Blue State Blues: Andrew Cuomo, Israel’s Fair-weather Friend

Andrew Cuomo (Kena Betancur / Getty)
Kena Betancur / Getty

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo left Wednesday for Israel on what was described as a “solidarity and trade” mission. But when “solidarity” counted most last year, Cuomo was nowhere to be seen.

Last year, Cuomo was to have visited Israel a few days after President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The governor failed to make the ceremony — in fact, no elected Democrat attended — but he was to show his support afterwards.

And then, suddenly, Gov. Cuomo canceled his trip. His spokesperson said that the immediate cause was the violence on the border with Gaza — the “protests” that were orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist group in an effort to infiltrate, and embarrass, Israel.

Though the governor had wanted to visit when Iranian-supplied missiles were being fired at the Golan Heights, she explained, somehow the deaths of Palestinian “protesters” meant Cuomo would no longer arrive.

It was a bogus excuse. The “protests” — in reality, violent riots — had been ongoing for six weeks prior to the opening of the new embassy. (When Palestinians actually protest against its corrupt and tyrannical rule, Hamas suppresses them   violently.)

The mainstream media were awash in stories about how Israelis had killed dozens of demonstrators, leading left-wing Democrats to denounce Israel. But in reality, at least 50 of the 62 “martyrs” killed were members of Hamas.

There was no threat whatsoever to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or other parts of the country, which were celebrating jubilantly — not only because of the embassy move, but because of Jerusalem Day (the anniversary of the reunification of the city during the Six Day War), and because Netta Barzilai had just won the Eurovision song contest.

The real reason Cuomo canceled his trip was that he was terrified of the criticism he would face from the media and from the Democratic left.

At the time, Cuomo faced an insurgent challenge from former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon. Nixon was widely seen as anti-Israel, and had supported an artists’ boycott of the Israeli town of Ariel, in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Though Cuomo would go on to defeat Nixon by a wide margin, he was clearly running scared from Nixon’s challenge — especially with upstarts like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also anti-Israel) on the rise in the state.

The reality is that Cuomo canceled his visit to Israel because he was frightened about the political blowback. Contrast that with the courage shown by another Democrat, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who defied the Obama administration in the midst of the 2014 war with Hamas and flew to Israel on El Al, Israel’s national carrier, to demonstrate that it was safe to land at Ben-Gurion Airport and that President Barack Obama’s flight ban was nonsense.

Cuomo is graded on a curve: he is embraced as pro-Israel because the rest of the Democratic Party is moving rapidly in the other direction.

This week, an Orthodox Jewish organization, Young Israel, thanked Gov. Cuomo for denouncing a claim by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that migrant detention facilities at the U.S. border with Mexico are like “concentration camps” during the Nazi Holocaust. (Cuomo called the Nazi analogy “wholly inappropriate.”)

It is astonishing that the Jewish community feels it needs to extend special thanks to Democrats when they state the obvious. Yes, Cuomo deserves some credit for visiting Israel and strengthening ties. But he remains a fair-weather friend.

When Israel needed his help — and when showing up might have salvaged the idea of bipartisan support for Israel — Cuomo bravely ran away. True “solidarity” comes in a moment of need — not one of political convenience.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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