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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds Vigil for Victims of Terrorist Attacks in Israel

October 9, 2023

Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, Communications: My name is Fabien Levy, deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. First, I'd like to introduce Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser for a prayer tonight.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser: The great Rabbi of [Gare], was in Israel in Jerusalem. He's old and he's frail, and he needed to take a walk every morning to make sure that he keeps the circulation going. He went together with his attendant every morning. It was a particularly warm morning in Jerusalem.

All of a sudden, the great Rabbi began to shake, and the attendant said, Rabbi, are you ill? Is something wrong? He said, no, it's cold here. It's cold [inaudible], it's cold. The attendant said, Rabbi, it's a warm day out. He said, no, the soldiers, the chayalim in the [inaudible], they are bitter, because it's so cold, and I feel their cold in my bones.

Everybody that is here today— all good people from all walks of lives, from all backgrounds— you are here because you feel the cold. You feel the cold of the soldiers, you feel the cold of the people, you feel the cold in the hostages, you feel the cold in the home state of Israel. 

And because of that, the unity that is here this evening, I cannot tell you how great is the power of this unity. The entire world should take note. This type of gathering should be on every single continent. But you know, God gave to us an angel.
He sent an angel down to New York City, and that angel, of course, is our mayor. And our mayor care about others. He traveled to the state of Israel. I've seen him, and I saw him at the various attractions, and the people came to interact with him. You tell me another mayor who does that. He's a brother. He is a real brother of our people, of all good people.

We say when it would come to a prayer at a time of challenge that it's a time of challenge for Jacob. [Hebrew]. The question "why Jacob, why not Abraham, why not Isaac," because Jacob is the one that was met in the middle of the night by Esau, the power of evil, and he wrestled with the power of evil the entire evening, and he put up a fight. Finally the dawn rose, the angel was able to beat Esau, the power of evil. That's the reason we say it's a time of evil for Jacob.

All good people are fighting the forces of evil, the forces of evil that have done something that the human mind cannot even fathom, the depravity, how decrepit it is, how deviated it is for an individual to know to come into a holiday...and just a side note, that holiday is the wedding of God. God made a wedding for all the people when the Torah was united with humanity.

I don't believe that God likes when somebody crashes his wedding. And there is not a question about it that we will see and we will all pray together, we will pray for the speedy recovery of all those that are wounded, we're going to pray for each and every hostage to be brought back now, not to have one left behind. We are going to make sure that throughout the world nobody sleeps and every representative is contacted.

I don't care what the world issues are. I don't care what the global issues are. I care about one issue: each and every hostage, every mother, every child, every father, every grandfather that was taken and carted away.

There's a lot of references to the Holocaust. It's an interesting idea. We pray that the children's innocence that witnessed all these scenes by the perpetrators, we pray that they should be restored, their equilibrium, that it shouldn't shatter them for life. We pray for each and every house in Israel to be secure no matter where it's at, no matter where it's located. That's what we're coming to pray for today.

I would like to point out the magnanimous efforts of two people in particular: my good friend, Inspector Richard Taylor, an individual that does not stop day and night. He is a representative of the NYPD, the greatest police force in the entire world.

I also want to point out Joel Eisdorfer, Senior Adviser to the mayor.

His comportment, he is a gentleman. He is a person who gets things accomplished. It is always a pleasure to work with him. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, you know, when people criticize Zionists, the state of Israel, they don't mean Israel. They don't mean Zionists. They mean the Jews.

In closing, they took people and they marched them into the gas chamber, 1944. And when those people, unfortunately, were hostages in the gas chamber, the Germans waited, and inside, they began to hear singing and dancing— singing and dancing in the gas chamber? That's an impossibility. That's out of place. Lie down, just die. Accept your fate.

Not those Jews. They sang and danced. Why? It Simchat Torah, the same holiday that the wicked forces of evil came to do there...I don't want to say it, the destruction. So, they were singing and dancing. The Nazis couldn't take it. They opened up the door to the gas chamber—  never happened before.

They all shouted, mir veln zey iberlebn— in German— we're going to out live you! We're going to out live you, they said to the Nazis. That night, anyhow, they were all freed. I pray from the depths of my heart together with everybody here that we should say mir veln zey iberlebn— we're going to out live them, and every hostage will come home with the help of the Almighty.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, everybody. Again, my name is Fabien Levy. I'm deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. But I am also here today as the son of Jewish parents who immigrated here from the Middle East almost 50 years ago.

As the son of a mother who was forced to flee Iraq as a young child and whose family sought refuge in Israel, as a brother, nephew, cousin and friend who have loved ones in Israel right now, some struggling to get home to New York, some putting on their uniform to serve their country in a time of war, and others who are just praying for their safety and their lives frightened in a bomb shelter.

Like all of you, I'm here standing in solidarity with the Jewish community and grieving for the innocent lives lost in Israel on Saturday in what was the single deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

This administration is proud to reflect the rich diversity of our city, and we are all here today to condemn this senseless violence and remember the innocent lives lost. The mayor often says that it's moments like this where we have to take the opportunity to turn our pain into purpose. I hope we can channel what we are all feeling here today and turn it into purposeful, thoughtful action so we can see an end to this violence and return to peace.

Before we begin, I'd like to introduce the broad coalition of allies we have here standing in strong support of Israel. From our administration, Maria Torres‑Springer, deputy mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce; chief adviser to the mayor, Ingrid Lewis‑Martin; deputy chief of staff and senior advisor, Menashe Shapiro, senior adviser to the mayor, Joel Eisdorfer; Intergovernment Affairs Director Tiffany Raspberry; senior adviser to the mayor, Diane Savino; Community Affairs Commissioner Fred Kreizman; International Affairs Commissioner Ed Mermelstein; Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch; Pastor Gil Monrose.

And then, from our advocates and elected officials, Itay Milner from the Israel Consulate here in New York; Yael Hashavit is also from the Israeli Consulate. U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks, U.S. Representative Dan Goldman; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso; Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson; Staten Island Borough President, Vito Fossella; Assemblymember Bobby Carroll; Assemblymember Taylor Darling; Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia; Assemblymember Sam Berger; Assemblymember Tony Simone; Assemblymember Michaelle Solages; Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos; Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. Councilmember Gale Brewer; Councilmember Julie Menin; Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse; Councilmember Keith Powers; Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez.

We also have representatives from the New York Attorney General's office. We have a Rabbi David Goldwasser, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Rabbi Chanina Sperlin; Hindy Poupko, from UJA; Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti‑Defamation League; Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove; Abigail Katzap from NYU.

I'd also like to thank the NYPD for keeping our city safe in this time.

And now I'd like to introduce New York City mayor, Eric Adams.

[Lighting of candles.]

Deputy Mayor Levy: I just want to add, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh, David Greenfield from the Met Council and Assemblymember Alex Bores also joined us. I would apologize for anyone we've missed, but now, New York City mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: And we also have Assemblywoman Tapia has also joined us. And really want to thank our federal lawmakers, both Congressman Goldman and Congressman Meeks. And I don't know if we have any other congressional delegations.
Can we just have a moment of silence and just really a moment of reflection of the lives lost and the family members who are still going through the uncertainty and the trauma that we are experiencing as a city. So, I just want to take a moment to just reflect on our humanity and just silence.

[Moment of silence.]

I am...I am devastated, and I am angry. And I am going to really refrain from allowing that anger to really display the human part of me. But I am in so much pain from what I saw and what I witnessed. Nothing can justify pulling innocent children from their homes, murdering them, dragging them through the streets, laying your feet across their bodies. Nothing can justify what we witnessed. Nothing can justify what we witnessed.

And my friends and associates that have been side by side with me for years, of different religious communities— the Sikh community, the Muslim community, the Christian community, the Jewish community— all the different communities have reached out to me and stated that what we witnessed was reprehensible and disgusting.

To state that that terrorist act that we saw cannot be defended anywhere on this globe. It is not acceptable what we witnessed in Israel— not acceptable.

And you cannot rationalize it. You cannot state that how it was done and why it was done. It was clear that it was anger, antisemitism at the highest level, and a total mindset of inflicting pain at one of the most holiest days of the year in a premeditated, barbaric action that is unacceptable and it will go down in the history as one of the most draconian disgusting acts you can ever witness.

And no one should be celebrating this— no one. Humanity should be angry. Yes, I stand with Israel. Yes, I stand with the Jewish community.

But most importantly, I stand with humanity. I stand with human behavior that should never reach this depth. This is what we fought for so long so many years. This is what we stood for. This city has the largest population of so many groups, from Muslims to Indians to Africans to South Americans, Central Americans; and, we also are the largest Jewish population outside of Israel.

This is who we are, and I'm watching what is playing out across the country. I'm watching protests where people are carrying swastikas not understanding does it...and how it impacts not only the heart of the Jewish community but those same swastika symbols were used when African Americans were attempted to fight for their freedom and their right to exist. This cuts across all lines ‑‑ all lines.

And so, I stand here today, my heart is broken. I stand here today in pain. But I wanted to stand by those candles as one at a time we light them, because we have to light our path for the future. We cannot allow the darkness of the actions we witnessed to turn us into who they are. That is what their goal is. But I'm clear: Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel has a right to protect itself.

And we need every one of those hostages to be returned home. We need them to be returned home.

And it is crucial that we do not allow anything to take us off of our pursuit of peace. All I can say to you as New Yorker, as the mayor of this city in all of its diversity, in all of its wonders, this is a painful day for our city and our country, and it's a painful day for humanity. Let's continue to lift each other up in prayer, and let's pray for the family members who lost their loved ones.

Let's pray for those family members are still wondering of the destiny of their family members. And I thank God our congressman was able to make his way back home. He was in Israel at the time, and he was able to come back safely.

Let's hope all are able to return safely to their families, to their loved ones, to their country. This is such a dark period, and we must find light and turn this painful moment into a purposeful moment. May God be with us all. Thank you very much. 

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, mayor. Next, we'll hear from Itay Milner from the Israeli Consulate.

Itay Milner, Spokesperson and Consul for Media Affairs, Consulate General of Israel: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor Adams. Thank you, official elected. Thank you, New York. Thank you for strengthening us in one of the darkest days that we have as a nation, as a nation state. What happened Saturday is not an assault, it's not an attack. It's a massacre. For lack of a better word, it's a pogrom. Our people were murdered. They were tortured. They were kidnapped. They were humiliated.

We know those feelings; we know this feeling. It may be the darkest day as a nation state, but we are older than just a state, we are a nation of thousands of years—thousands of years that every generation and every generation they tried to kill us.

But we always came out stronger. And unlike our ancestors, this time around, we also have a state, and we also have an army.

And those terrorists, they don't know what can of hell they just opened.

We're going to go there, and we're going to smoke them out of their caves and we're going to take them one after one after one after one.

There will be no Hamas after this.

[Inaudible] and we will prevail.

Thank you, New York.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Itay. Next, we'll hear from Rabbi Joseph Potasnik.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik: Thank you. We are told that as people of faith that every day you give thanks for the blessings that you see all around you. I would also take a moment to give thanks for this mayor who truly has been a blessing not only to the Jewish people but to all people especially during difficult times.

I come here today as a child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up in a home where on a particular table there were five pictures— there were five pictures of my parents' children who were taken from them during that horrific period. Whenever it was time for memorial service, my parents would walk over to the pictures, put five candles there. And my father would say the following: “mir zaynen do,” we're here. We didn't forget you.

So, we come here tonight, light those candles, and we in our own way, no matter what language, also say, mir zaynen do. [Anach du po], we didn't forget you. You know that throughout history, especially Jewish history, so many tragedies occurred because people were silent instead of shouting.

Mayor Adams: That's right.

Rabbi Potasnik: Today, we're not silent. Today we're not silent anymore. Today we're going to shout, and what makes this time different is that Jews and non Jews are shouting together.
I remember being with this mayor years ago when he was a Brooklyn Borough President, very young at that time. And whenever there was an attack on any house of worship, he would gather us all together and say, you have a responsibility. And then I remember his quotation. He said, some people will ask, what can we do; and I ask, what else should we do? And thus we come here, because this is what we have to do.

So, this year on Simchat Torah— the day people were massacred, the day people were slaughtered— we didn't dance with torahs. But what we did in some places where we could observe Simchat Torah, instead of the dancing we declared those famous words when we concluded the portion, hazak hazak ve‑nit'hazek. You be strong, and I'll be strong, and together we will shout and be strong together. Amen.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Rabbi. Next, we'll hear from Abigail Katzap from New York University.

Abigail Katzap: Hi. I'm Abby Katzap. I'm a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, and I go to New York University.
Thank you. I found out the news Friday night after coming back from a Hillel Shabbat dinner. And when I got to my dorm, a notification on my phone popped up, and instantly I knew something was wrong. And as I went to go check of my phone, another notification popped up. And I just felt very strange for all this news to be happening at the end of such an important high holiday season.

Immediately I texted all my close family friends that live and serve in Israel to check in, because...but not all of them got back to me right away because of the holiday. I found myself constantly online watching what my peers are posting, refreshing to see what news outlets were saying and just waiting to get more information. The entire situation felt so overwhelming because of the amount of loved ones I have there, and it felt as if so much information was [inaudible].

Once people got back on their phones after the holiday, I'm glad to report that everyone I know is just okay. Although I still have friends on the front lines and knowing that there is still a constant worry for me, as a Jewish person in New York it feels like there's only one degree of separation. Because this happened over the weekend, I can't really speak for anything that's happened at NYU. So far, my professors have been very understanding when I asked for extensions on assignments, and a few of my sorority sisters who are not Jewish have been reaching out to check in or ask me questions to learn about what's happening and seeing how they can support.

And I'm incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to say that I feel safe and supported at NYU, but there are campuses in New York and around the country that are looking for support. Speaking on behalf of students across the country, opening up social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok is very unnerving and anxiety producing. And now rather than creating a time of anger, we should be focused on how to support the emotions of everybody.

I am really appreciative for all of you taking the time to listen, and thank you for letting me speak to all of you. And thank you, Eric Adams, for putting this together. I'm hoping for peace for all people that's been impacted by this, and hope it will end soon.

Thank you very much.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Abby. Next, we'll hear from City Hall Chief Adviser, Ingrid Lewis‑Martin.

Chief Advisor to the Mayor, Ingrid Lewis‑Martin: As everyone knows, I believe in God. The God that we serve is a God of peace, a God of love and a God of kindness. God wants all of his people to walk together, to work in partnership and to live harmoniously. I had the pleasure of being in Israel several months ago and I was able to pray with people of all faiths and denominations. Israel is the one place where all people can work together, pray together and be together.

What happened this weekend should not have been anywhere on earth, and for it to happen in Israel— a place where all religions convene and all religions work in partnership— is reprehensible. For children, grandparents, women to be killed, to be decapitated, to be maimed is unacceptable. The mayor said that we need peace, we need true peace. We need to come from a place of love and understanding. This is not the way to serve God. God is a God of peace and understanding.

Someone else said that we need the hostages to be returned home. We need them returned home alive and well. We need them alive and well. The power of prayer is a strong tool. A lot of people do not believe in prayer, but I'm a living testament that prayer works, and I'm asking everyone who sees this and hears my voice to pray for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and also to pray that the people who are responsible for this understands that they will not gain from it, to understand that the equalizer is God and that they will have a day of reckoning.

[Cheers, Applause] Again, I believe in God and I believe in peace. We need peace and we need understanding. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Ingrid. Next, we'll hear from Rabbi Chanina Sperlin.

Rabbi Chanina Sperlin: Good evening. We heard everything, and I don't have to repeat the words, but the mayor said and everybody said here today, but we all know that the massacre that took place on innocent children, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers...let me tell you something. We're so lucky we have a wonderful army in Israel, a wonderful, and they know how to get the job done.

They will catch you, each and every one of you. They will hunt you down. They're going to...they're going to...they're going to finish you off. And we have to pray that the other countries that support Israel will let Israel do the job once and for all and finish them off.

I also want to say that I had the privilege to go with the mayor to Israel, Joel Eisdorfer, the senior adviser to the mayor and others, the deputy mayor went with us, and the Police Commissioner had the privilege to walk with the mayor to the Western Wall. I was very touched when the mayor wrote that note and put it into the Western Wall and prayed.

I know the mayor for a very long time. This is not the first time the mayor went to Israel. As mayor he went to Israel, as state senator he went to Israel, as borough president he went to Israel. New York don't have a better friend for Israel than Mayor Eric Adams. 

He stands with us thick and thin, always standing for us when we have an issue. So, I wanted to salute the mayor for everything that you have done and you continue to do for all of us and particularly the state of Israel. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Rabbi. Next, we'll hear from Hindy Poupko from UJF. 

Hindy Poupko, Deputy Chief Planning Officer, UJA-Federation of New York: Thank you. I first and foremost want to thank our mayor for your stalwart support of the state of Israel. So many of us were in synagogue on Shabbat morning when we first learned of the news, if we weren't looking at our phones. And I remember our rabbi got up and he stopped services, and he said, something just happened in Israel.

And my first instinct was really to run downstairs and lock the door of the synagogue. I said, if they're not safe, we're not safe. But then I thought better of it. I said, you know what? Our mayor has our back. NYPD has our back. I bet they know, and I bet they're here— and they were. And thank you, NYPD and everyone for always being there with us.

And in so many ways, you have acted like our comforter in chief, knowing that when we are broken you were there with us, and we knew that you would be there with us. As someone said before, we are all New York Jews, just one degree of separation, my brother, your son, your daughter, your cousin. What they are living through, we are living through, and we know that we and they have just lived through the darkest days of Israel's modern history.

And I think it's important to know that we won't just never forget the images; perhaps more importantly, we will never forget their stories, the lives of the people that we lost, the pictures of the families that will never be reunited. It is our duty to light candles and to remember them and to share their stories and share the lives that they led.

The New York Jewish community is strong. We are unique. I am sure we are the city with the most streets named after Israeli heroes. We're in Golda Meir Square, Rabin Square, right? They're countless. There are more flights between New York and Israel in normal times than any other city in the world.

New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond. And I'm here tonight to say that the New York Jewish community has mobilized. We are responding. We are sending resources, humanitarian aid, making sure that the victims of terror know that each and every one of us are there for them. We are strong, we are undeterred, and we are motivated and strengthened by you, mayor, for your support. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you very much, Hindy. Next, we'll hear from Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti‑Defamation League.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League: I don't want to be here. I have no interest in being here. I am tired of mourning dead Jews. I am tired and exhausted at the suffering of our people. And I am sickened to my core by the images I am seeing of children kidnapped and humiliated, of the elderly burned alive in their homes, of families liquidated, of my friends who were killed, of my family who are in hiding.

I am sick and tired of it. And I am disgusted not just by the atrocities— although that's enough— but by their accomplices, here in New York, marching in front of my office saying, resistance. Let me tell you something: rape is not resistance.
Murder is not a political movement.

And these people will end where evil always does, on the ashes of history.

Now, I'm grateful to Mayor Adams for calling this rally and for the leadership he has always shown and the courage he is always had to speak for our community. When our orthodox brothers and sisters were beaten and attacked in Brooklyn, Mayor Adams was there. When our synagogues are vandalized, when kosher restaurants are vandalized, when our people are harassed, Mayor Adams is there.

But we need more than Mayor Adams now. We need members of the press to stop warping the narrative.

There are no fighters in Hamas, only barbarians.

These were not attacks over the weekend, they were massacres.

And at the end of the day, I have faith in God that through this, we will persevere. I will say one more thing. For years, I have been criticized. For years I have been attacked for saying anti‑Zionism is antisemitism. Well, let me say here I got it wrong: anti‑Zionism is genocide, and that's what you saw this weekend, because just wait, an ideology that says it is okay to slaughter children, to rape grandmothers, to kill their children in front of their parents, I am sorry, we saw this in the thirties and we knew what it was. We see it in these thirties, these twenties, and we know what it is. And God above, we will survive. Thank you very much.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Jonathan. Next, we're going to hear from U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks.

Congressman Gregory Meeks: I, too, Jonathan, wish we didn't have to be here. 4,000 rockets launched into Israel, 2,500 Israelis have been injured, 1,800 civilians, 900‑plus murdered, 50 to 100 kidnapped, nine Americans killed. The number that have been put into hostage is unknown. Dozens of terrorists as we speak still trying to get across the borders.

I stand here today as a member of the United States Congress, as the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and now the lead Democrat. To say that the issue that's before us today is not a political issue, it's an issue about whether you're right or you're wrong. It's an issue of whether we're going to get hate out of this place or not. It's an issue that we're going to stand for my brothers and sisters in Israel, because when you look at what Hamas has done and what Hamas has always stood for.

We talk about peace, but the truth of the matter is you can't have peace with someone who doesn't want peace. You can't have peace when someone says you don't have the right to exist.

You've got to come back and push back. And so I'm here to say that the United States Congress, my colleague Dan Goldman, I was with Grace Meng earlier today. We are going to make sure that Israel has everything that it needs to defend itself.

To be silent is to be complicit. We cannot sit on the sidelines. And I gotta tell you, as the lead Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I'm going to be going from country to country and saying, where do you stand, because this is a human rights issue, and we've all got to stand together and say this could never, ever happen again.

The fact of the matter is, I've been to the Gaza Strip, I've been in those tunnels. I've watched people who just wanted to eat but they have to sit with their faces to the door scared of someone wanting to attack them. Enough is enough. So, I'm going to stand, as the President of the United States has said, making sure that everything that Israel needs is there. I'm standing with the president as he sent George W. Bush ship there to make sure that folks know that the United States is standing strong with Israel. I'm going to stand with my colleagues.

I close on this. Because we think it's so important, I called my colleague Michael McCaul who is now the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I said, Michael, we've got to speak with one voice. We've got to make sure our congress puts something out. We worked collectively to draft a resolution to talk about the hate and the heinous acts and the criminality of Hamas and that we stand with Israel.

And when we get back to Washington D.C. that resolution will be introduced, and it will be...when we have the opportunity to vote on the floor, the very first thing that the congress does so that we can speak to the world and say that the United States congress stands with the people of Israel and we'll do what we have to do to make sure it has everything that it needs to defend itself.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, congressman. Next, we'll hear from Congressman Dan Goldman.

Congressman Dan Goldman: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor Adams, for pulling us together. It's wonderful to see so many of my friends in elected office, so many of my friends in the Jewish community, so many of my friends who are New Yorkers, so many of my friends who are Americans, and so many of my friends who will not accept terrorism.

On Saturday morning at 6:30 I was lying in bed with my nine‑year‑old daughter on one side and my five‑year‑old daughter on the other side, and sirens went off in Tel Aviv. It is the well‑known signal in Israel but not well known to me or my family that there are rockets on their way. We had 90 seconds to get to the stairwell in the hotel until the possibility of the rocket landing on our hotel would happen.

Thankfully, and in large part because of the tremendous partnership between the United States and Israel, the iron dome intercepted nearly all of those 2,200 rockets on Saturday morning. 

But the trauma that my children and I felt as we went back and forth to the stairwell as the sirens called out, as we heard the iron dome missiles intercepting the rockets, is nothing— nothing— compared to the trauma that so many of our brothers and sisters and family members in southern Israel have had to endure and continue to endure today.

And make no mistake about it: this is not part of the Middle East conflict. This is not part of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. This was a heinous terrorist act. Nothing less than absolute destruction. Indiscriminate, horrific murder, abduction, rape by an organization that is a terrorist organization.

And like we did with Al‑Qaeda, and like we have done with ISIS, we must stand with Israel to eradicate the terrorist organization Hamas.

And I say this not only as a proud Jewish member of congress who supports the Jewish state of Israel, I say this as someone who believes deeply in democracy. And Israel is a true democratic ally. We must always stand in unison even when we have some disagreements— as we do here— with our democratic allies.

But I also stand here to urge everyone to recognize that it is better for the Palestinian people, for them and all of the world to be rid of Hamas and to be rid of terrorism.

The pathway to peace in the Middle East is through a partnership with those members of the Palestinian community who want peace, who want prosperity, who want success, who want democracy, and that is not Hamas. And we in congress, as

Congressman Meeks said, will do absolutely everything that we need to do to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against these horrific terrorist organizations and that Israel will always be able to be secure and safe as the state of the Jewish people in a democratic nation in the Middle East. Thank you very much.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Congressman. Next, we'll hear from Noam Gilboord from the JCRC. 

Noam Gilboord, Interim CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council: Good evening. I learned the history of Israel from a professor of mine at Brandeis University about 15 years ago. This man taught me everything I know about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I think of him all the time.

This morning, I got a letter...I got an e‑mail sending condolences to my professor, because his son and his daughter‑in‑law who lived on a kibbutz in the south of Israel were murdered by a terrorist while shielding their young son who survived because his parents' bodies were on top of him. This is close to home. My sister was in Israel. She landed here at JFK only a few hours ago after spending too long in a bomb shelter.

The images that I've seen over the last couple of days are images that remind me of horrific things that I have seen throughout history, things that I have not experienced in my lifetime. I thought they were history, but they are not: they are here and they are evil.

I want to thank the mayor and I want to thank all of the elected officials who are here today and who spoke up publicly— publicly— standing in support of Israel in its time of need and in our time of need!

I look at you and I know who you are and I remember what you've said. I remember what you've done, and I remember that when we needed you, you showed up. I wish that your colleagues have the same courage.

Look at these people. Look at their faces, know their names! You have leaders in front of you. You have people who are here who are brave and who are not afraid to stand up for truth, stand up for justice, and they are not afraid to say that murder is wrong, that kidnapping the elderly and children is wrong, that rape is wrong. They are not afraid to stand with people and have that moral clarity when we need them to do that. This shouldn't be a big ask, but for some reason it is.

I have two daughters, they're eight and five. We went to synagogue yesterday, and it was supposed to be the happiest day on the Jewish calendar— the happiest day. The holiday literally is called the happiness of the Torah, Simchat Torah. And instead of dancing, instead of celebrating, my community made a decision to sing a song about the eternal hope for peace, that one day we will not have to be fearful of what will happen to our lives.

This is a vigil, and I invite all of you to sing in Hebrew with me. With apologies to those who don't know Hebrew, this is an old, old Jewish prayer and song about peace and our internal hope for it. Join hands, if you will; and if you won't, that's okay, too.

[Together with crowd, sings in unison.]

Tomorrow at five o'clock, mark your calendars now. Tomorrow at five o'clock in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the U.N. there is going to be a massive rally— a massive rally— in support of Israel! All of you need to be there! All of you need to bring your friends. Elected officials, I'm looking at you! Show up!

Thank you very much. [Speaks in Hebrew.]

Levy: Thank you very much, Noam. We all pray for your professor's family. Thank you, everybody, for coming today. We pray for those that are still hostage, we pray for our friends and family that are in Israel. We pray for those that we've lost; may their memories be a blessing. Thank you.


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