Jewish New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger became the subject of controversy last week when he denied the existence of Palestine and called congresswoman Ilhan Omar an antisemite. Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour then attacked Yeger by calling his statement "this kind of hate" and "bigoted."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined in the fray on Friday by giving Yeger an ultimatum to apologize or be removed from the City Council committee on immigrant issues.
“If you’re asking my personal opinion, yeah, I think someone who has the ability to say that about Palestinian people by definition should not be on the Immigration Committee,” the mayor said on WNYC radio, according to the New York Post.
"Now, if he comes out and he apologizes, and says, ‘Look, I was wrong and I realize what I did was hurtful and I’ve got to change,’ different discussion. But if he’s not going to apologize, he shouldn’t be on that committee,” de Blasio said.
As of last week, Councilman Yeger, who represents Brooklyn, was not apologetic. “There is no state by that name; there is no place by that name. That’s a fact. I did not make it up,”
According to the Post, Yeger doesn’t care whether he remains on the committee. “Whatever the speaker wants to do is fine by me…,” he said. “I didn’t ask to serve on the Immigration Committee. If he wants me there, I will be there. If he doesn’t want me there, then that’s the speaker’s choice.”
However, Yeger admitted that it may not have been judicious of him to publicly deny Palestine. “Did it need to be said on Twitter?” he said. “Probably not,… but it doesn’t make it untruthful.”