This morning, a small army of elected officials and Jewish advocates amassed on Second Avenue, not far from the United Nations, to press their case that Israel is completely justified in its forceful reaction to the rocket attacks against it. In New York City, of course, support for Israel is an almost universally acknowledged political principle with very few deviations. Indeed, so many elected officials crowded together that they had trouble squeezing into the allotted area.
Naturally, all four of the likely Democratic candidates for mayor were present and more than eager to burnish their foreign policy credentials in light of the burgeoning international controversy. In order to profess their unyielding belief in the righteousness of Israel’s military response in Gaza, each pol described personally visiting the Jewish State, three of them to the exact same small town. We decided to simply transcribe their remarks in the order that they spoke.
Comptroller John Liu:
“I think we all hope and pray that peace can be found between Israel and Palestine. I thank the president for engaging in this and wish our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the best in resolving this matter before it gets any worse. It was just a couple years ago that I had the chance to visit Israel, and among many sites, to spend some time in S’derot. To see the heaps of the remains of rockets that had been launched into that small town. To see where children have to go to school nearby the closest bunker where they are taught that they have seconds to run into those bunkers as soon as they hear those sirens go off. To understand that those children have to live with that kind of state of mind even as they are being educated for their future, and indeed the future of Israel and the world. So as a father, it’s just unimaginable that any kids, of any people of any age, have to live under those conditions. Which is precisely why Israel not only has the right, but it has the obligation, to protect its people against this kind of senseless attack and violence. Israel should do what it needs to do. It has our support here in New York City to do what it needs to do to protect its people. That is the way that it should be done and we stand fully in support of Israel’s right to defend itself. Long live Israel! Am Yisrael Chai!“
Council Speaker Christine Quinn:
“New York is Israel and Israel is New York. We are bound together as brothers and sisters in our struggle to be free of terror, to be free of being targets, to live in the way we want to live, to practice our lives and our religion in the way that we want to. The issue of Israel becomes complicated at times in the international community and I simply do not understand that. To me it is crystal clear: Israel is the only democracy in this region. Israel is the only beacon of true freedom in the Middle East and she, like every other country in the world, has the obligation to protect her citizens … On a trip we took, we were in S’derot, and while we were visiting with the mayor, one of those sirens went off and we had those 15 seconds you hear about to get to the place in City Hall that was safest from the rocket that was coming in….Thank God it didn’t kill anyone but this is a town that on a regular basis is hit by these rockets. And on far too many days, we aren’t as lucky as that day that we were there in that city hall. I’ve been through this experience once … Think of what that’s like on a regular basis. Think about what that’s like for a child. We’re here today with a clear message: Israel must protect herself. The international community must rally behind that right of Israel, because without Israel protecting herself, there will never, ever be peace. So, on behalf of all New Yorkers, we stand in the strongest solidarity possible with the people of Israel, who have always stood with us in our darkest hours, and we will never, ever walk away from them.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:
“It’s this simple: Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel is our closest ally. This is not even grey, it’s abundantly clear. I’ve been to S’derot, I’ve been to places in Israel that have had rockets raining down on them for years. And they’ve had to live an unacceptable life. They’ve had to live with the fear that at any moment, their homes, their schools, their businesses could be attacked. I went to the child play center in S’derot, which is literally built as a bombproof building because it is the only way that children in that community in southern Israel could know that they’d be safe during daytime hours and live any modicum of a normal life. No nation would put up with that. No nation should have to put up with that. Israel must do what it must do to protect itself. We will stand with Israel every step of the way. We hope and pray that somehow peace can be regained here at this moment, but the only way that will happen is if we stand in total solidarity with Israel and Hamas understands that we will be shoulder-to-shoulder every step of thew way.”
2009 Nominee Bill Thompson:
“The faces that you’ve seen at this podium are many different faces, from different backgrounds. But we all have one thing in common: Yes, we’re New Yorkers, but we all stand with Israel. We stand with Israel because Israel is our friend. We stand with Israel because Israel stands for principle. We stand with Israel because, again, Israel is under attack. Time and time and time again, we’ve stood with Israel and the people of Israel. I was with in Israel … the thing that I remember the most, and it was in the middle of the Intifada in 2002, young people who went about their lives day after day even though they realized–some of the young girls they talked about, when they did sleepovers, taking pictures of each other in case something happened to one, so they’d remember those who might have died. Those who got on buses and went to work each and every day while terrorists blew those buses up. Their resolve never wavered. They went and got stronger and stronger and stronger. Those of us in New York, as Israel continues to come under attack and the missiles rain down, need to continue to show them that our resolve only strengthens, that we will not waver, that our support for Israel will grow. And that more and more and more faces will stand with us, in saying, ‘Never back down to terrorists.’ Israel needs to be stronger each and every day. So I’m happy to stand here with so many others, as we say, ‘We support and stand with Israel and will continue to do that. Forever.’”