Where Are Their Allies Now?

"You can vigorously oppose Israel's response following the attack on their people, but still be vigorously opposed to terrorism, Hamas, anti-Semitism, and hate in all of its forms."

Good morning, my fellow New Yorkers. In the past few weeks, I have met with Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers and heard about the deep sense of fear being felt by them and in their communities. And I wanted to let you know directly what your state government is doing to ensure that all New Yorkers are safe.

Just yesterday, I sat with Jewish students at Cornell University. After receiving horrific threats on their lives online and hate mail sent to the dorms, they are understandably anxious. Some are fearful now of attending class or eating in the kosher dining hall.

And I promised them that the State of New York would do everything in its power to protect them. Seeing their young faces looking for reassurance that they’ll be okay, that things will get better, reminded me of the emotional toll that comes from being the target of hate speech and hate crimes ā€“ the fear, the anxiety, the stress. Not just for them, but for their parents. Some of whom just dropped their children off for the first time a few months ago.

As a mom, Iā€™m well aware of those very powerful emotions when it comes to protecting our children and grandchildren. And this latest episode is just one example of the escalating incidences that our state has faced. In the three weeks since Hamas first attacked Israel, targeting and killing and kidnapping civilians, including Americans. These heinous acts resulted in a military response by Israel that has cost thousands of lives as well ā€“ some who are terrorists who need to be stopped, others, innocent victims lost in the armed conflict.

For Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers alike, the pain is deep, as they fear not just for the safety of their loved ones in harm’s way, but increasingly, for their own safety here at home. Let me be clear. We cannot allow hate and intimidation to become normalized.

We cannot risk losing our identity as a place that has been long admired, a place known for acceptance. I remind New Yorkers of our unique place in history, the birthplace of women’s rights, civil rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights. All of these were fought for by coalitions, not by just those personally impacted by the injustice, but diverse allies who understood what it meant to be on the outside, to feel isolated or threatened.

They stood together for change and were successful. And when one marginalized group was threatened, there was strength in solidarity. That’s how New York became a place where we don’t just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it. And now, we are called upon to demonstrate that same solidarity. The terrorists who seek to divide and create anarchy are winning every single day that we lose respect for opposing views and voices.

New York has always promised to be the place where you have the freedom to be who you are, live your life, and practice your faith free from persecution. When our shared values have been put to the test in the past, many New Yorkers have done what is right.

Hate crimes against Muslims rose in the aftermath of 9/11 and New Yorkers of all faiths stood up for them. Hate crimes against Asian Americans rose during the pandemic, and New Yorkers of all origins stood up for them. And after George Floyd was murdered, New Yorkers of all races stood up for Black Lives Matter. Today, Jewish New Yorkers are experiencing the greatest increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in decades.

And I must ask, where are their allies now? For you can vigorously oppose Israel’s response following the attack on their people, but still be vigorously opposed to terrorism, Hamas, anti-Semitism, and hate in all of its forms. 

We cannot allow any New Yorker to live in fear. For the day we are willing to accept that, is the day that our moral compass has broken and spun out of control. Let me restate in the strongest of words: Every single New Yorker has a right to feel safe and to be safe as they go about their daily lives, and we must accept nothing less.

As Governor, I reaffirm that there is zero tolerance for hate in our state, and that’s why I’ve been listening and talking and taking action. As I’ve said, I’ve sat with Jewish and Muslim leaders across the state. I’ve spoken to the SUNY and CUNY chancellors and representatives of private universities to share our concerns about the consequences of free speech crossing the line into hate speech by both students and professors and to ensure that they’re following the laws that I just signed in September to require that hotlines for hate and bias reporting are activated, and ensure that complaints are actually filed up upon overall, and just do more to protect our students.

I mobilized our State Police to support local authorities as they increase protection for campuses, synagogues, mosques, and cultural institutions. I traveled to Israel so I could bear witness to the atrocities of October 7, and send a message of support from the United States, and to call for the protection of innocent life, and support the immediate flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and to call for the release of hostages, especially those with the New York connection. For their families are suffering first at the shock of the kidnapping, and they suffer again at the image of their loved one’s photo being ripped down by heartless protesters, as though their lives don’t matter.

This cruelty by New Yorkers against New Yorkers must stop. I’m also making sure that our law enforcement is focused and has the resources to identify and stop criminal behavior and hate crimes. Violators will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We’re also expanding the work of the Social Media Analysis Unit at the New York State Intelligence Center to increase monitoring for school and campus violence threats, as well as credible threats by white supremacists and Nazi organizations.

We’re providing an additional $3 million to help law enforcement agencies expand the use of our state’s red flag law for hate crimes and bias motivated threats all to keep guns out of the hands of those who could do harm to others. We’re also offering an additional $50 million in grants for local law enforcement agencies across the state, as well as $25 million for securing communities against hate crimes grants.

Earlier this year, I asked Lieutenant Governor Delgado and the state’s Hate and Bias Prevention Unit to convene people all over New York. Starting this week, they’ll begin hosting a new series of community circles to give New Yorkers a forum to focus and discuss how they’ve been affected by recent events and help each other cope and heal.

And we will take on the anti-Semitism we have seen on college campuses. The problem didn’t begin with the weeks following the October 7 attacks. It’s been growing on a number of campuses and seen most acutely in the City University of New York. At my request, Judge Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, has agreed to conduct an independent, third-party review of CUNY’s policies and procedures related to anti-Semitism and discrimination. While his assessment will be focused on CUNY, his recommendations will be a roadmap for institutions across the state and the country.

My commitment to your safety is unwavering, but we can’t do it alone. So today I’m calling all New Yorkers to action. Stand up for what’s right. Look out for your fellow New Yorkers. If you see someone being harassed on the street or in your neighborhood, don’t let them be alone. Show your support. We cannot let the fervor and passion of our beliefs devolve into a blind righteousness that cannot see differing viewpoints.

And the safety and security of New Yorkers cannot and will not be threatened without consequences. That is my commitment to each and every one of you ā€“ so now let us commit to restoring a sense of collective empathy and understanding. For those who give in to hate and violence will not define us. We are New Yorkers, and we will continue to set an example for the rest of the country and the world. Thank you.

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