Visiting Jerusalem, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday decried the recent wave of anti-Semitic acts in the United States as “reprehensible” and vowed his state was employing “extraordinary measures” to combat the phenomenon.
During his quick trip to Israel, Cuomo made his first comments following the toppling of headstones at a Jewish cemetery this weekend in Brooklyn.
It followed a series of vandalism attacks at Jewish cemeteries, including one in Rochester, New York, and more than 120 bomb threats to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since early January. In New York City alone, ant-Semitic hate crimes nearly doubled in the past year.
Cuomo has described his one-day visit as an act of solidarity in the face of the uptick of anti-Semitic incidents in the US.
Speaking at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum, Cuomo said the incidents “violated every tenet of the New York State tradition.” He said the state has posted rewards and put together a special police unit to address the incidents.
“New York State by its definition is a celebration of diversity, it accepts all, we believe in the spirit of inclusion and we live by discrimination of none. New York’s principles are built on a rock. They will not change and the political winds will not change them,” he said, alongside President Reuven Rivlin at the museum’s Hall of Remembrance.
Hineni: I am here. I have been here before. I will be here again. Our relationship is enduring.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 5, 2017
“You must live by the rules that an abuse to one, and an affront to one, is an affront to all, and that large fires start as small fires, and we must have zero tolerance for any abuse or discrimination on any fellow human being,” Cuomo said.
“To the people of Israel, I say that these acts of anti-Semitism will not be tolerated. New York State has reacted aggressively with extraordinary measures.”
Rivlin in his remarks underscored to Cuomo that the US must always remain a safe place for Jews.
“In the time of the Holocaust, few places were safe for Jews. The United States was a rare island of safety. We can never, ever, let that change,” Rivlin said.
The president said Cuomo’s visit to Israel was “an extremely important signal that the US people and government will not let anti-Semitism win.”
Cuomo’s trip comes just days after New York police announced that anti-Semitic incidents were up 94 percent in New York City over the same time last year.
The figure is part of a 55% increase overall in the number of hate crimes in the city as compared to the same time last year.
Through the first two months of 2017 and as of last week, 35 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, compared to 18 through February 2016
The New York Police Department’s hate crimes division on Sunday said it was investigating the toppled headstones at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn.
About 100 headstones were recently overturned in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. That came about a week after a similar crime in Missouri. In Indiana, an apparent gunshot fired into a synagogue Tuesday has drawn the attention of the FBI.
Cuomo, who last visited Israel in 2014, said his brief visit would also focus on economic development, technology and security collaboration with Israeli leaders. The expedition is paid for with state funds through a 2015 initiative for trade missions to Mexico, Canada, Italy, China, and Cuba.
Cuomo, who returns to New York Monday, will also meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tour the Western Wall and attend a security briefing at Jerusalem’s Old City Police Headquarters. He’ll also host a New York State-Israel Economic Development working lunch with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
JTA contributed to this report.