By Anav Silverman
A contingent of New York government officials and businessmen are spending three days in Israel on a unity visit this week. The bipartisan delegation, which includes Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, arrived in Israel on August 12 and plan to leave on August 14. During the trip, they will be meeting with Israeli officials and citizens in the hard-hit South.
On Wednesday, the group, which also included fashion designer Kenneth Cole and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report Mortimer Zuckerman, met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They have also met with Israelis affected by Hamas terror, bringing good wishes from the state of New York to “our nation’s most trusted and reliable ally.”
“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 stated. “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.”
Senator Skelos further added, “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.”
During the meeting with PM Netanyahu, Governor Cuomo, who has visited Israel three times in the past, told the Israeli prime minister, “We know that you are going through a very difficult time right now and that Israel is going through a very difficult time, and that is precisely why we are here—because we want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.”
“Unfortunately in New York, we’ve had a rude awakening to the pain and suffering that terror can cause, in 9/11, and so we have a special sensitivity in our hearts for what you are going through right now,” said the governor, citing the terror tunnels and constant rocket fire on Israeli communities.
New York is home to more than 1.7 million Jews, representing the largest Jewish community in the world outside Israel.
The Israeli prime minister expressed his appreciation for the New York group’s visit, which had come to Israel following an invitation from the Consul General of Israel in New York, Ido Aharoni. “I thank you for coming here and standing on the right side of the narrow divide,” said Netanyahu. (Tazpit News Agency) ϖ