New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a lightning visit to Israel over the weekend for “economic development and unity” at a time of rising anti-Semitic threats in the U.S.
At a meeting with Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister for public security and strategic affairs, Cuomo said Israeli security forces have raised protection techniques to an “art form,” including their response to “lone wolf” attacks.
We have members of the State Police here and my public security people…. And what the Minister has been able to do is state-of-the-art.
First, the use of technology is really unbelievable and how they’re using technology and cameras and detection devices as sophisticated as I’ve seen anywhere, which I think is something that we can learn from. Even if their police officers have to deal with the intensity of those situations without escalating the situation, is also an art form. There are constant flare-ups in Jerusalem that if not handled properly can then just escalate and escalate.
Here’s his praise for Israel’s response to “lone wolf” attacks.
Probably the greatest single challenge to law enforcement going forward is what we refer to as the lone wolf. A situation where you couldn’t have detected it with intelligence, you didn’t have a prior record, prior experience because there was no prior record or prior experience. How do you start to protect people from that lone wolf? We’ve dealt with that on a limited basis in New York. I hope it remains limited but I fear that it’s going to increase as time goes on so I think there’s a lot that we can learn from what our colleagues are doing here. And I think there’s a lot that we can accomplish by working together and I look forward to it.
Cuomo is referring to the so-called “intifada of knives” over the last year and a half: Palestinian individuals producing knives, often at checkpoints, and in some cases trying to stab soldiers. The assailants have been shot dead in overwhelming numbers: 248 killed, including 55 minors, according to this compilation by Middle East Monitor. Amnesty International accused Israel of a “shocking disregard” for life in its approach to these alleged attacks.
“The cases of unlawful killings outlined in this memorandum reveal a shocking disregard for human life and pose some serious questions to the Israeli authorities. Those responsible must be brought to justice to ensure this cycle of unlawful killings ends.”
Cuomo made a defiant statement in Jerusalem: the more people try to drive Israel and New York apart, the closer the two get.
We believe this is an opportune time to enhance the relationship, because to the extent anyone believes they can separate the New York people from the Jewish community or the New York people from Israel, they are sadly mistaken; and those attempts have actually fueled a closer relationship and a more energized relationship, with a very important dimension, which is the economic and cultural ties.
He announced a new NY-Israel commission that will foster economic ties, including anti-terrorism cooperation:
By connecting New York law enforcement with their Israeli counterparts, the Commission will help New York learn from one of the world’s leaders in counter-terrorism operations. Additionally, the Commission can support a conversation on division and anti-Semitism to ensure that both governments are doing everything they can to fight intolerance and crack down on hate crimes.
Cuomo said anti-semitism has surged on college campuses, by which he would seem to refer to the BDS movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (which he has fought directly).
Cuomo also toured Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and emphasized the main purpose of the trip: “while some would weaken the relationship with 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 culture exchange and economic development partnerships.”
Cuomo’s commission includes a number of ardent Israel supporters in Jewish leadership, including Bob Cohen, the chairman of the Israel lobby group AIPAC; Randi Weingarten of the AFT (a leader of anti-Trump efforts); Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Mort Zuckerman of the Daily News, Sara Berman, the charter school entrepreneur and daughter of Michael Steinhardt; and Abe Foxman. Also on the commission is Richard Joel, the Yeshiva University president, who stood by quietly while Sheldon Adelson called on President Obama to nuke Iran.