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    Blue ribbons showing support for Israeli hostages spark debate in Rye over city permits, laws


    RYE, New York (WABC) — There is growing outrage Friday night in a town in Westchester County after someone removed several blue ribbons that were hung to show support for the Israeli hostages. The city of Rye is now trying to figure out if the flags that remain comply with its local laws, and what to do if they don’t.

    The blue ribbons started appearing just after Thanksgiving.

    “For a town that is predominantly not Jewish, for once I think Jews felt hurt. It was nice, we would see the ribbons and be like, somebody cares about us,” Rye resident Kelly Goldstein said.

    Goldstein is selling the ribbons to raise money for Israeli support groups. Over $6,000 has been raised so far.

    Some store owners are displaying them in windows, but dozens were hung on public property.

    Goldstein replaced many that disappeared, but it was the tying of ribbons downtown that resulted in a phone call from the mayor telling her she needed a permit.

    “What I had done, although he realized was without malicious intent, was something very illegal,” Goldstein said.

    “The fact that they need a permit to have them up is absolutely ridiculous, and I think it’s kind of antisemitic if you ask me,” resident Lendy Muller said.

    Rye’s mayor, who is Jewish, says he’s hurt by the accusations of antisemitism. A closed-door session before this week’s council meeting was not as some residents speculated. It was to order their removal rather than to consult with lawyers.

    “The issue always is that once messages are allowed, one has to allow popular messages and unpopular messages. We have to figure out where these messages lie in our sign law,” Rye Mayor Josh Cohn said.

    Mayor Cohn says signs advertising goods are removed when found. Some non-profit groups are granted permission, but for now the blue ribbons will stay up until a decision is reached.

    “It’s just something nice, I don’t understand why it’s taken to a level we don’t want to take it to, because it’s terrible,” store owner Sheryl Blit said.

    Goldstein’s original plan was to sell the ribbons through the last night of Hanukkah, though she says the effort may now extend beyond that.

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