Governor Cuomo: "At this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I'm going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New York, New York and one of the best parts."
Governor Cuomo: "I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They are domestic terrorists. That's what they are."
Earlier today at the Celebrate Israel Parade, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced he will take a trip to Israel in solidarity with the Jewish community following the end of the legislative session.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Let me please acknowledge people who are with us today. I have my family, I have my mother. I have my daughter Michaela, I have my daughter Cara. Here she is. We have administration officials. We have Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. Howard Zemsky we have with us. We have Guillermo Linares with us. We have special guests, Devorah Halberstam and we pray for her for strength today for her. Devorah runs the Jewish Children's Museum where there was a note put on this week: "Hitler is Coming." Devorah started the museum in honor of her son Ari Halberstam who was killed in an anti-Semitic attack. So we're proud to be with her today. Dani Dayan will be with us. Senator Brad Hoylman, Anna Kaplan and Assembly Member David Weprin and Council Member Ben Kallos is with us also.
We are here to celebrate Israel. And it's more appropriate than usual this year because the blunt truth is there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in this country and in this state. There's been about a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States of America. People have heard about the Pittsburgh horrendous temple attack, in California. But a 57 percent increase. There's been an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the State of New York, 83 percent increase all over the state - upstate, Long Island, Brooklyn, I just mentioned Devorah Halberstam's most recent attack.
Cancer of the American body politics has been the new way. Cancer because one cell attacks another. When you have Jewish people being attacked, gays, members of the LGBTQ community being attacked, with anti-Semitic sayings just last night, anti-Muslim, anti-African-American. This is a cancer of hate that is all throughout our country and unfortunately even in our State of New York.
There was a time when we could have political differences, but it didn't turn into hate. We've always had political differences, back to our founding fathers we had political differences. But we tolerate them and we understand them. We can have political differences about Israel and Palestine, that's what makes democracy that debate. But when did the strongest four letter word in America become hate instead of love? That's what's most troubling. And that is what is now going on. These anti-Semitic attacks are personal to the Cuomo family. We have many friends who we grew up with who are of the Jewish faith. I have two brothers in law who are Jewish, my mother has two sons in law, my daughters have two uncles - Howard and Ken - who are Jewish. These anti-Semitic attacks, the Cuomo family takes personally. Every family in New York takes personally.
And I want the people of this state to be clear: anti-Semitism is not just wrong and immoral and unethical and anti-American; it is also illegal. And we will enforce the law to the fullest extent and you have my word on that.
As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I'm going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New York, New York and one of the best parts.
Thank you all for being here today. Any questions for myself or any of my mishpucha?
Question: I know you had ordered the State Police to investigate the incident at the Jewish museum. Is there anything else from the state perspective that you can do to try to combat this wave of anti-Semitism?
Governor Cuomo: We have increased the hate crime penalties all across the state. We are working on more understanding, more communication, but we're also going to enforce the law because it has reached a critical point. Eighty-three percent increase in the state of New York. Twenty-two percent increase in neo-Nazi groups. And by the way, I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They are domestic terrorists. That's what they are. And this is not part of the democracy. They spread hate, they spread violence, they attack and every politician—Democrat, Republican—should condemn these neo-Nazi groups and call them for what they are.
Question: Are you saying these comments across from Trump's tower—is that just a coincidence?
Governor Cuomo: That's a coincidence. I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out.
Question: [Inaudible] Pride flag being burned—
Governor Cuomo: Same thing. I call it a cancer that is spreading in this country. Why a cancer? Because cancer—one cell in the body attacks other cells and that's what you're seeing in this country right now. You're seeing white versus black, Christian versus Muslim, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ the other night. This is destroying America. Because America is diversity and once we start attacking each other for our diversity, that defeats America and who we are. We are a pluralistic society. Emma Lazarus, a great Jewish New Yorker who wrote the words for the Statue of Liberty. That's the founding of this nation. George Washington visited a synagogue in Rhode Island and said, the Jewish people are here, free to celebrate their religion. It was freedom of religion. And now we are demonizing each other's religious preferences? This is not America. This is not who we are. And we're going to make the opposite statement in the state of New York. Let's march, thank you.