Mondoweiss / June 2, 2023
“Americans more and more are opposing the state of Israel. Democrats primarily are moving to a negative place vis-à-vis Israel, most related to the Palestinian conflict” –Former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is very worried by the fact that the American people, Democrats especially, are turning against Israel over its policies toward Palestinians– though not the American government. “Americans more and more are opposing the state of Israel.”
And Cuomo says Jewish people who are angry at Israel are green-lighting this shift in attitude and are not aware that they are putting Israel’s existence in “peril” by doing so.
They are legitimately angry, I believe that. But I believe they are inadvertently fanning the flames of negativity in this country, possibly antisemitism, and endangering the existence of the state of Israel.
Here are Cuomo’s extended comments of June 1, published today on Cuomo’s Youtube channel.
I am very worried about the situation that Israel is in vis-à-vis the American people. Not necessarily vis-à-vis the American government. But vis-à-vis the American people. Americans more and more are opposing the state of Israel. Democrats primarily are moving to a negative place vis-à-vis Israel, most related to the Palestinian conflict.
I’m a Democrat in New York. At one time 80 percent of the Democrats, 90 percent of the Democrats supported Israel, right? You’re a New Yorker you grow up with the Jewish community. Two of my brothers in law are Jewish. There was just total connection with the community…
But it’s gotten to a point where the majority of the Democrats probably will side with Palestine not Israel now and you read stories about apartheid government of Israel, the human rights violations, etc. and I believe that negativity and even antisemitism is being fanned by a concerted effort of groups that are legitimately anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but I think they are strategically and purposefully increasing the negativity toward Israel.
The polling shows a stark shift in attitudes among Democrats, from overwhelming sympathy to Israel a few years ago to mostly sympathizing with Palestinians.
Cuomo went on to speak of Jews. Answering a supposed question from a viewer, he said he opposes a bill that would block New York charities from giving funds to illegal Israeli settlements. Because he said groups pushing that bill have a hidden agenda of destroying Israel.
This bill– Don’t fund charities that help Israeli settlements because they are really prosecuting [sic] Palestinians. Yeah, I think these are efforts that in whole or in part are designed to just foment the negativity towards Israel. And I think many bona fide groups don’t understand the peril that Israel is in.
For example, you have a lot of groups in New York, a lot of Jewish people in New York– Jewish people– who are angry at Israel. They are angry at Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, they are angry at the judicial reforms he tried to pass, they are angry at the coalition government he has put together. They are angry that he is too hostile toward the Palestinian issue. They are legitimately angry, I believe that. But I believe they are inadvertently fanning the flames of negativity in this country, possibly antisemitism, and endangering the existence of the state of Israel.
The state of Israel literally is fighting for its survival as a state.
Cuomo’s comments are somewhat similar to Donald Trump’s often-expressed view that American Jews are not supportive enough of Israel. (At least Trump doesn’t call himself a progressive.)
Cuomo gave advice to Jewish critics of Israel. Be careful how you criticize Israel because it gives Americans permission to be critical.
These groups that have legitimate concerns with Bibi — and I agree with them, I’m against the judicial reforms that were proposed. But start with an opening sentence that says, I support the state of Israel’s existence, I oppose antisemitism. And now let me talk about the judicial reform. I support the state of Israel’s existence. I oppose antisemitism. And now I want to talk about the coalition government that Bib Netanyahu put together because I’m opposed to it.
Fine, but don’t erode the support for the existence of the state Israel, and that’s what they are doing. Because all people hear is the criticism– ‘Even the Jewish people are upset with Israel. Oh well then I shouldn’t support Israel either.’
Distinguish support for the state of Israel versus the complaints about the Israeli government, judicial reform etc.
Cuomo is echoing a core principle of the Jewish pro-Israel lobby: We must stand together because we are a small community, and if we divide, then other Americans will be given permission to be critical of Israel.
He concluded that Israel’s existence was vital to the U.S.
Be anti-judicial reform. Be anti-prime minister. Be anti-coalition government. But don’t be anti-Israel and don’t be antisemitic. And recognize the existence of the state of Israel, both for the state of Israel’s sake and our own. Israel is our best ally in the Middle East period. Israel is a democracy. ‘Well it’s not a perfect democracy.’ Look in the mirror ….
Back in March, Cuomo said he was starting a new group called Progressives for Israel, and it didn’t go over well among liberal Zionists. They didn’t want the company of a disgraced politician; Cuomo resigned in 2021 over sexual harassment allegations.
He said in March, “I’m going to call the question for Democrats: Do you stand with Israel or do you stand against Israel? Because silence is not an option.”
It is rumored that Cuomo plans to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary next year.
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006