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In Israel, Cuomo Offers Reassurances Amid Anti-Semitic Acts in U.S

6 Mar 2017 1:18 am
By Mike Vilensky 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend responded to an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. with an impromptu trip to Israel and an address vowing no tolerance for such acts and reaffirming New York's close ties with Israel.

"The relationship between the Jewish community and the state of New York is built on mutual support and respect," Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said in remarks before a tour of Israel's Holocaust memorial. "That will not change."

The visit came after the toppling of Jewish headstones at cemeteries around the U.S., and a surge in violent threats against Jewish schools and synagogues, which Mr. Cuomo condemned during a visit to a Manhattan synagogue Saturday and in Jerusalem Sunday.

The trip also provided Mr. Cuomo with a chance to show his diplomatic abilities ahead of his 2018 re-election campaign and amid speculation about a 2020 presidential run. He also visited Israel in 2014 with a bipartisan delegation of New York lawmakers.

The governor met with both Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend. Trailed by an entourage of aides, Mr. Cuomo strolled the streets in Jerusalem and stopped to talk with tourists and Israelis, according to those who traveled with him and television reports.

Howard Zemsky, the president of New York's economic development agency, joined Mr. Cuomo on the trip. He said he spent his time there meeting with Israeli businesses.

"For a country as small as Israel it punches well above its weight in terms of foreign direct investments in New York," Mr. Zemsky said.

Mr. Cuomo's office announced a partnership Sunday between the Genome Center, a science research facility in New York, and Technion, a technology and research university in Israel.

The trip prompted some criticism back home. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, an upstate Republican and frequent Cuomo antagonist, wrote on Twitter that "the people of NY paid for this photo op."

Mr. Cuomo's office had no immediate comment to Mr. McLaughlin's remark.

In 2015 Mr. Cuomo's office first announced it would embark on several "international trade missions" to countries around the world, including Israel, to strengthen economic ties. The governor previously visited Cuba and has promised future visits to Mexico and Canada.

This weekend, the governor flew commercially and didn't stay over in Israel, his spokeswoman said. The office didn't have an estimated price tag for the trip on Sunday.

Before his flight Saturday, Mr. Cuomo met with Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor and rabbi at Manhattan's Park East Synagogue, who commended Mr. Cuomo's actions.

"I pointed out to the governor...that it is important to remember that during the Nazi era we were hounded by government," Mr. Schneier said. "Here in the United States, thank God, we are protected by government."

--Mike Vilensky

Write to Mike Vilensky at mike.vilensky@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 05, 2017 20:18 ET (01:18 GMT)

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