Ban ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, spoke at New York’s Park East Synagogue over Shabbat. The United Nations is located in New York City, so it would not be such a surprise to have the UN Secretary General speak at a New York City shul, ordinarily. But these are not ordinary times.
Recently Ban has spoken and written publicly in ways, described by many, as justifying Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews.
So when it was revealed that the Secretary General was going to be speaking at the Park East Synagogue to commemorate the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Shabbat on Feb. 6, pro-Israel stalwarts decided to make sure Ban knew how they felt.
In advance of Ban’s visit, a member of the synagogue sent out a public message, expressing his disgust. Julius Weil tweeted: “Let’s make this a Moonless Shabbat.” He included:
If you’ve read the newspapers, you know there’s a global war on Israel and Jews. The U.N. is the epicenter of this anti-Jewish push. While we still have clout in the U.S. we must stand up and voice or [sic] anger. To invite the Secretary-General to speak in a house of God while he ignores condemning Palestnian acts of terror committed on a daily basis against innocent Israelis is just wrong. To do it under the pretext of honoring the memory of the six million who perished at the hands of the Nazis makes a mockery of their deaths.
There were more who had had enough.
There were pro-Israel supporters handing out flyers outside they shul. The ZOA leaflets that were being distributed included the following information:
On January 26, 2016, United Nations Sec’y-General Ban Ki-moon justified and legitimized terrorism against Jews, by publicly telling the Security Council: “It is human nature to react to occupation,” and that “Palestinians” are driven by “frustration” and “despair,” and by blaming “settlements” (Jewish communities on 2% of Judea/Samaria) for anti-Jewish terror.
Ban Ki-moon showed that he is morally bankrupt when he justified the inhumane Palestinian Arab terrorists who murdered 30 innocent Israeli Jews and injured almost 300 innocent Israeli Jews in stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks during the past four months in an ongoing terror wave. These vicious Arab terrorists even stabbed a Jewish pregnant woman and stabbed to death a Jewish mother of six children while she tried to protect her children.
Jews are not “occupiers” of our own land. And Arab terror against Jews existed long before Israel recaptured Judea/Samaria from illegal Jordanian occupation during a defensive war.
By making excuses for murdering Jews, Ban Ki-moon violated his duty to eradicate terror.
There were also pro-Israel supporters handing out flyers inside the shul, some stationed in the women’s section and others in the men’s section of the shul.
Some of the groups handing out the flyers were Americans for a Safe Israel, and the ZOA. There were also members of the Jewish Rapid Response Coalition.
One activist, Hillary Barr, of Mothers Against Terrorism, said she was approached by “security” as she was giving out her flyers, and told that what she was doing was a security risk.
Barr said, “I explained that in America you can hand out fliers at shuls,” and she would not turn hers over. She said she told him to “just relax.”
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the senior rabbi of the shul, introduced various holocaust survivors – he is also a holocaust survivor – and ended his speech with “we must not be silent.”
Barr said she “took the ‘we must not be silent’ as a direct message” to her. Then Rabbi Schneier introduced Ban ki-Moon. When Ban approached the podium, Barr stood up and said:
“You justified terrorism in Israel, which is justifying 9/11. There is no justification for terrorism.”
Barr was then escorted out of the synagogue. But she was not deterred. She re-entered the shul, and went into the room where kiddish was being prepared. In that room were many young mothers with their children. The pro-Israel stalwart explained the situation, and then moved on into the lunch room where all the dignitaries and members were having a meal. Barr continued explaining why it was important for everyone to know what Ban had done to, and said about Israel.
When Ban left the shul, Liz Berney of the Zionist Organization of America, shouted to him: “How dare you justify terrorism against innocent Israelis as a response to ‘occupation.’ There is no occupation. It’s our land! There’s no justification for terror! You’re promoting terrorism!” Berney had been handing out the ZOA flyers on the sidewalk outside of the shul.
Berney told the JewishPress.com that every person to whom she handed a ZOA flyer said they agreed with what was in the material, and many said they were unhappy that Rabbi Schneier invited him to the shul.
One woman was almost in tears. She told Berney that her mother was a Holocaust survivor, and that if she knew what was happening “she’d turn over in her grave.”
Hillary Barr, the activist who challenged Ban before his speech to the synagogue ended her account of the day by remarking that she felt what she did “empowered others to speak out and [that it] sent the message we will not be silent.”
This article has been updated after permission was granted to include the name of one of the pro-Israel activists, and to reflect that the ZOA activist, Liz Berney, was standing outside and handing out flyers on the sidewalk in front of the synagogue, not in a parking lot.
This article was published by Jewish Press and may be found here.