De Blasio: NYC is Center of the Jewish Universe
Photo by Edwin J. Torres/ NYC Mayor's Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio, running for reelection in November, touted his strong pro-Israel credentials in front of a large Jewish crowd at City Hall’s annual Jewish Heritage reception, held in the garden of Gracie Mansion in Manhattan on Tuesday.
“There is a lot of history that teaches us why the Jewish people have needed a homeland, and finally having a homeland, deserve to know that that homeland will be protected for the long haul,” De Blasio said in a speech sometimes peppered with Jewish and Yiddish phrases. “This is why I oppose the BDS movement so strongly. And I say this as a proud progressive and I say this as a proud Democrat.”
“There is nothing right and just about a movement that seeks to undermine the economy of a place that has been a refuge for the oppressed,” he emphasized, reiterating a strong stance he’s taken on the matter on numerous occasions. “It’s as simple as that. Israel was created to answer a history of oppression going back thousands of years. The BDS movement – and this is what bothers me even more – the BDS movement is actually trying to undermine one of the things that could lead to peace, which is economic opportunity for all – in Israel and in the region. That’s part of the way forward, and we cannot let BDS take away one of the things that could actually lead to peace for everyone.”
In his remarks, De Blasio said that during a recent lunch with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in New York, “I reminded him of the fact that my Jewish community is larger than his Jewish community in Jerusalem. And my community is growing, and I am proud of that fact.”
“1.2 million Jewish New Yorkers. This is the center of the Jewish universe in so many ways,” de Blasio proclaimed.
At the event, the mayor proclaimed June 27th as the “Joe Potasnik Day” in honor of Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. “I am honored to represent the New York Board of Rabbis which is the largest interdenominational rabbinic body in the world demonstrating that we can have unity without uniformity as one people,” Potasnik told Jewish Insider. “This celebration is a reminder that we Jews must remember not only our pain but also our pride as a people.”
Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan also addressed the crowd. “It’s very easy to be Jewish, it’s very easy to be pro-Israel in New York,” said Dayan.