De Blasio: Israel Can Learn From NYC on Muslim Community Engagement

NEW YORK – NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says Israel can learn from New York City on its approach in actively encouraging the Muslim community to see itself as an integral part of society.

“In this city we have 900 Muslim-American members of the NYPD. Some of the most effective, committed members of the NYPD – Muslim-Americans. It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but they do great work for all of us,” de Blasio said during an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn Monday morning. “They also are a positive symbol to members of the Muslim-American community that everyone is included here, that everyone’s respected here. I think that’s an approach that’s needed in Israel and every other multi-cultural society.”

The mayor’s comments came in response to Israeli Prime Minister’s comments Saturday night, in which he he criticized “wild incitement” against Israel in the Israeli-Arab community and questioned their national loyalty in the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting outside a Tel Aviv pub. “We will dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector,” Netanyahu said in remarks at the site of the shooting. “I will not accept two nations within Israel: a lawful nation for all its citizens and a (second) nation within a nation for some of its citizens, in pockets of lawlessness. Whoever wants to be Israeli must be fully Israeli — both in rights and in obligations. And the first and paramount obligation is to abide by the laws of the state.”

The comments were immediately repudiated by Israeli politicians from left and right, accusing Netanyahu of inciting against all Israeli-Arab citizens.

When asked about Netanyahu’s comments, de Blasio said, “I haven’t seen the specific comments.” But added, “I’ll make a broad point. The only way we’re going to solve a lot of the challenges we face is with an inclusive approach and a respectful approach. This city is a great example of that.”

During a recent trip to Israel, Mayor de Blasio took a field trip with students of a coexistence Jewish-Arab school, Hand in Hand, for a field trip to an olive grove near a kibbutz west of Jerusalem to promote intolerance. Earlier this year, de Blasio condemned Netanyahu’s pre-election remarks about arab voters.

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