November 12, 2023
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks on Hate and Antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee Board of Governors Meeting

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks on Hate and Antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee Board of Governors Meeting

Governor Hochul: “The fear that has been unleashed on an entire community is beyond reprehensible to me as the Governor of this state. And I will call it out every chance I get…I'll leave no stone unturned to make sure that you feel protected when you're worshiping, dropping children off at yeshiva, walking down the street, or taking a subway here in New York. Every single citizen of this state is entitled to have that sense of security. We owe that to them.”

Hochul: “This is the State of New York. We have always prided ourselves on inclusiveness and diversity…We always stand together. That's the beauty of New York. And I'm calling on New Yorkers to rise up once again. Peacefully protest, disagree, have a difference of opinion. That's alright. But don't treat each other so harshly and so cruelly because I know we're better than that. I refuse to believe that we're not better than that.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks on hate and antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee Board of Governors meeting.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Thank you, Ted. Yes, we were colleagues in Congress. Boy, are we glad we are where we are right now. First of all, what an honor to be here among many New Yorkers, but also people from all across this country. Robert Lapin, the Chair of AJC, thank you for all you're doing in a time when leadership truly matters. Michael Tichnor, the President of AJC, and of course, as I mentioned, Ted Deutch.

Your voices are more essential now than ever before, to stand up and rise up and to work with us in government and law enforcement to do whatever we can to protect the Jewish communities not just across America, but particularly here in New York where I brag about this all the time, but I'm the Governor of the state that has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. So, we feel a special responsibility to protect so many New Yorkers from the disturbing incidences that seem to be unrelenting. Just this past weekend, just this weekend, what we saw Friday night at Grand Central Station, the vandalism in our streets, vandalism of police vehicles, smashed windows.

I will support anyone's right to peacefully protest on any issue, anytime, but once you cross that line and become destructive and violent, there must be repercussions. And I'll continue to ensure that is the case every time it happens.

Even here at Central Synagogue, the fear created when threats are called in. It doesn't matter that they don't materialize, the fear has already been struck, that you don't really know. And that also must end. And I want to make sure that everyone knows that here in New York, I have been so laser-focused on this issue.

My number one job is to protect public safety, full stop. And whatever I can do, including adding $75 million more for public safety initiatives, security and individuals to protect yeshivas and synagogues and other places of worship. Money for local law enforcement to beef up their efforts, not just here in New York City, but all across the State of New York. A hotline, a dedicated phone number every single complaint, any incidents of a hate crime or violence will be run down immediately, and that's my commitment to you as well. It's not just a place to leave a message, it will be responded to by our police.

Also, what's going on our campuses, shocking in its scale. I've never seen the intentional infliction of threats and intimidation from one student to another that I've ever seen in my life. I was a student activist. We protested the administration. We protested government policies. We never made it personal against each other. And that has to stop.

And as you mentioned, Ted, what happened on the Cornell campus – I went there immediately. As you mentioned, I lost my father, I just had buried him that weekend. I was unpacking on Sunday night and received the word that at Cornell University, in a beautiful, safe environment in Upstate New York was now under siege as well with horrific threats – I'm not just saying idle threats, this was bringing a weapon of mass destruction to a campus to slaughter Jewish students.

I went immediately. I called up the President. I said, “I'll be there for breakfast. We're going to meet those young people.” Because I'm a mom too. And I could not imagine the fear that every other parent was having about the safety of their children on this particular campus and all the campuses.

So, I pledged to them that we will find the perpetrator. And I was really proud that the State Police captain that I left in charge, that we had at this roundtable, he himself was Jewish. He had family in Israel in harm's way. So, that made a difference to those young students. They had someone who understood what they were going through. And that perpetrator was found, and he's right now sitting in a jail waiting for his day in court. That's what happens to people who cross the line.

I saw a number of you at some of the events I did earlier this year, earlier than October 7. We gathered people. We talked about the need for Holocaust education in our schools. We talked about more security grants. We talked about what was happening in college campuses already before October 7. Hate crimes and antisemitism were on the rise. Just in the last month, antisemitic incidences, complaints, reporting – it's up 217 percent. Now that's on top of prior increases.

The fear that has been unleashed on an entire community is beyond reprehensible to me as the Governor of this state. And I will call it out every chance I get, but not with just idle threats. I can stand here and tell you that I'll leave no stone unturned to make sure that you feel protected when you're worshiping, dropping children off at yeshiva, walking down the street, or taking a subway here in New York. Every single citizen of this state is entitled to have that sense of security. We owe that to them.

And when that is violated, when people cross the line, they need to know who they're messing with here. It's too late to say we're not going to do this anymore. It has to stop today. It must stop today because people should not live in fear.

So, with our State Police on high alert since the very beginning, I want you to know that tomorrow morning I'm convening a meeting of all the top law enforcement individuals, their agencies, federal, state, local, New York City Police, MTA runs our subways, the transit police, State Police and everyone are gathering in my office because I said, “I want to see you Monday morning. I want to know what you're doing. Are you doing everything you humanly can? Is there more that can and should be done?”

And I'll report to the press after that meeting because I want to hear directly from those that are on the front lines to protect all of you. And I'll let you know what the outcome is, but I have a lot of ideas as well. I have a lot more ideas. But what led to this, the sense of urgency I feel, is also driven by the fact of what I saw and experienced in Israel on that trip just a week and a half after the nightmare of October 7.

I can't say I was prepared for what I saw. I don't think anyone on my staff, all my young Jewish staffers who went with me, looking forward to this opportunity. The images I saw will never leave me. What I experienced, talking to families, just waiting words of a hostage that had been taken, a young father tells me. He doesn't know what happened to his 8-year-old, his 4-year-old, his 10-year-old, and his beautiful young wife. He goes, “I have no idea what happened to them.”

Another man told me, he's probably about my age – he was so joyful to go to San Francisco to meet his brand-new grandbaby. But while he was there, his wife, who was too ill to travel, was found murdered in the arms of their other son, who was trying to protect his mother. He was so shaken. I can't get his face out of my mind.

I talked to other people still awaiting the outcome, also those who knew the outcome – that they had been slaughtered. We went to a hotel when we first landed. Traveling through the night, went right to a hotel where people were being housed from a kibbutz that had been decimated, absolutely flattened.

In the hallway of the lobby was an eraser board with all these markings on it, and I said, “What's that? What's that?” It was the names of 40 people who were to be buried that day from this tiny community. I went to the kibbutz the next day, Kfar Aza, about a mile in from Gaza. We could see the smoke in the distance. You could hear the gunshots. It was like an armed camp. We had to wear the flak jackets. We went in armored vehicles. But I said, “I needed to go see firsthand of what we're talking about so I could relay it back home. I want to bear witness because there'll be deniers just like the Holocaust.”

There will be deniers. And I want to say, “I saw it with my own eyes.” I heard the sounds. I smelled the smell of death permeating that community, a place that I described to others as being a place where the most peace-loving people would live, in a kibbutz. You just want a good life, take care of each other. This one building I walked into, a former home, it was basically flattened. But you could see on the remaining walls, stained with blood, the mattress is stained with blood.

This one family had a tradition every year to celebrate the end of Sukkot, and the family got together, the family from all over gathered there. Every day on that day after, at four o'clock, they'd fly kites. And what were they doing flying kites? They sent him over into Gaza because these peaceful people wanted to send a message that we see you, we hear you, we're here for you.

It was just a simple message of love, a tradition for many years. When I walked in there, that 4 o'clock calm never came for that family because the assault occurred at 7AM. By 8AM, most of the community was wiped out. And on the floor, I saw those same kites, colorful kites, all covered in blood.

Even the general who was describing to me was choked up. He could barely tell me the story. People whose lives will never be the same because of the barbarous actions of a terrorist organization known as Hamas. And now the reports are coming out that they wanted to do so much more. The intelligence that's being revealed today, shocking in its scale. Shocking.

Now someone can disagree with Israel's response. And I think they have a right to protect themselves in future attacks. But you can disagree with that if you want. But why can't you also condemn terrorism, the slaughter of innocent people – babies, children, grandmas. They're not inconsistent.

You can disagree with the government and what they do. But how can you not stand up and condemn what Hamas has done? I'll do that. More people need to do that because that's exactly what happened. A terrorist organization hell bent on the destruction of Israel. And it's in the United States’s interest to cut off the head of that snake right now because it will spread.

And with Hezbollah to the North – when Ted and I served in Congress, I was on the Armed Services Committee as well as Homeland Security. We had intelligence briefings on where Hezbollah is operational in North America. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security that this is happening half a world away. We must have our guard up. This community, more than others, knows how sinister terrorists who are dedicated to your destruction can be. We saw it on 9/11. They're wildly successful. That's why we must be so vigilant and stand together.

And what pains me so much is not just how my friends feel so under siege, in a sense betrayed, because they have been there for so many others, for so many causes. We need to speak as one voice. This is the State of New York. We have always prided ourselves on inclusiveness and diversity. We celebrate that diversity. It's what makes us so fascinating. And when one group stands up and raises their arms or their voices to another, the other groups need to stand up in solidarity.

It happened during the Civil Rights Movement, and George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ Movement and all the fights and the attacks on transgender young people. And when Donald Trump called for the Muslim ban to no longer let anyone from a Muslim country come in through our airports, thousands of people responded. Attorneys went out to the airport to try and do what they could. We always stand together. That's the beauty of New York. And I'm calling on New Yorkers to rise up once again. Peacefully protest, disagree, have a difference of opinion. That's alright. But don't treat each other so harshly and so cruelly because I know we're better than that.

I refuse to believe that we're not better than that. This is a moment in history where we be judged by our reaction to this crisis. I stand with Israel's right to defend itself. But as I told the leadership there when I arrived, “You must do everything you can to protect innocent lives and the lives of the Palestinians when you respond. You must protect them. You must make sure humanitarian aid gets through because we have to be better than them. We have to be better than them.”

And so, we are in solidarity here. We all agree, we have a right – a right to be safe and secure in the streets of New York, in our rural areas, in our college campuses. That is a God given right to every single person who calls this country their home, but definitely here in the State of New York because I'll fight and protect it.

I'll report out to you on the outgrowth of our meeting tomorrow. I feel confident that we'll come up with new ideas. I want ideas from all of you as well. You have seen what is going on out there, but if you have ideas on what else the State of New York can be doing to protect the citizens of all religions, you let me know.

I want to know because I will not stop until every single person has that right that I say is theirs, and that is to be safe here in the State of New York. Thank you very much, appreciate you listening.

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