Skirmish Over Cancelled Geller Speech Draws Hundreds to Chabad, Rally

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Helen Freedman, Director of AFSI, along with long-time Jewish activist, Charlie Bernhaut demonstrate outside the Nassau County Human Rights Commission to protest the suppression of Pamela Geller's right to free speech
Helen Freedman, Director of AFSI, along with long-time Jewish activist, Charlie Bernhaut demonstrate outside the Nassau County Human Rights Commission to protest the suppression of Pamela Geller's right to free speech
Helen Freedman, Director of AFSI, along with long-time Jewish activist, Charlie Bernhaut demonstrate outside the Nassau County Human Rights Commission to protest the suppression of Pamela Geller’s right to free speech
The heated battle over a scheduled appearance by anti-Islamist activist Pamela Geller at the Great Neck Synagogue that was ultimately cancelled came to a head on Sunday morning, when hundreds showed up to hear Geller speak instead at the area’s Chabad shul, as well as to join a free speech demonstration afterwards outside the Nassau County Human Rights Commission.

Geller has gained substantial attention in recent years for her vocal opposition to the dangers of Islamic extremism, which has included such actions as coordinating a rally against the “Ground Zero” mosque and placing billboard advertisements in the New York City subway system decrying Islamic-based terrorism.

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky, Chabad of Great Neck’s spiritual leader, explained that he had invited Geller to deliver her speech – entitled “The Imposition of Sharia in America” – because he felt he could not remain silent while “evil was acting.”

“We believe in free speech,” Geisinsky avowed. “We cannot just stay silent, that’s the reason we thought it was important.”

Geller called the event an unqualified success. “I’m thrilled that there’s such a large turnout,” she said, “that there are freedom lovers that are unafraid to stand up in spite of the campaign to defame, smear and libel anyone that speaks to this message.” Geller further stated, “It was divine: defiant, happy, confident freedom warriors standing up the face of Islamic supremacist and leftist intimidation, and refusing to bow down. It was one for the ages.”

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a pro-Israel activist and member of the Great Neck Synagogue, delivered remarks prior to Geller’s speech in support of her efforts. “We don’t attack a faith,” he said. “We attack a terribly dangerous minority within a faith that unfortunately that faith has not seen fit to sufficiently address.”

While there was no serious protest against Geller’s appearance outside the Chabad shul, a man who identified himself as Muslim stood on a nearby street distributing fliers that charged the blogger and activist with lying and spreading fear. “She has a place on the street,” he said, “not inside a house of worship.”

In addition to Geller, the Chabad of Great Neck gathering featured Greg Buckley, Sr., whose 21-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley was killed in August while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Buckley Sr. is campaigning for justice in his son’s murder and is seeking prosecution within American jurisdiction.

The event was followed by a related demonstration in front of the Nassau Human Rights Commission in Mineola, which was held to protest the actions of Commission member Habib Ahmed, who had spearheaded the communal effort to prevent Geller from speaking at the Great Neck Synagogue. Joining a lineup of speakers that included Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch and a recognized expert on radical Islam; Ashraf Ramelah, a leader of the Coptic Christian community; and Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans for a Safe Israel, Geller exhorted the crowd to take note of the failure of American leadership to honestly identify jihad terror.

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