Governor Andrew Cuomo is on his way to Israel to carry out what he says is an economic mission. But Cuomo says the trip has a personal focus as well.
Cuomo says he’ll meet with business leaders at Technion University about four key industries: tech start-ups, innovations in drones and medical technology, and navigation devices that are being developed for uses like self-driving cars. An MTA official is also on the trip, to see if the navigation techniques can be used to replace the aging signal system on New York City’s subways and on commuter rail lines.
The governor says Israel is a major trading partner with New York State, with New York exporting $5 billion worth of goods to Israel, and importing $8 billion dollars in products. Cuomo says that’s more than any other state.
But the governor says he has a personal reason for the trip, as well, to show solidarity against the growing incidents of anti-Semitism in New York and in many places around the world.
“There has been a scourge of anti-Semitic activity in this country,” said Cuomo. “I believe it is a symptom of the division that is being spread throughout this country, and the intolerance that is being spread throughout this country.”
Cuomo, who has two Jewish brothers-in-law and several Jewish nieces, says for him, it is personal. The governor is also bringing his three daughters on the trip.
“The Jewish community is part of our family,” said Cuomo. “And my family has been offended.”
A reporter asked the governor about the politics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been criticized for allying with Israel’s political right. Cuomo says his trip is not a “political” one, and that he does not want to get involved in the country’s politics.
The governor did weigh in on a recent statement by Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who accused the Trump Administration of running “concentration camps” for immigrants along the U.S. southern border, drawing a comparison to the Holocaust. Cuomo says that analogy is “wholly inappropriate.”
“To draw an equivalency suggest one does not understand what happened in the Holocaust,” said Cuomo, who said what is happening on the southern border is “horrendous” and a “human rights violation.”
In Tuesday’s primary a candidate for district attorney supported by Ocasio-Cortez, Tiffany Caban, appears to have defeated Melinda Katz, the Democratic establishment candidate backed by Cuomo.
The governor blames the outcome on low voter turnout.