One less Zionist asshole
Cuomo, said Ido Aharoni, Israel’s former consul-general to New York, belongs to the “moderate wing of the Democratic Party, like his late father” Mario Cuomo.
The Cuomo family, Aharoni said, has a “longstanding commitment” to Israel and “an excellent relationship with the Jewish community.”
According to Aharoni, Cuomo “is instinctively pro-Israel.”
For instance, Aharoni said, in 2016 Cuomo was the first US governor to issue an executive decree preventing his state from doing business with companies boycotting Israel.
“I am signing an Executive Order that says very clearly we are against the BDS movement,” Cuomo tweeted at the time.
“If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”
“Everytime I needed the governor, he was there,” said Aharoni, who served as consul-general from 2010 to 2016.
Aharoni said he met the governor on many occasions, and contrasted that with his relationship with New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, whom Aharoni never met.
Cuomo, Aharoni said, “understands that in New York, especially in New York City, Israel is a domestic story.
It is part of internal politics in New York.
That means he must be knowledgeable, sensitive, and must pay attention to what is happening in Israel.”
Although this would seem like a no-brainer in a state with as big a Jewish population as New York, Aharoni said this is something not shared by all state-wide politicians, such as Gillibrand.
“She was exactly the opposite,” Aharoni said. “She was never there when we needed her.
“I met with [New York’s senior senator] Chuck Schumer countless times, I met with state-wide officials many times – but Gillebrand, never. What does that mean?
That she is not attentive to the needs of the community, that she is not there. Cuomo was exactly the opposite.”
That attentiveness was behind a “solidarity and trade mission” he made to Israel last June, in what he said was a response to the rise of antisemitism in the US.
“I’m very close and New Yorkers are very close to Israel.
There has been a rash of antisemitism all across this country – the synagogue shootings, etc.
We’ve had it in this state, all across this state, and it’s repugnant to what New Yorkers believe and feel,” Cuomo said before that visit.
“I hope there is a message of solidarity and partnership in my trip to Israel and I hope the Jewish community here is confident in this state’s position vis-a-vis Israel.”
During that visit, Cuomo proclaimed his “love” for Israel and the Jewish community “because the Jewish community is part of my family, both literally and figuratively.”
Two of Cuomo’s sisters are married to Jews, including one – Maria – married to the fashion designer Kenneth Cole, whose uncle – Jack Stein – was a former president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a figure who played a key role in convincing former US president Richard Nixon to send immediate military aid to Israel after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Cuomo’s 2019 whirlwind trip, of just over 24 hours, was not his first solidarity trip to Israel.
He made a similar trip in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.
Aharoni, who accompanied Cuomo on that visit, said the governor was the only sitting elected official who made an official trip to Israel at that time.
New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg also came during that period, but that was a personal – rather than official – visit.
“He insisted on going to Gaza in the middle of the fighting.
We took him to the [Hamas terror] tunnels, he went underground to see the tunnels first hand,” Aharoni said.
During that 36-hour visit, Cuomo met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhau and said after that meeting that the purpose of the delegation he bought was “to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, we want to stand in solidarity with you… we understand what you are facing and we support your right to defend your people against terror.”
Cuomo, who was at the time on his fourth visit to Israel and was in the midst of a reelection campaign, said: “As New Yorkers, we have many connections, family connections, cultural connections, historic connections, so our relations go very deep.
And I speak for all New Yorkers when I say: We stand in solidarity with Israel. The fight that you fight is the fight against terror. Unfortunately in New York, we’ve had a rude awakening to the pain and suffering that terror can cause in 9/11.
So we have a special sensitivity in our hearts for what you’re going through now.”
The chances of the Democratic Party turning to Cuomo now, after a long and bruising campaign that looks as if it has winnowed the candidates down to Biden, are slim. Nevertheless, asked how a possible Cuomo presidency – now or perhaps in the future – would be for Israel, Aharoni replied with one word: “phenomenal.”