(JTA) — Kalman Yeger, a New York City councilman, lost his seat on the City Council’s Immigration Committee for tweeting “Palestine does not exist.”
The tweet, posted Wednesday, came in response to a tweet by Zainab Iqbal, a journalist for the local publication Bklyner. Yeger, who represents the haredi Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, also called Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar an anti-Semite. Omar has been accused repeatedly of echoing anti-Semitic stereotypes.
The City Council’s leadership team met Monday and removed Yeger from the committee, according to The New York Times. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio had condemned Yeger’s statement and said he should step down from the Immigration Committee if he does not apologize. Council Speaker Corey Johnson also said he was “uncomfortable” with Yeger sitting on the committee.
“I very vigorously condemn his comments in no uncertain terms,” Johnson said, according to The Times. “The best thing about our city is our diversity, and that includes our Jewish community and it includes our amazing Palestinian community as well who live here.”
Yeger declined to comment on the issue to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, but in a news conference Thursday he doubled down on his statement.
“There is no state by that name; there is no place by that name,” he said, according to the New York Post. “That’s a fact. I did not make it up.”