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Open Letter from NY Jews to Mayor de Blasio: ‘AIPAC does not speak for us’

on 28 Comments

The following letter was shared with Mondoweiss:

An Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio:

We are Jewish residents of New York who read, in the leaked transcript of your private speech to a meeting of AIPAC leaders, the following:

“City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily ’cause that’s my job.”

We understand that the job of mayor of New York is a complex one that often calls for your participation on the international stage, and we would not presume to define your job for you. But we do know that the needs and concerns of many of your constituents–U.S. Jews like us among them–are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so. AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.

Sincerely yours,

Ruth J. Abram
Karen R. Adler
Arlene Alda
Anita Altman
Esther Ann-Asch
Emanuel Ax
Peter Beinart
Andrew Berger
Loren Bevans
Martin I. Bresler
Kenneth David Burrows
Howard Clyman
Rabbi Rachel Cowan
Barbara Deinhardt
Barbara Dobkin
Eugene Eisner
Laurel W. Eisner
Daniel Engelstein
Eve Ensler
Danny Goldberg
Sally Gottesman
Linda Gottlieb
Laurence Greenwald
Jane Hirschmann
Erica Jong
Peter A. Joseph
Alice Kessler-Harris
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Gil Kulick
Martha Weinman Lear
Bobbie Leigh
Jonathan Leigh
Alan H. Levine
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon
Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark
Donna Nevel
Kathleen Peratis
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Bertrand B. Pogrebin
Michael Ratner
Anne Roiphe
Betty Rollin
Al Ruben
Marlene Sanders
James Schamus
Dan Silverman
Beverly Solochek
Carla Singer
Rabbi Felicia Sol
Alisa Solomon
Gloria Steinem
Herbert Teitelbaum
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Rabbi Burton Visotzky
Peter Weiss
Jack Willis
Eugenia Zukerman


Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

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28 Responses

  1. pabelmont on January 29, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Thanks to those who organized this letter. Please make it possible for other New Yorkers to sign on as additional signatories. I’d sign in a NY minute. The universities must be full of people — faculty and students — who’d sign. Etc.

    We need to sign. And deB needs to have us sign and publicly. Anti-AIPACism is no good in the closet.

  2. seafoid on January 29, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Open letter from money in bank accounts of Jewish onepercenters in NYC

    We are the dollars of Jewish onepercent residents of New York and Miami who cannot read but we heard in the leaked transcript of your private speech to a meeting of AIPAC leaders, the following:

    “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily ’cause that’s my job.”

    Good boy. That’s the way we like it
    And if you dare change we’ll break your ass.

    • pabelmont on January 29, 2014, 4:13 pm

      seafoid: Depends on who needs whom more. But in politics it makes sense to make nice with potential (and past) donors. Are these the guys he wants Albany’s permission to tax more heavily? Bring back the commuter tax? Etc.? Gee, NYC needs money! Please — and I’ll support Israel all you want. OTOH, if they say “no”, what’s his next move? Stay tuned.

      • seafoid on January 29, 2014, 4:49 pm

        What good is “Isreal” to NYC? Honestly.

        Say it was a Djibouti cult that ran a food monopoly in Gotham and in order for people to eat the Mayah had to bend over and swear allegiance to Djibouti.

        Would that be natural ? Would it be way out in the open ?

  3. Justpassingby on January 29, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Great people! Thank you!

    Where was this open letter published at first?

  4. John Douglas on January 29, 2014, 5:42 pm

    It’s a positive development that de Blasio’s first political blunder and first political lesson is that there are limits to the extent to which one can suck-up to the Lobby. It’s only recently that limits appeared on the scene. Let’s hope that Cory Booker is given the same lesson.

    • Citizen on January 30, 2014, 5:41 pm

      Cory Booker has been played by the othrodox rabbis who surround him; I gather he’s an earnest, spiritual fellow, not simply one who calculates political gain, although he does that too–what I don’t understand about his thinking, from what he has said in public, is… why doesn’t he think Palestinians are as human as he is?

  5. Lucas on January 29, 2014, 5:52 pm

    It is very notable that there are not many more signatories to this letter. It means that mainstream Jewish Americans, even progressive and/or entitled New York Jewish Americans, believe that AIPAC speaks for them, no?

    • annie on January 29, 2014, 6:22 pm

      there’s probably a few people reluctant to place their names on something like this for other reasons. like parents, grandparents, friends relatives, employers (currentand future) employment/job opportunities, just to name a few. i wouldn’t chalk it all up to “believe that AIPAC speaks for them”. and, chances are there are other people who have just not heard of this letter..perhaps?

      • Lucas on January 29, 2014, 7:03 pm

        When it really mattered to stand up and be counted, so many opted to not do so.

      • Citizen on January 29, 2014, 8:33 pm

        I wonder too who all has heard of this letter. I do want to thank those few who did sign it, and I wish to state my admiration for them, and hope others follow suit. Does this letter appear anywhere besides MW? If so, where?

    • Dutch on January 29, 2014, 6:48 pm

      I think this is not so much about numbers. It’s everyone’s guess that there are lots of people who would sign on to this statement. It really starts with standing up. Others will follow, no doubt.

      • Citizen on January 29, 2014, 8:34 pm

        First they have to hear about this letter…

    • on January 29, 2014, 7:23 pm

      Maybe we need a letter from the millions of non Jews who live in NYC that probably do not think defending Israel is in the Mayor’s job description

  6. Baldur on January 29, 2014, 6:46 pm

    This is an excellent initiative. It’s crucial to make your voice heard in this type of matter, and speaking directly to De Blasio in this fashion is the best way to do it.

  7. Les on January 29, 2014, 8:17 pm

    An impressive list of names though none own any of the New York City area print or broadcasting outlets, everyone of which supports Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. De Blasio wasn’t speaking to Jews but rather to the Jewish owners of that media.

  8. MRW on January 29, 2014, 8:30 pm

    Good for them. I like the brevity and clarity, makes it much more powerful than the endless litany of the ‘values’ the dissent is representing. They’re basically telling de Blasio to suck face.

  9. alipep on January 29, 2014, 8:34 pm

    Let me know how to sign on and distribute this letter. You’ll have thousands of signatures in a week! I was very upset by DeBlasio’s lack of understanding on the issue and assumption that AIPAC is the partner to affiliate with. There are many progressive voices he needs to hear from now.

  10. crypticvalentin on January 29, 2014, 9:49 pm

    Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem among the signers..

  11. Scott on January 29, 2014, 10:47 pm

    Lucas, It’s not a numbers of regular people kind of letter. It’s a letter representing a certain slice of the New York artistic-literary elite. A lot of names of those who have been prominent both professionally and in various liberal causes for many years. I’m not a good person to do a who’s who guide, but one could be done. I’m very sure that smart people in the de Blasio circle will recognize this as a culturally weighty and influential crowd. And AIPAC, which I think has never been called out so directly by a lot of famous and semi-famous people. The letter is a milestone.

    • Citizen on January 30, 2014, 3:12 am

      Is that why Phil and Adam signatures are not on the letter? Did they get asked to sign it? Why keep it so NY artsy precious? Somebody contacted these particular people to sign the letter? Who was contacted that did not sign? Who? Maybe MJ Rosenberg knows?

  12. jayn0t on January 30, 2014, 12:16 am

    What’s the point of Jews saying “AIPAC does not speak for us”? Does anyone else claim that a racial supremacist organization does not speak for them? Did anyone ever say the South African apartheid government, or the KKK, does not speak for us?

  13. Nevada Ned on January 30, 2014, 2:27 am

    I recognize some people on the list.

    Emanuel Ax, famous musician
    Peter Beinart, author
    Jane Hirschman, author
    Erica Jong, author (Fear of Flying)
    Alice Kessler-Harris, dstinguished historian @ Columbia
    Pogrebin (Letty), author, political activist and co-founder of Ms. magazine.
    Michael Ratner, attorney and director, Center for Constitutional Rights
    Anne Roiphe, author
    Alisa Solomon, Journalism prof at Columbia
    Gloria Steinem, feminist author
    Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
    Peter Weiss, I goofed here, I thought it was the playwright and author of Marat/Sade, but that person died in 1982.

    They could get a lot more signatures. JVP has a mailing list of 100,000, but this petition didn’t even have signatures of all the JVP staffers. Still this is a milestone, as Scott says.
    A lot depends on whether or not the signatories can become a permanent organization.
    They also need some younger people. A lot of the people that I recognize are in their 60’s and 70’s. Gloria Steinem is 79.

  14. charlesfrith on January 30, 2014, 9:37 am

    Most excellent. Feels like the Cavalry arriving.

  15. NYIronweed on January 30, 2014, 10:25 am

    Bravo!! This letter helps restore my faith in all of those brave, just Jewish people that taught me so much about human rights and human dignity when I first moved to NYC 45 years ago. But then that was before the Age of AIPAC in America. I never thought I would live to hear the first progressive Democratic Mayor of NYC in years swear allegiance to the inequalities of Apartheid Israel. Shame.

    • jayn0t on January 30, 2014, 11:24 pm

      NYIronweed: “45 years ago… that was before the age of AIPAC”. 66 years ago, the US government caved in to the Zionist lobby, as Phil Weiss explained just 3 days ago:

      “I never thought I would live to hear the first progressive Democratic Mayor of NYC in years swear allegiance to the inequalities of Apartheid Israel.” You aren’t really that naive, are you?

  16. Lucas on January 30, 2014, 12:06 pm

    When it really mattered to stand up and be counted, so many opted to not do so.

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