It had to happen. Jewish activists are targeting the removal of Peter Stuyvesant. Jewish activists are demanding that New York mayor Bill de Blasio scrub all traces of this historical figure from city property. Peter Stuyvesant served as the last Dutch director of the colony of New Netherlands (New Amsterdam was a city within the colony) from 1647, until the British gained control in 1664. During Stuyvesant’s tenure, 23 Jews arrived in New Amsterdam – the first group of Jews to set foot on North American soil. They were escaping the Inquisition that had already spread its roots to Brazil. Stuyvesant was less than hospitable – and that’s putting it mildly. He wanted the Jews back on the boat immediately. As a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, Peter Stuyvesant opposed religious pluralism. He saw the Jews as blasphemous, deceitful, and very repugnant. For the record, Peter Stuyvesant also had no use whatsoever for Catholics, Lutherans, and Quakers.
Politically speaking, I take no public stand over what has transpired concerning the removal of statues of Confederate figures. (If you are brave enough, you are welcome to visit me in my office, to hear my very definite views concerning the matter). I do, however, take a public stand when the movement to remove statues becomes a Jewish issue. Even though a goodly number of Jews including Jewish leaders, both secular and otherwise, will in all likelihood take issue with me, I share with you my views:
Fellow Jews, be careful where you tread! If anti-Semitism is your criterion for statues to be removed, then you ought to be prepared to campaign for the removal of statues of the following four Presidents for starters (two of them were Democrats; two of them were Republicans), because, without exception, all made disparaging remarks against Jews: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Ulysses S. Grant and Richard M. Nixon. Fellow Jews, lighten up when it comes to anti-Semitic remarks! A good many individuals who make anti-Semitic remarks are unaware that they are doing so. Am I the only one who vividly remembers “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me?” Can you imagine what a wonderful world this would have been if, between 1939 and 1945, six million of the most vile and vicious anti-Semitic slurs and curses as well as hurtful rhetoric but nothing more were hurled at the Jews of Europe by the Nazis? Can you imagine if Muslim extremists of today would make disparaging comments against us, curse us and make anti-Semitic remarks that are out of this world, rather than blow us off the face of this earth?
Fellow Jews! You want to remove statutes because of your Jewish sensitivities? Better you should remove statues of world leaders who have been responsible for murdering the masses. Given the blood they have shed, removal of statues of Adolph and Uncle Joe (Stalin) is a mitzvah of the highest order. I will personally underwrite all costs and expenditures for anyone to fly to Kiev to have a statue of Bogdan Chmelnitzky lawfully and successfully removed from city center, given the hundreds of thousands of Jews he was responsible for massacring in the mid-seventeenth century. On Tuesday, I saw Prime Minister Netanyahu pointing out how Palestinians glorify statues of Khaled Nazzal, Abu Sakkar, and Dalal Mugrabi – terrorists who succeeded in murdering innocent Israeli (Jewish) men, women and children. For those who fail to see any difference and insist on equating mass murder of Jews with hurting feelings of Jews, think again!
Fellow Jews! Our religion commands us to smash idols, not statues. Idols are the objects of foreign and forbidden worship. Statues can either be objects of admiration (if the statue represents a truly honorable individual) or objects of abhorrence (if the statue represents a truly reprehensible individual). In reality, were it not for pigeons, most statues would be completely ignored. As a spokesman for a people for whom the pyramids of Egypt (also statues of sorts) represent our collective past and would never even entertain the thought of taking them down, I ask that statues of anti-Semites – real or perceived – be seen in the same light. Let such statues also serve as a reminder of our people’s past. Rather than dismantle, let us take up the mantle… of learning and remembering.