New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and a bi-partisan delegation of state government and community leaders have spent the past three days packed back-to-back with briefings, meetings and tours of Israel.
Mostly, they have been expressing their solidarity with residents of the Jewish State. It comes in stark contrast to this week’s White House hold on a routine delivery of Hellfire missiles to its “closest friend and ally, the only democracy in the Middle East” — at a time when that ally is threatened by a foe receiving arms from Iran and Syria.
Cuomo and his fellow New Yorkers have done endless ‘meet and greets,’ especially in Jerusalem, where they stopped for the requisite snack at ‘Big Apple Pizza’ on the Ben Yehuda tourist walkway at the heart of the capital, and in the Old City of Jerusalem where the governor said a prayer at the Western Wall and was hugged by the leader of probably every represented faith, plus others.
Now Cuomo, Senate Majority co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are reaching the end of their three day solidarity visit. They’ve seen the people most affected by the current conflict: the millions of Israelis targeted by Hamas and allied terrorists in Gaza with their missiles and kidnapping plots and tunneling projects.
The state leaders arrived on August 12 to reaffirm “the State of New York’s support in light of the continued threat of attacks by Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” according to the media statement sent out by the governor’s office. Cuomo and his delegation met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, New York students living and learning in Israel and Israeli residents directly affected by the Gaza attacks.
“We are grateful for the Governor’s support and words of encouragement, and proud of the strong relationship we share with the people of New York, which is based on our shared values,” Consul General of Israel in New York, Ido Aharoni said.
“Friends stand together in times of crisis, and I am proud to lead this bipartisan delegation to Israel to reaffirm our friendship and support,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has always had a special relationship with Israel. As Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to threaten Israel, now is the time to deliver that message of solidarity in person.”
Senate Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “During this important moment in history, it is incumbent upon New York to reaffirm its strong and unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas-led attacks and to take whatever action they deem necessary to protect their people from the brutal tactics of homicide bombers. I am pleased to join the Governor, Senate Co-Leader Klein, and Speaker Silver as part of the official New York State delegation visiting Israel this week, and look forward to bringing the good wishes of the people of my district and the state of New York to our nation’s most trusted and reliable ally.” Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey D. Klein said, “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors the State of Israel is not only personally sacred to me but a beacon for the values and rights inherent in a Democracy which I hold dear. I am pleased to join Governor Cuomo, Senate Co-Leader Skelos, and Speaker Silver as part of the official New York delegation, as a show of support that we will always stand in solidarity with Israel.” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Having visited many times, I am delighted to join Governor Cuomo and Senators Skelos and Klein in our mission to Israel to show New York’s solidarity with the people of the Jewish State. As a lifetime supporter of Israel, I cannot overstate the importance of this trip. I am proud that many New York businesses were started there and I believe it is essential that the Empire State’s leaders express our solidarity with Israel and its people, especially during these difficult times. I am certain our visit will reinforce the already strong ties that bind New York and the State of Israel.”Rachel Levy
About the Author: Rachel Levy is a freelance journalist who has written for Jewish publications in New York, New Jersey and Israel.
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