Borough Park

Hikind, Menchaca settle differences over Arab leader Sarsour’s comments

November 4, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Dov Hikind (left) and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca met at Hikind’s house to discuss the controversy. Photo courtesy of Hikind’s office

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who has come under fire from Jewish elected officials over his support for controversial Arab-American leader Linda Sarsour in the wake of her Twitter posts praising Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, met with Assemblymember Dov Hikind at Hikind’s home Tuesday to explain his comments. 

Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), whose district also includes parts of Borough Park, a community with large numbers of Orthodox Jews, told Hikind that his statements were misinterpreted, according to Hikind, who said he accepted Menchaca’s explanation.

Much of the controversy has played out on Twitter.

Sarsour, executive director of the nonprofit Arab American Association of New York, posted a series of tweets on her Twitter account about recent Arab-Israeli clashes in Israel, including a photo on Oct. 11 of a Palestinian boy holding rocks in front of Israeli forces.

“The definition of courage. #Palestine,” Sarsour tweeted.

Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Queens) replied with a tweet, “No, the definition of barbarism.” Sarsour responded, “The Zionist trolls are out to play. Bring it. You will never silence me.”

Menchaca, an ally of Sarsour, inserted himself into the fray by tweeting support for her on his Twitter account.

Menchaca tweeted “#IstandWithLINDA Estoy Contino, mi hermana!” which is Spanish for “I’m with you, my sister!”

Sarsour was the master of ceremonies at Menchaca’s swearing in ceremony at Sunset Park High School last year when he took office.

After the face-to-face meeting with Hikind, Menchaca issued a statement to clarify his earlier comments.

“I recently stood up in support of the Arab American Association of New York and its leader, Linda Sarsour. I was misunderstood. Let me be clear. I do not support rock-throwing or any act of violence or speech that incites hate of any people,” Menchaca stated.

Hikind said he was satisfied with the statement.

“In a meeting at my house today, I explained to Councilman Menchaca how upset people were about his seeming support for Sarsour’s anti-Israel posts. Carlos made it very clear to me that he was misunderstood and had no intention of advocating for any kind of violence. Councilmember Menchaca is a friend of our community and I consider him a personal friend. After discussing this matter today and clearing the air, we want to put this controversy behind us,” Hikind said in a statement.

Hikind recently returned from a trip to Israel, where said he said he saw first-hand “how terrorists use rocks and knives to maim and kill innocent civilians.”

In response to the meeting and Menchaca’s statement, Lancman issued a statement of his own.

“The progressive tent is a big one, but there can never be room for the vilification of Israel or for terrorism’s apologists, and I welcome Councilman Menchaca’s denunciation of both. The war against Israel and the Jewish people is not welcome in progressive politics,” Lancman stated.

Sarsour did not return phone calls.