NEW YORK (JTA) — The Great Neck Synagogue in suburban New York canceled a planned appearance by Islam critic Pamela Geller, citing security concerns.
The Long Island synagogue on Thursday posted on its website a letter from its executive board explaining why Sunday’s talk featuring Geller had been called off.
“As the notoriety and media exposure of the planned program this Sunday have increased, so has the legal liability and potential security exposure of our institution and its member families,” the statement said. “In an era of heightened security concerns, it is irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate.”
Geller has been criticized by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and others for her harsh comments about Islam.
Jewish Voice for Peace had protested the synagogue’s decision to have Geller speak, saying she fomented hatred against Muslims.
“Our hope is that the synagogue will cancel her appearance,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, told the Forward earlier in the week. “The kind of venom that she spews against Islam is completely inappropriate for a synagogue.”
The ADL has called Jewish Voice for Peace, a San Francisco Bay Area-based group, "the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States."
According to The New York Jewish Week, counter protests in support of Geller had been planned for outside the Orthodox synagogue.
Geller said that opposition to her talk stemmed from the desperation of “leftist and Islamic supremacist groups," according to The Jewish Week.
“They know that they are perpetrating a Goebbels-like Big Lie, and so even though they have immense influence in the media and in government, they are avid to silence anyone who speaks the truth because they fear how the truth, even when spoken in a small venue, exposes them," she wrote in an email.