FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG MEETS WITH ASHKELON, ISRAEL MAYOR BENNY VAKNIN AND NEW YORKERS LIVING IN ASHKELON
Mayor visits the city’s underground operations center and the underground children’s ward at Barziali Medical Center, where he gave out toys to children from Ashkelon and Gaza
The text of the Mayor’s remarks as delivered follows:
“Well good morning. I just wanted to start out by thanking our host, Benny Vaknin, the Mayor of the great town of Ashkelon. This is a city that certainly has shown what Israelis are made of, and we are just thrilled that you have welcomed us here – thank you so much.
“I’m joined by Congressman Gary Ackerman, who represents part of New York City out into Nassau County and is one of the more important congressmen in the United States Congress. He has responsibility for Middle East policy for the House of Representatives. And Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is here and will get a chance to talk to you later on, and Michael Miller from the JCRC, who also came over from New York to join us.
“We wanted to all express our admiration for the courage of the Israeli people in standing up to terrorism. New Yorkers know what terrorism is about; we’ve certainly suffered ourselves. But when we suffered it was a discrete point in time. We were struck by al Qaeda twice as you know – once in 1993 and then the terrible attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The people of Ashkelon face this every day. Israel has been attacked by Hamas since 2005 when the Israelis pulled out of Gaza, and I think I speak for an awful lot of – almost all – Americans who think that Israel is doing the right thing in defending itself. It has a responsibility to defend the citizens. President Bush has said that and President-Elect Obama has said exactly the same thing. In fact, I liked President-Elect Obama’s quote when he said if his daughters were here and they were threatened, he would do everything that he possibly could to defend them, and I think we all feel that way about our families. This special bond between America and Israel is something that you see evidenced today by the fact that we’ve come over here.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958