Hamas’ attack on Israel has New York City’s commercial real estate industry in a state of grief and outrage. Those emotions spilled into social media on Monday when restaurateur Keith McNally posted what proved to be an inflammatory comment on Instagram.
Along with a picture of Hamas rockets being fired into Israel, he wrote: “The More Utterly Repugnant The Facts, The Greater The Responsibility Becomes To Listen To The Other Side.”
A slew of commentators, among them New York City real estate players including Jack Cayre and Jared Epstein, chastised McNally in the comments of his post. Many vowed never to dine in his eateries again.
Contacted by Page Six, McNally initially defended his message, saying, “This doesn’t mean forgive. This doesn’t mean not retaliate. It simply means listen. There’s nothing to lose by listening.”
Star agent Tal Alexander was flabbergasted.
“Listen to the other side? Keith, are you not educated on who Hamas is?” he wrote.
“They’re a recognized terrorist organization who will not stop until and all Jews are extinct.
You should know better to make such a comment in hurtful times for so many. Keith you’re a person who is in the hospitality business, many of your customers Jews. I will never be eating at one of your establishments again and think everyone who’s listening should think twice about supporting any of your restaurant[s] until you get educated.”
Cayre was succinct. “Never going to any of your restaurants!” he declared.
Eventually McNally deleted his message and walked back his comments. “It is a terrorist organization comprising of murderers and thugs,” he wrote of Hamas. “I apologize for my post.”
But the incident reflected a lack of sensitivity to the horror gripping Israelis in commercial real estate, and Jews in general, as reporting of atrocities continues.
“I am doing what I can with my voice and social media outlets to encourage others who support Israel and Jews around the world to stand up and make their voices heard,” said Epstein, who is among McNally’s landlords. “We must all never forget the Holocaust and the fact that Silence contributed to the slaughtering continuing for far too long.”
The commercial real estate community is doing more than just using its voice. Big names across the industry are donating money to provide food, water, shelter and even helmets to those trapped in the conflict.
Israeli-born Shimon Shkury, the founder and president of Ariel Property Advisors, is a member and leader of a number of Israeli-focused real estate organizations, including the real estate division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and the real estate council of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC.
Shkury said that he, Ariel Property Advisors and some of its staff are donating to various organizations supporting aid to Israelis and the nation’s military.
“This is not just against Israel,” Shkury said of Hamas’ aggression. “This is against the Western world. This is against America. So from that perspective, it’s really heartwarming to see how much support we’re getting.”
KPG co-founder Greg Kraut came up with a plan for how to respond to those who don’t denounce Hamas: be a one-person sanction.
The boutique office developer pledged to not hire students who protest against Israel. He won’t go to countries or accept investment from countries if the leader doesn’t denounce Hamas. And he won’t patronize artists, musicians, athletes or airlines that don’t denounce Hamas.
“What actually really works is when you hit the pocketbooks,” he said. “People should understand that these things have financial consequences that will reverberate throughout their entire life.”
For those with family in Israel, the situation is incredibly distressing, yet not paralyzing: Many have taken action.
“My immediate family is okay, but there are many, many dozens of people that we know who are either dead, kidnapped or missing,” said real estate developer Michael Shvo. “I actually had family in the United States visiting me when this started, and everybody got back on the plane and flew to Israel because they all wanted to be back in the country, some of them in order to go fight the enemy.”