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August 25, 2017 9:23 am

Israeli Legal Rights Group Pushes for NYC Mayor to Remove All Traces of Antisemitic Dutch Leader From the City


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The statue of Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square, Manhattan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Israel-based legal rights organization is demanding that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio remove all monuments honoring a late antisemitic Dutch colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant — including a high school named after him — as part of an effort to erase all “symbols of hate” from the city.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, said in a statement that Stuyvesant — a 17th-century Dutch leader of New Amsterdam– was “an extreme racist who targeted Jews and other minorities including Catholics and energetically tried to prohibit them from settling in” what would later become New York.

“New York, of all American cities, which boasts such important Jewish history and claims such a present day vibrant Jewish community, should take the lead in denouncing Stuyvesant’s bigotry,” Darshan-Leitner added.

The various landmarks in New York named after Stuyvesant include Stuyvesant Square and its statue of him, the elite public Stuyvesant High School, Stuyvesant Plaza and the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Darshan-Leitner recommended that de Blasio replace all mentions of Stuyvesant’s name with that of Asher Levy, one of the first Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam.

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A spokesman for the New Netherlands Institute told the New York Post that Darshan-Leitner’s demands were “ridiculous” and said statues of historical figures with outdated views should not be treated the same as monuments of “treasonous” Confederates from the Civil War era.

“This is an entirely different case,” the spokesman stated. “This was about customs in the 17th century. They should talk about the history, but not start removing statues.”

The New York Post noted that Stuyvesant, under the order of the Dutch West India Company, ultimately allowed people he described as “deceitful” and “blasphemous” — including Jews — to settle in New Amsterdam.

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