More than two dozen New York elected officials on Monday rallied at City Hall in support of Israel, with the state’s top leaders pronouncing their firm support for the Jewish state’s fight against terror.
The politicians, who included Reps. Charles Rangel, Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Jerry Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and several city councilmembers, said that Israel has a right to defend itself in its current conflict with Gaza terrorists who have shot hundreds of rockets at civilian areas across the state.
Mayor Bill de Blasio did not attend. But he said Monday at an unrelated press conference that it was “absolutely” appropriate for local officials to weigh in, in support of the Jewish state.
“I am the mayor of the city with the largest Jewish population, anywhere on this earth,” said de Blasio, a former councilman representing parts of Boro Park. “By definition, it’s not only normal and natural, I consider it my responsibility to stand up for the state of Israel. And Israel has a right to defend itself, period.”
Nearly 100 noisy pro-Palestinian protesters staged a counter-demonstration outside the City Hall gates. Loudly chant- ing, “They do not speak for us!” at times they drowned out the speakers.
Addressing the protesters, Rangel said they should rather protest against Hamas, reported The New York Observer.
“It would seem to me the protest would be with Hamas because you cannot negotiate for peace if you cannot control those people who are supposed to be your negotiating partners,” Rangel said. “As peaceful as I am, I find it impossible for me to believe that someone who says I should be dead, I should negotiate and see how dead you want me.”
Evoking the “special relationship” New York shares with Israel, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday released a strongly-worded statement professing support.
“Over the past week, rocket attacks on Israel by terrorist organizations have put six million lives at risk,” said Cuomo, who is reportedly planning a trip to Israel in the fall. “For years, rockets have targeted the Israeli population; what were once indiscriminate acts of terror have now become an onslaught. Friends stand together in times of crisis, and the people of New York stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel.”
Cuomo added that as a “bulwark of democracy,” Israel deserves the support of New Yorkers, who “have experienced global terrorism firsthand.”
The governor added that he has ordered the state’s Department of Financial Services to crack down on institutions that bankroll terrorist organizations. “And we will continue to work closely with our ally Israel to fight global terrorism,” he said.
In related news, Assemblyman Dov Hikind left for Israel Monday on a mission to “show chizuk” to the beleaguered population.
“I want to demonstrate solidarity with my fellow Jews,” said Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, “who are suffering through yet another terrible episode of terrorism from Hamas and the other extremist terror organizations.”
According to a press release, Hikind will stay in Be’er Sheva, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, “visiting the people and leadership there.”