Andrew Cuomo (L), Governor of New York, stands next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as he speaks to members of the media following a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 5, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The rash of antisemitic incidents that has hit the US is “disgusting” and “reprehensible,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Yad Vashem on Sunday during a whirlwind one-day unity trip to Israel.
Cuomo said there have been some 100 acts of antisemitism in the US in recent weeks, including in New York, something he said “violates every tenet of the New York State tradition.”
“New York State by its definition is a celebration of diversity, it accepts all who believe in the spirit of inclusion and who live by discrimination of none. New York’s principles are built on a rock, they will not change, and the political wind will not change them,” he said.
Cuomo, who governs a state with the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, said New York has “put together a special unit of the state police” to deal with the issue, and has “reacted aggressively with extraordinary measures, more aggressively than any other state in the nation” to the attacks.
“We have made it clear that there will be no tolerance for these acts of antisemitism,” he said.
Cuomo’s words came just hours after a number of headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn were found overturned.
“My sadness is that now another generation of young people has had to experience this pain,” he said. “A pain that for many young people was only in the history books is now very much in their daily lives.
These acts of antisemitism have also transpired on college campuses, so an entirely new generation has been exposed.”
Cuomo toured Yad Vashem and took part in a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance with President Reuven Rivlin.
“This trip has two purposes,” he said.
“Number one, while some would weaken the relationship between the people of the State of New York and our Jewish brothers and sisters, the purpose of this trip is to strengthen those relationships through cultural exchange [and] through economic development partnerships, and we’ll be working on them.”
“The second purpose of this trip is ‘Hineini.’ I am here, I have been here before, and I will be here again,” he added.
Rivlin thanked Cuomo for his solidarity visit, saying that it is “an extremely important signal that the US people and government will not let antisemitism win.”
Rivlin also said Israel appreciates US President Donald Trump’s condemnation of the attacks, as well as words and actions taken by Vice President Mike Pence, who visited a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis that was vandalized.
The president noted that during the Holocaust, the US was a “rare island of safety” for the Jews. “We can never, ever, let that change,” he added.
Cuomo arrived early Sunday morning, on a 24-hour trip that was only announced on Wednesday, and which his office called an “economic development and unity trip.” In addition to visiting Yad Vashem, he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, as well as with business leaders.
During the meeting with business leaders, Cuomo announced the launch of a 22-member New York-Israel Commission to create a framework for strengthening economic and cultural ties.
“New York and Israel have always shared a deep cultural, social and economic bond and I am proud that we are working to make our partnership stronger than ever before,” he said.
Cuomo was last in Israel in 2014, on a visit aimed at showing solidarity with Israel during Operation Protective Edge.