A growing campaign to melt a figure of wax depicting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at New York's Madame Tussaud's Museum of Wax has intensified as dozens of New York's top state officials have stepped on board.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hinkind
A group of protesters led by New York legislator Dov Hikind demonstrated near the Museum in New York's Time Square, and urged the Museum's administration to throw away or melt Arafat's wax image.
Hikind, an Orthodox Jewish politician said in a statement released two days before the March rally, "Arafat, alive and breathing or with wax in his lungs, does not belong in any venue in New York.''
The lawmaker said the wax figure "glorifies Arafat and what he does" adding that he "should be immediately removed".
But Hikind was not the only official voice demanding the disposal of Arafat's wax figure. A petition signed by 56 New York state lawmakers and supported by Gov. George Pataki is currently being circulated to state politicians whose increasing support is putting more pressure on the Museum's administration.
Hikind, who has been the core of the campaign said that his efforts are motivated by his belief that Arafat "has orchestrated a campaign of premeditated violence against Israeli citizens" over the last eight months.
The museum's general manager, Janine Scarpello is standing firm and has refused to remove the depiction of Arafat.
"The decision to portray an individual is irrespective of any political or religious stance."
Hikind, a long-time advocate of the Israeli government was also a spokesman for the late right-wing Israeli terrorist Meir Kahane of the Jewish Defense League.
The JDL, recognized by the US State Department as a terrorist organization, advocates the extermination of all Arabs from Palestine.
But the aging New York politician says he is still proud of his years with the Jewish Defense League.
In a recent interview with Jewish Week, Hikind said he was "proud of every moment" working with Kahane "on behalf of Soviet Jewry and fighting anti-Semitism."
The Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) reacted angrily to the campaign, describing the efforts as "depressing nonsense".
"Politically and psychologically, they pretend Palestinians don't exist," Ibish said. "They think that if you just melt the wax figure of a Palestinian then everything would be OK."
Some say that despite the seeming absurdity of the campaign, Hikind's efforts might finally succeed, considering his serious influence in New York politics.
Hikind is credited for reversing the fate of the 1994 Governor elections as his backing of the Pataki camp at the last moment helped him to achieve a landslide victory over then incumbent Mario Cuomo.