NYC Councillor David Greenfield gained some fame last week when he refused to remove his kippah (skullcap) despite being asked to do so by US security personnel in Ramallah.
As part of a group from the New York City Council, Greenfield had gone to Ramallah last Sunday to speak with officials, including members of the local city council.
He told Arutz Sheva that the request to remove his kippah (also called a yarmulke) came after a meeting with the American Consul-General in Jerusalem at his Ramallah office. He was asked to remove the kippah for the few seconds that the group would be in the street, between the office and the bus that transported them.
“I walked into Ramallah with my yarmulke on, of course,” he said. “I was pulled aside by security personnel and was told that I should not wear my yarmulke when I was leaving the building.”
The surprised Greenfield asked why he was being told this, and the answer was that “there was a security situation on the ground” and that it was not safe.
“I specifically asked them if it was unsafe for me or for the group – they said it was definitely not an issue for the group but they could not guarantee my personal safety. I explained for them that for me it’s a very significant issue and that quite frankly, had I been told this in advance, I never would have agreed to come to Ramallah.
“I was told that the US government was providing security and as an official, I expected them to keep up their end of the deal,” he said, adding that the request to have him remove the kippah had come from the Palestinian hosts.
“I think that it’s important that we should not be ashamed of who we are,” he summed up. “Especially with what we’re seeing in Europe, where unfortunately, European Jews cannot walk down the street with yarmulkes… They’ve been assaulted, they’ve spit at, people are routinely hurt… There’s no reason why a Jewish elected official should not be able to walk out of the American Consul General’s office in Ramallah 15 feet onto a bus, wearing his yarmulke.”
“I did walk out and I’m proud that I did wear my yarmulke,” he added – noting that Arabs walk down the streets in Israel with no fear at all.
Greenfield commented on the arrest of three NYC residents who were arrested for planning to join ISIS and who plotted domestic terrorism. He noted that the suspects lived in Flatbush, in the heart of the Jewish community and the district he represents, and that the arrests were “pretty shocking” and that “we need to take steps to make sure the community is even safer.”
Asked about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, Greenfield said that “there’s no question that the situation between Bibi and Barack [Obama] could have been handled better… but at this point it is done… the prime minister is coming, we should embrace him and make sure that our elected officials are there to hear a very important speech.”