NEW YORK - Mayor Bill De Blasio vowed to “stamp out once and for all” manifestations of anti-Semitism and condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement at a rally against anti-Semitism held at a Brooklyn Synagogue on Thursday.
“It's a very sad reality, but anti-Semitism is alive and well in this world, in this city, in this country,” he said. “History tells us, if you take it lightly, people will be hurt and people will die and we will not allow that in New York City.”
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As a city which prides itself on tolerance, De Blasio said, New York should be “the example to the entire world of what it means to protect our Jewish community.”
At a press conference held by the mayor and NYPD officials on January 3, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that out of the 361 hate crimes that have been recorded in New York City in 2018, over 50 percent were anti-Semitic in nature.
De Blasio revealed at Thursday’s event that numbers for the first few weeks of 2019 show a continued rise in such incidents. As of February 10, there has been 47 hate crimes reported in New York City compared to 27 during the same period in 2018. Over two-thirds of the hate crimes, 32 incidents, targeted the Jewish community.
“I want to give this message loud and clear to anyone who has hatred in their heart and they're thinking of going out and scrawling something on a subway or a front door, they're thinking of attacking an individual because of what they're wearing or because of the language they speak: If you do that, we will find you. We will arrest you and you will go to prison. Period,” he said to the sound of loud applause.
In his speech De Blasio mentioned the October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history and called it a “wake-up call to the danger.”
“Every New Yorker should be part of solving this crisis,” he continued. “When we say, if you see something, say something, that's not just about terrorism, that's about anything that would tear us apart.”
The mayor also reiterated his support for Israel, saying it was created “not just as a dream of a homeland for people who had lost their homeland, but also as a refuge from a world filled with hate.”
“Democrats and Republicans with equal fervor need to say – Israel must exist so the Jewish people know they are always protected,” he stated. “And maybe some people don't realize it, but when they support the BDS movement, they are affronting the right of Israel to exist and that is unacceptable.”
Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan welcomed De Blasio’s remarks adding that “the State of Israel stands alongside the American Jewish community and will continue to work together with the authorities against growing anti-Semitism.”
“Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and the recent physical assaults against Jews in Brooklyn are worrisome and require action,” Dayan said in a statement. "Never again is now and we must fight with all our might against the anti-Semitic beast. "