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Andrew Yang Comes Under Fire in Astoria, Following Comments on Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Andrew Yang came under fire Tuesday following a controversial tweet regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict (Photo: @andrewYang)

May 12, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang got a cool reception in Astoria Tuesday after he sent out an apparent pro-Israel tweet Monday night.

Yang visited the neighborhood for an endorsement announcement and was then scheduled to join a local nonprofit to distribute groceries to families ahead of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

However, a statement he tweeted Monday evening about the Israel-Palestinian conflict left him in hot water and the nonprofit Astoria Welfare Society rescinded its invitation.

“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” Yang tweeted. “The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

The Astoria Welfare Society asked Yang not to come to the food distribution event due to his pro-Israel remarks, the nonprofit said in a statement.

“We, Astoria Welfare Society in New York, rescinded our invitation to Andrew Yang for our Eid event today,” the group tweeted. “His disregard of Palestinian lives is regrettable and immoral.”

Like the nonprofit, many New Yorkers were upset that his tweet ignored the large number of Palestinians — including children — killed by Israeli military forces over the past three days.

Two New Yorkers confronted Yang head-on about his statement on the conflict Tuesday in Astoria, video shows.

“What do you have to say about your tweet directly to New Yorkers right now,” a woman asked Yang in a video posted to Twitter by a NY1 reporter.

“It’s heartbreaking to all of us what’s happening in the Middle East,” Yang responded.

A man in the video — identified as Abid Rahman by NY1 — then asked Yang if he would condemn Israel for “their unjust acts against innocent Palestinians?”

However, Yang’s aid steps in and grabs the candidate — who has the support of the city’s Orthodox Jewish community — before he addresses the question.

“Don’t say anything that’s going to f–k up your campaign,” the woman taunted Yang in response. “And that’s why you don’t have my vote and I guarantee you, you don’t have the vote of a lot of New Yorkers.”

The video gained the attention of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sharply condemned Yang.

“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked,” she tweeted. “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”

Astoria council candidate Tiffany Cabán retweeted Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, emphasizing that Astoria residents will “let you know” when they disagree.

Ocasio-Cortez and Cabán are among a growing number of progressives in Queens who are outspoken critics of the Israeli government. Both are members of the the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which shares pro-Palestine views.

Another pro-Palestine politician is Astoria Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani.

Mamdani, also a DSA member, participated in an “Emergency Rally for Palestine” in front of the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan Tuesday.

“The struggle for Palestine is the struggle for dignity and every single one of us…has to be committed to dignity in Gaza; every single one of us that wants justice… needs to be fighting for justice in the West Bank,” Mamdani said at the rally.

He asked New Yorkers to pressure their elected officials to support the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which asks other countries to boycott, divest and sanction Israel for its treatment of Palestinian citizens.

“We want to let them know that we have three letters that we have an answer to what is happening in Palestine. And it’s B.D.S,” he shouted, spurring a “BDS” chant.

This morning, Yang made another statement regarding the conflict.

He said a group of his own campaign volunteers approached him about the tweet which they said was “overly simplistic” and “failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering on both sides.”

“They were, of course, correct,” Yang said. “I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time as I do for every Israeli.”

“Support of a people does not make one blind to the pain and suffering of others,” he added.

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