 2013, 2:05 pm

    racist Hikind works well with Dershowitz

    December 23, 2012

    New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind Says he has been in contact with Israel’s “Attorney General” in an attempt to block the High Court of Justice ordered extradition of Yitzchak Shuchat, who is wanted for allegedly beating a Black honors student in Crown Heights three years ago, and who is charged with a hate crime. Shuchat fled to Israel and was indicted in absentia.

    But Hikind, whose district is heavily haredi and who is himself Orthodox, says more than just that.

    On his radio show last night he said that he met week with defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who Hikind says is working on blocking Shuchat’s extradition, and with Chabad’s offical prison missionary arm, the Florida-based Alef Institute, which is trying to do the same thing.

    That means a sitting New York State Assemblyman who has sworn to uphold the laws of the State of New York, an officer of the court who has similarly sworn, and a Chabad organization given special entree to prisons in part on the condition of upholding US laws, are all involved in trying to get a foreign country to not extradite a wanted man to the US to stand trial.

  3. Cliff
    February 7, 2013, 2:19 pm

    Jewish terrorism gets a pass in American politics.

    • Reds
      February 7, 2013, 11:52 pm

      Not just terrorism but racism as well. Even when it’s openly plain to see. If a reporter or journalist happens to slip an apology is on the way and an promise to included an more extreme guest on the show the next time for balance or to make the famed comment “both sides do it”

  4. ritzl
    February 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Great article, Alex. Love it that you all are adding phone numbers and other direct action tools to these descriptive and useful main articles. It helps people like me that can’t really dig too deeply to find them, or at least have trouble aligning, focusing, and targeting my isolated personal efforts to help compound those of others of like mind. Doubly important since there currently seems to be an expanding opportunity to expose the extensive underlying hypocrisy of these folks and really make a difference.


  5. yourstruly
    February 7, 2013, 2:44 pm

    a member of a known terrorist organization calling a nyc mayoral candidate a scary monster?

    the pot calling the kettle black?

  6. irmep
    February 7, 2013, 2:48 pm

    “Terror-linked Official.” Interesting.

    Been looking for moniker “Nuclear weapons technology smuggling linked” PM Netanyahu…

    “Missile Secrets Trafficking” former AIPAC Director Morris Amitay…

    “Stolen Trade Secrets Receiving” former AIPAC lobbyist Doug Bloomfield…

    But they just don’t seem to stick! Will spare the links.

  7. Chu
    February 7, 2013, 3:19 pm

    from Blumenthol’s article: ‘ Hikind operated a front group with the JDL bomb specialist Victor Vancier (now Chaim Ben Pesach, an online radio demagogue known for wild harangues against blacks, Arabs and leftist Jews). ‘

    This alliance of HIKUND to VANCIER is ten times worse than Obama to Pastor Jeramiah Wright. Here’s the video of Vancier below if you can stomach it. It sounds like Jackie Mason in a KKK organization. This should be spread around the web to let others know what type of company Dov Hikund keeps.

    And the irony shouldn’t be lost that Bill Thompson is standing right next to him.

    Victor Vancier (a.k.a. Chaim Ben Pesach):

  8. Avi_G.
    February 7, 2013, 4:31 pm

    I find it quite strange that the FBI was never able to charge Hikind especially after he publicly made this statement:

    Hikind said he supported forming a group of “intelligent professionals” to assassinate Nazis and Arab-American supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

    But perhaps the FBI wasn’t interested in “finding evidence” to prosecute the perpetrators:

    The most significant figure the JDL was suspected of killing was Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) western regional director Alex Odeh. However, the FBI was never able to apprehend the likely perpetrators.

    So it’s no wonder Hikind managed to become a member of the New York State Assembly.

    • Hostage
      February 7, 2013, 11:50 pm

      Judith Butler’s Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS posted at The Nation.

      Ah for the good old days when the Courts in our land held that speech can only be banned if it “would produce, or is intended to produce, a clear and imminent danger of some substantive evil which the State constitutionally may seek to prevent.”

      What substantive evil does Butler produce or intend to produce with her speeches except non-violence and justice for all?

      What does one do with one’s words but reach for a place beyond war, ask for a new constellation of political life in which the relations of colonial subjugation are brought to a halt. My wager, my hope, is that everyone’s chance to live with greater freedom from fear and aggression will be increased as those conditions of justice, freedom, and equality are realized. We can or, rather, must start with how we speak, and how we listen, with the right to education, and to dwell critically, fractiously, and freely in political discourse together. Perhaps the word “justice” will assume new meanings as we speak it, such that we can venture that what will be just for the Jews will also be just for the Palestinians, and for all the other people living there, since justice, when just, fails to discriminate, and we savor that failure.

      Compare that with the philosophy of Kahane and Hikind which embaces the use of terror and wars of aggression against others – all of which are the sort of evils that a State may constitutionally seek to prevent.

      • piotr
        February 8, 2013, 11:10 am

        Actually, more intellectually inclined right wingers rail again Kant quite a bit. They really dislike the notion of ethics applicable to ALL people.

    • piotr
      February 8, 2013, 11:18 am

      I tried the link that I got hit with a petition to remove Michelle Bachmann from the Intelligence Committee! Typical elitist prejudice, that somehow the fact that Bachman has very low intelligence disqualifies her. It is also ignorant, as it postulates a connection between intelligence and Intelligence.

      Also, if morons were barred from positions of responsibility, many important legislative bodies would be prevented from having quorum (NYC Council comes to mind).

  9. gingershot
    February 8, 2013, 7:23 am

    “One of the leaders of the push to intimidate student organizers and the Brooklyn College administration over this evening’s boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) event at the school is a politician”

    This event is really a dog whistle for that part of the Zionist mind where Kahane-ism comes from. They just can’t resist this. I love it

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