NYC Pols React, Unevenly, to Mideast Violence

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New York City—a tourist magnet and center of global finance boasting a large immigrant population, a number of major international organizations and a history of being targeted by foreign terrorists—is a place where international politics and local sentiment regularly run into each other on the sidewalk.

This is especially true when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs. Rudy Giuliani once threw PLO leader Yasser Arafat out of a concert at Lincoln Center. Mike Bloomberg had to retreat to a Sderot bomb shelter on a mayoral visit to Israel. Shortly after taking office, Bill de Blasio told a pro-Israel lobby group he saw defending the Jewish state as one of his duties as mayor.

Given that history and the barbaric nature of the crime, it made perfect sense for New York pols to lament the brutal killing of three Israeli teenagers late last month.

De Blasio tweeted that he was “saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic murders.” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, noting Brooklyn's connections to the teens, said, “Protecting innocent children is paramount; it is a fight we are engaged in from Nigeria to Nostrand Avenue, from Israel to India Street. I urge the international community to demand that justice prevail.”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a press release: “This deplorable crime, the murder of innocent children, has no place in any civilized society. My heart goes out to the families and friends of these boys as they deal with unimaginable grief and sorrow, and I stand with Israel in demanding that those responsible be brought to justice.” And State Senate candidate and former city comptroller John Liu released a statement saying, “The world's fears have been realized as the horror of this unspeakable tragedy has come to light.”

But there were fewer public statements about the apparent retaliation killing of Mohammed Abu Khudair, a teenager who was abducted and burned alive in an attack that the Israeli government has condemned.

Some politicians, like Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander, have expressed disgust over the alleged revenge killing. At least one stirred anger by doing so: When Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito referred to “Palestine” in a statement condemning the tit-for-tat violence, she came under fire from people who see that word as an instrument of anti-Israel propaganda. Many other leaders, however, were quiet.

After inquiries by this week, a spokesman for Adams said the borough president had condemned the Abu Khudair killing more than once, including at a July 4th event.

On Wednesday, Liu's campaign produced a statement that read: “Senseless violence—whether killings or revenge killings—cannot be justified under any circumstances. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all of these innocent victims.”

Yesterday, Stringer's office offered the following: “The murders of the three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fremkel and Gilad Sha'er, and the subsequent killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir were abhorrent acts that have no place in our society.”

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