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Great Neck anti-hate rally focuses on rise in crimes, rhetoric

Dozens of Jewish people, their supporters and local officials rallied in Great Neck Sunday to call attention to anti-Semitic crimes and condemn elected leaders accused of promoting anti-Semitism. Credit: Barry Sloan

Dozens of Jewish people and their supporters rallied in Great Neck Sunday to call attention to anti-Semitic crimes and condemn elected leaders accused of promoting anti-Semitism.

Those who spoke underscored the importance of having zero tolerance for hatred from both ends of the political spectrum and referenced recent acts of violence against Jews, including the October massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is rising around the world at a rate unprecedented since before the Holocaust,” said Alan Mazurek, a retired neurologist and one of the event’s organizers. “For the first time in my life I am truly scared for the United States. Unfortunately, it [anti-Semitism] stalks the hallowed halls of Congress.”

Many of those who spoke during the two-hour event at Village Green Park, including Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), referred to comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), who has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.

Omar, a Somali-American who is Muslim, was rebuked in February by Democrats and Republicans after she made inflammatory comments about the influence of pro-Israel lobbying groups. She apologized for her comments, which included a 2012 tweet that said Israel had "hypnotized" America, but she has continued to criticize lobbying groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Several speakers on Sunday echoed calls from officials, including those of Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), seeking Omar’s ouster from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Other elected officials have rallied around the freshman congresswoman, saying she was unfairly targeted.

Omar’s comments, which spurred Congress to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other bigotry, were mentioned Sunday by Rice and Suozzi, neither of whom are Jewish.

“I wasn’t afraid to call out the president of the United States when he failed to denounce the violent neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville two years ago,” Rice said during the rally. “And I wasn’t afraid to call it out when it was a member of my own party.”

Rally speakers, including other Nassau Democrats, all stressed solidarity with the Jewish people.

Romina Weiss, 51, an attorney from Great Neck, said she attended Sunday’s rally with her 15-year-old daughter to stand up against anti-Semitism and encouraged all other Americans to do the same.

“We all have to unite together for what is right,” she said.

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