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Boston city councilor apologizes for blasting supposed Zionist 'shakedown' after people tell her that might be more than a tad anti-Semitic

Tweet that read: ya’ll are letting the Zionists SHAKE YOU DOWN. phew!

Since deleted tweet.

At 8:45 a.m., District 6 (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Mission Hill) City Councilor Kendra Lara unleashed a firestorm of criticism with the above tweet.

One of the milder criticisms came wo hours later, when Michael Benezra, one of the founders of the non-profit GK Fund, responded:

I understand that intent matters and I try to keep this in mind when assessing rhetoric. But Councilor..this is the kind of language used by Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. I know that you are neither - but it’s important to understand why this is incendiary.

Lara replied:

Oh I get it! the use of the phrasing was lost on me but I have been told now, thank you!

"I am sorry," she replied to another critic.

She then tweeted some more, declaring her tweet was not out of the blue, even though it provided no context whatsoever, but in reaction to an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment, in a case that involves public contractors who could be fired if they refuse to sign a document that they won't boycott Israel over its actions against Palestinians.

Alright ya’ll, my mentions are in shambles so just to be clear, I was responding to this ruling here.

I maintain my disappointment with the eighth circuit courts ruling and believe that conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism will ultimately prevent us from being in true solidarity with both Jewish people and Palestinians.

It was made clear to me, that the use of the phrase ‘shake them down’ reinforces Anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish people.

Although that was not my intention, the impact - especially in a moment when we’re seeing alarming rates of violence against Jewish people— is the same and I should’ve known better.

I’m grateful for folks like Prof. Ben Siegel who called me in on this and for the Jewish community in D6 who I get to keep learning from.

This stuff is insidious and I’m committed to keep weeding it out in myself and my community.

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Comments

“ conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism”.

She was called out and back tracked. She’s still an anti semite.

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It’s amazing watching elected Boston City councilors speak their mind, and they will announce their ignorance and stupidity to the citizens of Boston.

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Anti-zionism and antisemitism are not at all the same thing. Conflating the two and painting anybody who criticizes the state of Israel as an antisemite is one of the major tactics used by AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups as a cooling effect that will allow them to continue commiting atrocities against Palestinians without any consequences. Personally, I found her apology to be sincere and well written.

Free Palestine,
A Jew from District 6

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Anti-zionism that speaks in terms of conspiracy theories and "Zionists" running the world is virtually always antisemitism.

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I continually wonder why so many of my fellow Jews feel attacked by people criticizing Zionism. It feels way too much like when my fellow white people feel attacked by people criticizing white supremacy.

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I'd say there's a pretty important distinction between criticizing the actions of the Israeli state vs. denying the right of the state to exist. When people critique Zionism writ large, they're arguing that the state shouldn't exist.

In my view, you can fairly hold that critiquing Israeli state policies (of which some are odious) is akin to condemning white supremacy, and that those who object are like the white-fragile.

Arguing that Israel doesn't have a right to exist (i.e., opposing Zionism) is something very different from the above.

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I don't support the occupation.

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When they vote based on identity politics and not the actual substance of the candidates. Kendra Hicks for district 6 was and is a sham. She is clearly not as qualified for the job as Tamer. The only reason she won is because the race card was played and she had a catchy slogan that rhymed, which also turned out to be phony as can be.

There is absolutely nothing racist about putting your political opponents in greyscale. Politicians have been doing that for decades and the fact that it suddenly became racist according to some is quite amazing, especially when the supposed “not racist” candidate ends up spewing bigotry online and all she can say is “oops.”

This is what you get with identity politics. You will not get the most qualified candidate, you will get hustlers who use anything they can other than actual policy to get to their positions of power.

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The preferred candidate of the Westie whiteys? Get a grip on yourself. She’s a disaster.

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I’m sorry you hate white people in West Roxbury. There are people out there who can help rid of you of your antagonistic and tribalistic thoughts, but you’ll have to open your mind and let go of hate.

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If a pale white male made this statement he would be submitting his resignation in the morning.

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No, not the guy from West Roxbury, the two women ...

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Also, if someone uses a term like "Zionists", or anything else that they don't understand, they're a fucking idiot.

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Explain to me what this means exactly? Or was this just some fluffy nonsense tossed in there during the walk-back?

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Former school committee members.

The 2023 election season may have just gotten interesting. The Arab Lara beat wouldn't have sent that tweet out in a million years.

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Yes, I know, you're trying to be cute, but calling her that makes her sound like she was running her campaign from, I don't know, the deserts of Saudi Arabia or something. She's as American as you or I. If you have to get racist to make a crack, maybe try again.

Second, I hope you are joking, or maybe you forgot about her infamous mailer.

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Some quick Google searching brings up that clearly states she is "a dual citizen in the U.S. and Lebanon." Last I checked, Lebanon was an Arab country, whose citizens are therefore Arab.

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So, what ethnicity is Ms. Tamer? I mean, since you know these things, do tell.

You do realize that Arabs can be even more American than even you or me, right? Just ask the Sununu clan or Roslindale's own Joe Abboud.

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Yes, she is an Arab, and I shouldn't have said she isn't.

I am quite aware of her background and, to be honest, I thought you were trying to "other" her, the same way that "Jew" can be used as an insult in a heated discussion like this one, by calling her that instead of, say, Arab-American. But it was wrong for me to deny her heritage like that.

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And I will note that thanks to your excellent reporting on the race last year I knew that her family came from the Levant.

No attempt at othering, just making the point that in fact Tamer's parents came from a place much closer to the Israel/Palestine conflict than Lara is, yet would know better than to use anti-Semitic tropes to disagree with what I agree is a bad court decision.

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The third paragraph of this story might help you sort out what part of the world her parents were from.

Now, if you really want to keep up the "she's not an Arab" charade, twisting things around to make it so should be interesting. Can't wait to read it.

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They didn't see anything wrong with their comments and only resigned reluctantly. One wishes they were more understanding of why it's wrong to slander people based on their demographics and resigned in embarrassment, not public pressure.

Maybe because I'm Jewish but I find the deleted tweet to be worse. Causal, "unintentional" antisemitism leads to real violence against Jews. More importantly, it makes people think Jews "deserve" the hate as if it's justified revenge.

If you want to eliminate prejudices, you can't pick and choose who gets a pass.

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Certain people get a pass. Look at Nick Cannon. Look at Whoopi Goldberg. There are many prominent Black celebrities and politicians who are clear anti-Semites. It goes back many decades.

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/bald...

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adl-survey-finds-anti-semitism-high...

For prejudice to go away, everyone needs to be held accountable, including those running around thinking they aren’t bigots by saying things like “westie whites” or “westie whiteys.” Once you say something like that you are using a racial slur and you’re no better than a racist. In fact, you are exactly the same, both with an incredibly high level of deniability and a very low level of accountability.

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She has to go. Plain and simple.

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The voters can decide that next election.

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Her walk back was not an apology, and her "I am sorry" came hours later at 2:40 PM. Not good.

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All of the appalling specifics of this case aside, you would think elected politicians would be smart enough to provide some context to whatever they do tweet, as opposed to assuming that of everything happening in the world, everyone would know what this was a reaction to.

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She’s not bright. She won by playing the race card. In person she comes across as unintelligent and very childish.

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...that white people are never said to "play the race card"?

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It's just couched in different words like "white supremacy," "white nationalism," "Trump supporter," "ultra-MAGA," etc.

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Elected politicians at pretty much ANY level would not tweet anything at all without running the proposed tweet by cooler minds. And the apology seems like it was written by an entirely different person.

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Ms. Lara’s tweet certainly has the ring of an anti-Semitic rant, and if it was not one, she deserves a certain amount of condemnation for either not caring, or not understanding that it would be perceived as such. I wouldn’t vote for her even if I accepted the sincerity of her apology, because I don’t want the world being run by people who shout things on twitter. Not even if they apologize, or even if they are sometimes right.

That said, I do not see any reason to doubt the sincerity of her apology. She is right in finding fault with herself, and she is right about the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. There are two groups that commonly do this; anti-Semites and Zionists. The anti-Semites enthusiastically interpret the Zionist project of attempting to control a few thousand square miles of the Levant as a prototype of their larger scheme to control the world. Zionists would prefer to regard anyone who opposes their project as being motivated by hatred of Jews, rather than by concern for the rights of others.

She is also right in condemning the decision of the 8th Court of Appeals, which allows state legislatures to pass laws that discriminate against disfavored opinions, using the fig-leaf that participating in a boycott is not speech and thus isn’t protected. The State of Arkansas passed a law requiring state contractors to sign a pledge that they would not participate in any boycott against Israel. Failure to sign the pledge resulted in financial penalties. Note that it is a failure to make the pledge, not actually boycotting, that is punished.

Arkansas is not alone in this; thirty-something states have passed similar laws. They are monstrous, but they’re not the work of Zionists. They are the work of American right-wingers who misunderstand Zionism every bit as much as the anti-Semites do, sympathizing with it because they see in it a reflection of their own anti-Arab bigotry, and above all their hatred of everything they associate with liberalism, such as concern for the rights of displaced peoples. Their support for hard-line right-wingers in Israel does not prevent them from making alliances with neo-Nazis, both in Eastern Europe and at home. Hatred of a common enemy is all that matters.

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This thoughtful and accurate response should be the first comment people read.

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On top of that I'd also add that there's a really creepy form of Zionism perpetuated by US right-wing Christians who are hoping to bring the end of the world sooner due to conflict with Arab states. That's just another reason you can't equate "anti-Zionist" and "antisemite".

Things are allowed to be complicated.

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there's a really creepy form of Zionism perpetuated by US right-wing Christians who are hoping to bring the end of the world sooner due to conflict with Arab states

Creepy indeed, and flying under the radar of a lot of people who should be more aware of this trend.

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I would cross my fingers behind my back, if I didn't really want to apologize or wasn't sincere in my statement.

You too, Kendra?

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At this point when I hear any kind of anti-Zionist language I assume that either they are either anti-Jewish or they genuinely do not know what they are talking about.

Recently, on Facebook, I called out a fellow who complained about the people who control the media and the nation. After weaving and bobbing he eventually used the word "roach."

I shared with him that roaches were used by NAZIs to dehumanize Jews in the NAZI film propaganda. The fellow took umbrage at my implication. Called me nasty names, claimed to be 1 of the 3,000 greatest experts of WW2 and said he never heard about this propaganda.

Was he lying or genuinely living in such a empty bubble that he never learned this bit of WW2 history.

I feel the same applies to BDS.

The nation of Israel has been a target of violence ever since May 14, 1948. That means surviving with in a constant state of trauma.

Imagine if 9/11 was a regular occurrence in this nation? In spite of our pleasure of violence (cf., Supreme Court virtually declares open carry of devices for death) was a regular occurrence. If every year there was a mass murder of US citizens. The US goes to WAR. River of blood flows.

Israel is a western nation planted in a land of authoritarian thugs. If a comparable nation-state had existed in Central or South America the same dynamic would exist.

When Israel is no longer under constant threat by Arab and Persian nations, when the kings and mass murderers of Arab states, when Hezbollah and Hamas, all stop striving to destroy Israel, then Israel can be stand in a public court of judgement.

Israel is not the aggressor. No Israeli government existed without "sin." But then the sins of Israel as compared to the US make Israel seem saintly.

BDS reminds me of US citizens in the 60s and 70s who wanted the Soviet Union to be a beacon of human freedom, to the extreme that they chose to be blind to the horrors of the USSR. We treat Communist China with kid gloves in spite of its various attempts at ethnic cleansing and genocide.

I can believe that BDS supporters in this nation are sincere. But like the American supporters of the the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, Khrushchev, they are foolish wanting to see an enemy, and choosing as the enemy the smallest group in the gang fight that is the Middle East.

Much of the Middle East is run by governments that value violence. More so than the US. They value authoritarian and theocratic dictatorships.

BDS reminds me of a boy who is abused by bigger boys, and so instead of pushing back (because he is too small) he chooses to bully boy smaller than him.

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...and I don't know if they're legit, but I think that the "sin" (your word) to which they object is not how Israel treats its neighbors, but how it treats people within its own borders, and sometimes people who are outside of its current technical borders (i.e., Gaza) but over whom Israel maintains a very large degree of control that adversely affects these people's lives. It isn't a state vs. state thing.

And I very much object to being told that I, as a US citizen, may not choose to vote with my dollars when I see objectionable practices, i.e., boycott, and may not encourage others to do likewise.

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Now do antifa.

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BDS supporters are telling you how to vote with your dollars. I am not. I do argue that BDS is wrong. It redirects focus from the larger issue.

Palestinians were turned into tools for the user of maintaining constant state of disruption in the Middle East. Iranian, Syrian, Saudi Arabian Wahabis, Iraqi governments do not want a nation whose presence is a contradiction to the forms of power and governance that are preferred by authoritarian regimes.

Punishing Israel for how its internal affairs are conducted while enriching the greatest practitioner of modern slow genocide by Communist China is a massive hypocrisy that invalidates the promoters of BDS.

Can there be a separate Palestinian state composed of Gaza and the West Bank? Look at Bangladesh and the forced separation of Germany post Versailles for examples of how well that works.

For the sake of stability it may ultimately make sense to incorporate Gaza and the West Bank into Israel proper. That would be the worst case scenario for governments that benefit from maintaining disruption in the area. Therefore unless the forces that want to maintain disruption stop using Palestinians as their puppets there will remain conflict, violence and all the strife and pain that is part of maintaining a permanent state of national trauma.

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Forget intent for a second. Her ability to communicate about important matters to a diverse constituency she is sworn to elect… is elementary and frankly, pathetic. While her politics couldn’t be further from Trump, her style of incitement and online drama are the same.

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i'm anti Israeli government not anti Jew. Many of us are. I really wish people would stop mixing the two. You can hate Israels government without hating Jewish people.

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You were to deeply consider the never ending threat posed by Aran and Persion nation=statues against Israel. Put aside morality; deal with realpolitik. Israel is the closets to western governments as possible.

Democracy of any degree does not exist in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern nations are by and large atavistic governments where the lowest people at the pyramid of power accept the mastery of the rulers, benevolent or being. Assad, the theocratic powers-elite, all reject any opposition to their chosen successors of power. Just like medieval Europe nation-state

Israel is a severe disruption to their method of rule.

US Americans allowed themselves to be fooled into believing that the totalitarian monstrosity the USSR, and we sell ourselves to the totalitrarian monstrosity of Communist China, BDS, anti-Zionism is just another part of that American naïveté (a naïveté that also led to votes for the greatest fraud in all US Presidential election; Trump).

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What does Ms. Lara really know about Jewish history?

I have a feeling that she’s simply imbibed whole a particular kind of anti-Zionism popular on the left that is truly callous in its selective disregard for the reasons why colonist-settler Zionism took root (hint: Pogroms).

it’s often leftist Jews that are championing this kind of anti-Zionism, and methinks that someone like Ma. Lara might conclude that the message must be right since it’s Jews themselves that are often the key tribunes of it (unlike other controversial geopolitical cases where implicated peoples may be more likely to simply adopt the nationalist line). Nobody does self-abnegation better than us Jews.

I have my critiques of Israel, too, but it’s plain that Lara has lost all of the nuance.

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Yes, that's believable.
She knows exactly what it means and it's exactly what she meant.

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