(Compilation of statements here supplied by David Buchwald’s office)
Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester), along with Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressman Eliot Engel, hosted a press conference with federal, state, county and local elected officials at White Plains City Hall to demonstrate their support for- and solidarity with- the people of Israel in the midst of the conflict there.
“My heart is with the people of Israel,” said Assemblyman Buchwald. “It saddens me that innocent families are once again being subjected to unconscionable acts of violence. I wholeheartedly support Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks, and I pray that this conflict soon comes to an end.”
“The loss of innocent life on both sides is deplorable,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland). Hamas is responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence, and is putting not only innocent Israelis at risk but ruthlessly using Palestinian civilians as shields. Israel, the only democracy in the region and our steadfast ally, has every right to defend innocent civilians under terrorist threat from the onslaught of Hamas’ rockets just as the United States would respond were we here in the Lower Hudson Valley under constant attack. Continued U.S. support for Israel’s defense is critical, and a Palestinian “unity government” that includes the terrorist group Hamas must not receive U.S. assistance.”
“No one will ever forget September 11, 2001, a day when terrorists attacked us on our own soil. As a result of that terrible day, America had to take steps to defend herself and her citizens against future attacks, much as Israel has had to do for decades,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “Hamas is a terrorist organization whose sole purpose is to destroy Israel. The Hamas rockets that have been fired into Israel have forced the hand of the Israeli people, who have a right to defend themselves against the threat of terror.
The strong bipartisan support for Israel in Congress is indicative of the strong support for our valued allies across America. I thank the Westchester Jewish Council and its member organizations, the UJA-Federation of New York in Westchester, and Assemblyman Buchwald for hosting this event, and everyone who came out to show support for Israel.”
Buchwald, Lowey and Engel were joined at the press conference by a cross-section of Westchester leaders from every level of government. They included: Democratic Conference Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins; State Senator George Latimer; State Assemblymembers Sandy Galef and Amy Paulin; Westchester Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett; Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Michael Kaplowitz; Vice-Chairman of the Board of Legislators James Maisano; County Legislators Benjamin Boykin, Peter B. Harckham, Catherine Borgia, Catherine Parker and Alfreda Williams; Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni; White Plains Mayor Tom Roach; Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner; Harrison Town Board Member Marlane Amelio; Pound Ridge Town Board Member Daniel S. Paschkes; Special Assistant for Community Affairs in Governor Cuomo’s Office David Lobl; Representatives from the offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano; President of the Westchester Jewish Council Paul B. Warhit; Westchester Regional Chair of the UJA-Federation of New York Martine Fleishman; and New York Region Assistant Director of the Anti-Defamation League Michael Arlen. Reverend Dr. Gregory Robeson Smith of Mt. Hope AME Zion Church provided the opening prayer. Attendees used the occasion to voice their support for Israel during this time of crisis.
Rockets aimed at innocent Israeli civilians have continuously been launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel has responded with airstrikes in Gaza in an effort to protect its people and restore peace. Terrorism has no place in our world; Israel has the right to defend itself and its civilians against such heinous acts, noted Assemblyman Buchwald. He hopes that the current threat to innocent life of both Israelis and Palestinians will soon be ended.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made the following statement on July 14, 2014 on this issue: “Over the past week, rocket attacks on Israel by terrorist organizations have put six million lives at risk. For years, rockets have targeted the Israeli population; what were once indiscriminate acts of terror have now become an onslaught. Friends stand together in times of crisis, and the people of New York stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel. Our state has always had a special relationship with Israel. We are home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. At a time of upheaval across the Middle East, Israel remains a bulwark of democracy and a beacon of courage and freedom. We strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself. As New Yorkers, we have experienced global terrorism firsthand. At my direction, New York’s Department of Financial Services has aggressively cracked down on institutions that bankroll terrorist organizations. And we will continue to work closely with our ally Israel to fight global terrorism.”
“I join with many New Yorkers in calling for a peaceful resolution to the continuing strife in Israel and the Gaza Strip, while also recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks launched against it,” said Democratic Conference Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“Like all sovereign nations, Israel has an absolute right to defend itself.
My daughter Sarah is a photographer living in Jerusalem. While I worry about her, I am proud of her commitment to Israel. My thoughts and prayers are with her and the State of Israel,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.
“We must continue to support our ally, Israel, as it defends itself against this onslaught of terrorist attacks. I hope that these senseless acts of violence will cease and Israel and its neighbors can finally sit down together and negotiate a true lasting peace,” said Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.
“Israel is the only true democracy in the middle east. The people of Israel share our love of freedom and opportunity. I stand with Israel and pray that a solution will be achieved that will finally bring peace to all people of the middle east,” said Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz.
“I’m proud to stand with Israel. The only true free and democratic society in the middle east as it stands up to aggression by neighbors who unfortunately reflect dictatorship and ties to terrorism,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Vice Chairman Jim Maisano.
“In times of crisis it is important to know your friends are beside you and so we stand today with the nation and people of Israel and pray for a peaceful resolution of this conflict and for the protection of the innocent whatever their background,” said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach.
Though he wasn’t able to attend the event, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino issued a statement of support that said, “Peace-loving peoples and nations across the globe must remain united and aggressive in working to defeat terrorism and in working to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. At times it seems this will forever be a fruitless endeavor but we mustn’t waver in our faith and resolve to make it so.”
Similarly, State Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein issued a statement of support, saying “Our sacred bond with the people of Israel remains ironclad and is stronger than ever before. In these challenging times, we are proud to stand up and support one of our closest allies as it defends itself from enemies foreign and domestic. No matter how difficult circumstances may arise, the Israeli people will continue to have our unwavering support for generations to come.”
“Now is a time to put politics aside and support Israel as she struggles to defend herself against Hamas, a terrorist organization whose mission is to destroy the Jewish State and make life miserable for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Now is a time for solidarity,” said Westchester Jewish Council President Paul B. Warhit.
“We are proud to stand in solidarity with our Westchester community in support of Israel. UJA federation of NY supports the State of Israel in its pursuit of peace and security for all its citizens. These are very challenging days and it is in times like this that we are reminded of the responsibility and commitment we have to the people of Israel. Because of UJA-Federation of New York’s strong network of nearly 100 remarkable agencies, we’re ready to spring into action when crisis hits. And we are on the ground responding in Israel,” said Westchester Regional Chair of the UJA-Federation of New York Martine Fleishman.
“The Anti-Defamation League expresses solidarity with the government and people of Israel and is proud to stand with the Westchester Jewish Council, UJA-Federation of New York in Westchester and Assemblyman David Buchwald as hundreds of rockets continue to be launched from Gaza, threatening millions of Israeli civilians. We are proud to be part of the Westchester community as it supports Israel’s desire to live side-by-side in peace with its neighbors,” said Lawrence W. Bahr, Anti-Defamation League’s Westchester Advisory Board Chair and Evan R. Bernstein, Regional Director New York for the ADL.