NYC Mayor Visits Jerusalem Terror Victims
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio visited three victims of last week’s terrorist attacks in Jerusalem during a visit to Hadassah Medical Center Saturday night.
The mayor was joined by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and some Jewish leaders, including Consul General of Israel in NY, Ido Aharoni, who have accompanied him on his 3-day solidarity visit to Israel.
The mayors visited Richard Laken, a U.S. citizen, who lived in New York before making Aliyah, who remains in critical condition; Maria Veldman, a Christian lady, who teaches at the “Hand in Hand” coexistence school for Arab and Israeli kids; and Pesach Krishevski, who was wounded in a terrorist stabbing attack on Malchei Yisrael Street.
“The decision to come to our city now especially during these challenging times when Israel and Jerusalem are experiencing a cruel wave of terror .. is an expression of true friendship,” Barkat told de Blasio in a press conference at the hospital lobby. “You, in New York, understand, because you also went through a round of violence on September 11 (2001.”
Mayor de Blasio opened his remarks by joking that Jerusalem is the 6th borough of New York City. “When you are going through pain, we feel pain too. When you are under attack, we feel under attack too,” the mayor said.
De Blasio strongly condemned the attacks, while praising the courage and the spirits of the victims. “We understand that any acts of violence against civilians. We have to condemn it, and we have to fight to stop it. Because there can’t be peace when civilians are wantonly attacked just for going about their business,” he stressed. But he also expressed his hope that peace talks could be resumed once the violence ends. “Somehow, amidst this pain there is still hope. This violence must end. And it reminds me that when the violence does end, there are good people who will help this society move forward toward peace.”
The two leaders then met in private for several minutes.
Earlier in the day, De Blasio went to Tel Aviv, where he had brunch with Mayor Ron Huldai. He later joined a field trip of Arab and Jewish kids of the “Hand in Hand” school, as they were touring an olive grove and vineyard at the Mony Winery in Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem.
The school, where Arab, Palestinian and Israeli children study together in Hebrew and Arabic, was the target of an arson attack last year.
“The Jewish children did not have Arab friends, and Arab children did not have Jewish friends. And that level of separation obviously makes it hard to move forward,” he said, according to The Daily News. “Now because of the school they’re actually sitting down at the same table and breaking bread. That’s inspiring.”
On Friday night, after attending a Shabbos dinner with Jewish community leaders, the mayor, his staff and the delegation walked to the Western Wall through the Old City. De Blasio spent a significant amount of time praying at the wailing wall, according to several attendees.
On Sunday, De Blasio will deliver the keynote address at the Annual Conference of Mayors at Yad Vashem. He is also expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The meeting will be closed to the press, and no statements will be given. Before departing to NYC, he will meet with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.
Members joining de Blasio on this trip included Michael Miller, Executive Vice President of JCRC; Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, and Jeff Leb, managing director for government relations at UJA-Federation of NY; Michael Landau, honorary director of NYC Global Partners, and philanthropists Elly Kleinman, Leon Goldenberg and Ari Noe.
Mark Meyer Appel, founder of the Bridge Multicultural Advocacy Project in NY, was spotted Saturday morning talking with the mayor during breakfast at the King David Hotel.