US/World News

NY lawmaker draws fire over tweet erasing Israel off map

(JNS) Claiming that she was misunderstood, a New York state assemblywoman deleted a controversial tweet that replaced a map of Israel with Palestine and adorned with flowers. “I deleted a previous tweet that led to misunderstandings about my position,” said Phara Souffrant Forrest, 32, who’s also a nurse. “I stand against apartheid because I believe that all people deserve to live under equal rights, regardless of ethnicity or religion.” The map, however, was just one of several anti-Israel tweets by Souffrant Forrest, who touts support from Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on her website. Serving her first term in office, Souffrant Forrest also posted: “It is a moral stain on our country and all who live here to have our government and elected officials continue to prop up an Israeli state dedicated to apartheid. We must change that. #BDS #FreePalestine.”

Local Jewish community member Avi Lesches said, “In short, it is extremely disturbing and upsetting, to say the least, especially when this is coming from an elected official who represents a portion of Crown Heights,” the Brooklyn neighborhood that is home to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and one of the largest Jewish areas of New York City. Scott Richman, regional director of the ADL New York/New Jersey, said “it is incendiary and outrageous, especially at such a sensitive time, for any public official to make references to erasing Israel’s existence from the map or denying its Jewish history as well as leveling claims of apartheid.”

Before deleting the tweet, Forrest doubled down and retweeted the map on Thursday, writing: “This is a map of historic Palestine. This land has a history of peaceful coexistence. Today, as an @hrw [Human Rights Watch] report states, the reality on the ground is apartheid. We need to make sure our tax dollar don’t support the oppression of any peoples.”

Chaskel Bennett, a leader in the Orthodox Jewish community, called the post of the map “revolting.” “It is a very anxious time with Hamas’s indiscriminately targeting Israeli citizens, and yet here is a New York state assemblywoman weighing in with a map that says ‘Free Palestine.’ This is incitement and reckless language calling for the genocide of Jews.”

Main Photo: Phara Souffrant Forrest. Source: Facebook.

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