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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced the launch of the “New York-Israel Commission,” which will be responsible for creating a framework to strengthen economic and cultural ties between New York and Israel. Mort Zuckerman will serve as honorary chair of the 22-member commission and Allen Faigin, Malcolm Hoenlein, Linda Mirels, and President, CEO & Commissioner of ESD Howard Zemsky will serve as co-chairs. The Governor made the announcement during his economic development and unity trip to Israel following a meeting with Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem and key international business leaders at the King David Hotel.
“New York and Israel have always shared a deep cultural, social and economic bond and I am proud that we are working to make our partnership stronger than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “These individuals will help continue to strengthen our relationship with the Jewish community and reaffirm our commitment to Israel, and I look forward to seeing the impacts of this partnership resonate across the state and the globe for years to come.”
Co-Chair Malcolm Hoenlein said, "I am pleased to co-chair Governor Cuomo's New York-Israel Commission. This trip is an important step in exploring new ways we can continue to grow and expand the strong ties that exist between New York and Israel. Under Governor Cuomo, New York has shown its unwavering commitment to the Jewish community and this initiative will continue to strengthen both our cultural and economic ties and ensure both partners will grow together well into the future."
Co-Chair Linda Mirels said, “New York and Israel are more than just major economic partners – we share a bond that transcends borders. The New York-Israel Commission will work to strengthen the ties that bind us, as well as open new doors to economic growth, expand cultural exchanges and ensure our best and brightest continue to advance cutting-edge research and technology. I thank Governor Cuomo for his strong partnership over many years, and I look forward to driving new growth and opportunity for our next generation of Israelis and New Yorkers.”
Co-Chair Allen Faigin said, “The positive impact of New York’s strong relationship with Israel on each of our economies is abundantly clear – from exports to imports to jobs. Through the launch of the New York-Israel Commission, Governor Cuomo is once again working to deliver results for our two global powerhouses by further strengthening our economic ties. I applaud the Governor for this leadership during this time of need, and look forward to working together to benefit our communities and set a global example for international cooperation.”
The New York-Israel Commission
The Commission is made up of the following individuals:
• Mort Zuckerman (Honorary Chair) Former CEO, Boston Properties and Owner & Publisher of the New York Daily News and the U.S. News and World Report
• Allen Faigin (Co-Chair), Executive Vice President, Orthodox Union
• Malcolm Hoenlein (Co-Chair), CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations
• Linda Mirels (Co-Chair), Former Chair, UJA Federation of New York
• Howard Zemsky (Co-Chair), President, CEO & Commissioner, Empire State Development
• Stuart Appelbaum, President, RWDSU and President Jewish Labor Committee
• Jack Bendheim, Chairman of the Board of Directors, President & CEO, Phibro Animal Health
• Sara Berman, Founder and Board Chair, Hebrew Language Academy Charter School
• Bob Cohen, Chair of AIPAC
• Alisa Doctoroff, Former President of UJA-Federation of New York
• Abe Foxman, National Director Emeritus, Anti-Defamation League and Vice Chair of the Museum of Jewish Heritage
• Richard Joel, President, Yeshiva University
• George Klein, Vice Chair, Museum of Jewish Heritage
• Michael Miller, CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
• Joe Potasnik, Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis
• Burton Resnick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jack Resnick & Sons, Inc. and Chairman Emeritus, Board of Directors of Development Corporation for State of Israel Bonds
• Bill Rudin, Chairman, Association for a Better New York
• Jeffrey Richard, Executive Director of American Technion Society
• Charles Temel, Senior Vice President, UBS and President of Jewish Community Relations Council, New York
• Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers and Secretary, Jewish Labor Committee
• Sol Werdiger, CEO, Outerwear and Chairman of Agudath Israel
• Howard Zucker, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health
The New York-Israel Commission will work to promote and create opportunities to develop new programs and economic partnerships that celebrate the relationship between New York and the Jewish community. Members of the Commission will be responsible for proposing initiatives to create programs and launch educational and cultural exchanges that meet the goals outlined below to strengthen the partnership between New York State and Israel in several key areas.
Governor Cuomo’s trip to Israel comes on the heels of what appears to be yet another Jewish cemetery vandalism. On Saturday night, it was reported that over 40 tombstones were toppled over at the historic Washington cemetery in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.
According to published reports, however, cemetery officials are ascribing the fact that the tombstones were knocked over to weather related conditions and less than adequate maintenance. This incident still spotlights the wave of anti-Semitism that has manifested itself the United States in the forms of other Jewish cemetery vandalism and a string of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country.
On Sunday. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin accompanied Governor Cuomo in his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem where the Governor laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
After the wreath laying ceremony, both President Rivlin and Governor Cuomo gave brief statements to the media.
Addressing the scourge of contemporary Jew hatred in the boldest of terms, President Rivlin told reporters: “In recent weeks a dark, bad, evil wave of anti-Semitism has struck the United States and just last night another attack on a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn.”
According to an article in the Jewish Press, President Rivlin expressed his gratitude to Governor Cuomo for making the trip to Israel. “Your arrival to Israel at this time is an extremely important signal that the American people and government will not let anti-Semitism win. On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express our appreciation for your visit and for the clear and powerful message you have sent.
“The same appreciation goes to President Donald Trump, who condemned the recent attacks. And we are deeply touched by Vice President Mike Pence who went and gave a hand – and a voice – in fixing the broken gravestones. The fact that so many Christians and Muslims came to aid the Jewish communities sends the clearest message against racism and hatred. It is a sign of great hope and civil courage.”
Governor Cuomo noted in his response, “Yad Vashem is a living reminder of what the Jewish people went through, and what this world allowed them to go through. It reminds us all of the potential danger. In the United States now we have had a rash of anti-Semitism, over 100 acts of anti-Semitism, and I am sad to say also in my state, the state of New York.
“It is disgusting, it is reprehensible, it violates every tenet of the New York State tradition. New York State by its definition is a celebration of diversity, it accepts all who believe in the spirit of inclusion, and who live by discrimination of none. New York’s principles are built on a rock, they will not change, and the political wind will not change them.
“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, more aggressively than any other state in the nation, I am proud to say. We have posted rewards, we have put together a special unit of the State Police – we have made it clear that there will be no tolerance for these acts of anti-Semitism.”
He added, “My sadness is that now another generation of young people has had to experience this pain, a pain that for many young people was only in the history books is now very much in their daily lives. These acts of anti-Semitism have also transpired on college campuses, so an entirely new generation has been exposed.”
He concluded, “This trip has two purposes; number one, while some would weaken the relationship between the people of the State of New York and our Jewish brothers and sisters, the purpose of this trip is to strengthen those relationships through cultural exchange, through economic development partnerships, and we’ll be working on them.
The second purpose of this trip is “Hineni”, I am here, I have been here before, and I will be here again. Our relationship is enduring, the relationship between the Jewish community and the people of the State of New York is built on mutual support and respect, it is built on love, and that will not change, and you have my word on that as a representative of the people of New York.”
By: Fern Sidman