Announcement Made at the Jewish Community Council of New York Dinner Last Night
Governor Cuomo: “I believe true friendship is shown not in the easy times, but in the hard times. In 2002, when suicide bombers were attacking Israeli buses and everybody left, there was no tourism, there were no visitors, I led a New York delegation as a sign of solidarity to go to Israel. In 2014, as Charlie mentioned, when Hamas was bombing Israel, we wrote a letter of support, the Prime Minister invited us to put together a delegation to visit and we headed a bipartisan delegation.”
“It’s these moments that dissolve the gray into black and white and ask each of us individually, where do you stand and who do you stand with? My answer is simple. As long as I am Governor of New York, this state stands 100 percent with Israel and we are proud.”
Yesterday evening, Governor Cuomo delivered remarks at the Jewish Community Council of New York Gala Dinner where he announced he is planning a security and solidarity trip to Israel in light of escalating tension on Israel’s northern border and last night’s attacks.
A transcript of the remarks is available below.
Well thank you very much. Good evening to all of you. It is a good evening, isn’t it? First to Charlie Temelwho just does a great, great job representing JCRC. Let’s give him a big round of applause. Michael Miller, who’s my hero, who always shows up, always working, always advocating. We have Council General Dani Dayan, who is in many ways the personality of Israel. Good to be with you. We have the Comptroller of the State of New York. He’s very important because he has to certify that our books are in order. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. We have our great new young Speaker Corey Johnson and we’re very hopeful for his leadership. We have Bill Weir, who told you he’s from CNN. Good to be with you, Bill.
I have a brother. Every family has one, right? I have a brother who went the other way from the family teaching and the family morality and prophecy and he became a journalist. He’s not a real brother. He was adopted actually. He, I don’t know if you know this Bill, he was, we found him at the doorstep in a basket. He was 16 years old at the time. Always a problem. He couldn’t speak. He had many issues that he had to get over. He’s been struggling. But CNN has been kind to him, I want you to know. I do interviews on his show in the morning. He says nasty things about me after the interview. I don’t get any rebuttal. Chris Cuomo on CNN. He has an anger against me because I’m the older brother. I’m the more accomplished, smarter, more handsome brother. I’m my father’s favorite. My mother’s favorite. He can’t deal with that so he acts out. The problem is he acts out on television about it. He’s never been able to beat me in a game of basketball, and he cheats. But I don’t hold any of that against him. I have love in my heart and I embrace him. And I pity those who work with him, so send him my best, and tell him I’m very complementary about him, otherwise he will attack me on the morning show of CNN.
But good evening to all of you. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s a special pleasure to be with Mr. Stuart Force who you are going to be honoring. Mr. Force is here tonight to honor his son Taylor. Taylor Force was born in Texas and he attended West Point and he led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then went back on a school trip while he was working on his MBA to study the country’s startup industry. And he was stabbed to death tragically by a Palestinian terrorist. Now the death of that idealistic young man is a tragedy for everyone who values freedom and democracy. But Mr. Force, while we’re sorry for his loss and we remember his son in our prayers, he took the negative and he turned it into a positive. Which to me is always the greatest sense of character. And he worked to pass, he worked to pass the Taylor Force Act, which prevents U.S. aid from going to [supporters] of terrorists, which puts the whole world on notice, that if you support terrorists you will pay a price. Big round of applause and we thank you Mr. Force.
And thank you for this great honor tonight. It comes at a very important time. Yesterday we marked the 73rd anniversary of the ending of the 2nd World War in Europe. The evil 12-year reign of the Nazi empire was crushed, the genocidal regime that took the lives of 6 million Jewish people and 50 million people in total was finally destroyed.
This Monday will mark the 70th year since the State of Israel was founded. 11 minutes after Israel was founded, President Truman said this country recognizes the State of Israel. It shouldn’t have taken 11 minutes but we thank him for his prompt action and it was the beginning of a great relationship. And our countries have enjoyed a special relationship ever since, focused on shared heritage, on shared values, shared security concerns and shared commercial interests.
And I’m proud to say that the relationship has its deepest roots right here in the State of New York. Our stories are intertwined. A young Zionist named Emma Lazarus form Manhattan wrote the immortal words that are on our Statue of Liberty. A student named David Ben-Gurion spent two years reading about democratic theory in our public libraries and went on to establish the State of Israel. A Jewish boy from the Lower East Side named Mickey Marcus went to West Point and went on to lead as the first general of the Israeli Defense Forces. The first flag of the State of Israel was sewn by a tailor in Harlem.
New York and Israel are political bodies that share the same DNA. And for that reason we’ve always shared a special relationship. As a born and bred New Yorker, the Jewish people and the culture are embedded in me. My best friends are Jewish, two of my brothers-in-law are Jewish, my father’s stories, as Charlie mentioned, as being the Shabbos goy, my father’s favorite philosophy speaking about Tikkun Olam and the universality of Tikkun Olam and how it really encompassed almost every religion’s teaching and the best path forward for community.
Unfortunately, as history shows us over and over again, political tides turn and our interconnections are tested. The economic anger in New York and across this nation have been politically manipulated to turn American against American. The war on immigrants has turned into a war against diversity. Differences, racial differences, religions differences, lifestyle differences have become a flashpoint. It’s happening even here in the great state of New York. Hate crimes are up 17 percent between 2016 and 2017. Crime primarily against people who are gay and African Americans. The number of neo-Nazi groups nationwide rose 22 percent over the past year. The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the State of New York essentially doubled from 2016 to 2017 to about 400 anti-Semitic incidents here in New York.
And the complexity of the situation continues to grow regardless of your position on the Iranian nuclear agreement, the threat from Tehran against Israel continues and grows. It is these moments that call our character into question. It’s these moments that dissolve the gray into black and white and ask each of us individually, where do you stand and who do you stand with? My answer is simple. As long as I am Governor of New York, this state stands 100 percent with Israel and we are proud.
I believe true friendship is shown not in the easy times, but in the hard times. In 2000 the President, Bill Clinton, was trying to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine and things were tense. I was in President Clinton’s cabinet as HUD Secretary and he sent me to Israel to speak about what we were trying to do. In 2002, when suicide bombers were attacking Israeli buses and everybody left, there was no tourism, there were no visitors, I led a New York delegation as a sign of solidarity to go to Israel. In 2014, as Charlie mentioned, when Hamas was bombing Israel we wrote a letter of support, the Prime Minister invited us to put together a delegation to visit and we headed a bipartisan delegation. Michael Miller was kind enough to join us and it was the trip of a lifetime.
As Charlie mentioned, we went and we visited the tunnels that the Hamas had built. Those tunnels are etched in my mind as a symbol of their desperation and hatred to the people of Israel. These tunnels were miles long, very sophisticated, and for a country that has so little infrastructure, so few resources, they put such tremendous effort and money into building these tunnels, it was just indicative of how their number one priority is to inflict violence on the people of Israel. That was the last time I saw Mr. Peres. President Peres was a friend of my father. My father sent me to see the president when I was in my twenties. My father said he is one of the most insightful leaders on the globe.
And I went and I met President Peres and I was talking to him about terrorism and how Israel deals with constant terrorist attacks. This is when I was in my twenties—four years ago. And the President said, I’ll never forget, “They come for us now because we are close. Because they can get to us. But one day they will figure out how to cross the ocean and then they will come for you. Because the enemy is not Israel. The enemy is freedom and democracy and the way they demonize Israel, they demonize America. And when they figure out the ocean, you will see.” This was 20 years before 9/11. This was before the internet became the transmission line of hate from across the ocean. And now we see how right he was and how profound he was. Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies. They are the same and we have to realize that in this nation. The mutuality, the commonality, the fight for Israel is the fight for America. And we have to realize that.
I also believe partnership is shown by actions. I’m proud to have been the first Governor of the state to stand up and support [the anti-BDS movement]. I’m proud to have advocated it all across the nation and I’m proud that today 23 Governors have joined on to the [anti-BDS] movement. I’m proud that we’ve strengthened ties between Israel and New York. We’re building a beautiful joint venture between Technion and Cornell. It is going to be a world class technology academic center and it’s right here in New York. I’m proud to have established the first New York and Israel commission. It’s first economic development and deepens cultural ties. We’ve created a tourism agreement where the I Love NY campaign is combined with the Israel ministry of tourism to combine for mutual tours that go back and forth.
Two years ago, New York signed an R&D with Israel to develop clean energy together and we are now importing technology from the iron dorm to keep our power grids safe. I’m proud to say that our administration has done more work with Israel than any administration in the history of the state of New York and I’m proud of it. But it’s not enough to say what we did, because we must now redouble our efforts because the challenges facing Israel are only getting worse. Israel’s border from the south, missiles being pointed at Tel Aviv from the North, and tonight we heard that sirens went off in Golan Heights, more incoming missiles and that 20 missiles were launched towards Israel. Hopefully, and the early news is that the iron dome stopped the missiles, but it just shows the level of danger and the imminence of danger. That’s why tonight I plan to contact the leadership of Israel, express our solidarity and support, and tell them as soon as convenient, I plan to lead another delegation to Israel, they’re in danger and New York should be there.
The last trip I took, I went past Yad Vashem, which is as you know such a powerful, powerful symbol and reminder of how cruel people can be. And how ugly humanity can be. And I later read, in honor of the lives we lost and I was with the Rabbi, and I was signing into the book of visitors and said to the Rabbi, what is the best thing that the Governor of New York can say at this moment. And the Rabbi just said, you should sign it and right hineini. Hineini is the word used by Moses, Abraham and Samuel when danger threatened and God called upon them to lead. It means here I am. Here I am. Today, our democracies are threatened. They’re the same forces of fear and ignorance that have plagued humanity since ancient times. What we saw in the Holocaust we should never forget because we always must remember what governments and humanity are capable of. So I ask you tonight to join me in the only response that has ever succeeded hineini. We are here. We are here for the state of Israel and we always will be. Thank you and God bless you.