Queens councilman blasts Glendale shelter protest outside synagogue as ‘anti-Semitic’ and demands apology

Photo: Max Parrott/QNS

Queens City Councilman Rory Lancman condemned the Glendale Middle Village Coalition’s protest on April 13 after QNS reported that the protesters marched outside the Long Island synagogue of the man who owns a defunct Glendale factory being eyed as either a public school or homeless shelter.

“Protesting outside a person’s synagogue on the Sabbath because they might not develop their private property the way you want is a grotesque act of anti-Semitism and fully deserves our unqualified condemnation. The so-called ‘Glendale Middle Village Coalition’ members should be ashamed of themselves, and should apologize for their repugnant conduct,” Lancman wrote in a press statement.

Lancman represents central Queens and is currently running for Queens district attorney.

Two coach buses full of protesters drove to Temple Or Elohim in Jericho, where Michael Wilner, who owns the factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave., sits as the synagogue’s president. Before they ended up at the synagogue, the group began the protest at Wilner’s house to demand that the abandoned factory in Glendale be developed into a school instead of a shelter.

The following video, captured by Lee Rottenberg, who was one of the protesters, shows the group walking through synagogue’s parking lot and being confronted by one of the congregants.

Mike Papa, one of the protest’s organizers, dismissed Lancman’s charge and stressed that it had “nothing to do with religion.”

“[Lancman] is probably just using this situation to get his name in print, however I will not allow him to turn this peaceful rally to promote a plan sponsored by our District Councilman Robert Holden to build a school for handicapped children in our community into another fabricated case of anti-Semitism. This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with community,” said Papa.

Papa added that the coalition had “many Jewish neighbors” participate in the rally that day and that he was not trying to hurt or disrespect any Jewish members of the community.

For his part, Holden echoed Lancman’s message to the protesters.

“When I found out that the protesters went to the synagogue, I immediately condemned the organizers for it in person,” said Holden. “I agree that it is repugnant conduct and the organizers of the rally should apologize.”

Asked for a response to Holden’s statement, Papa said that Holden had “condemned no one” when he met them after the protest on April 13.