By COLlive reporter
Photos: Sholem Srugo
Elected officials, members of law enforcement, and community, business, and civic leaders from New York’s Jewish community gathered at Gracie Mansion Thursday for the annual Jewish Heritage event, hosted by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor de Blasio welcomed participants and thanked the Jewish community because they have “done so much to define New York City for generations.”
“This community is the core and the heart of who we are as New Yorkers,” said the Mayor, who has announced his candidacy for president. “If you love New York City and you love what we stand for, you have to love our Jewish community.”
For millennia, the Jewish people have faced danger and exclusion, and we never rest or become unvigilant in the face of these threats, de Blasio said. “So this city has had to be a beacon, a place where Jewish people knew there would be respect, and there would be protection,” he said.
De Blasio addressed the increase in hate crimes in New York City – 60% of which targeted the Jewish community in Crown Heights and elsewhere in Brooklyn and the city.
The uptick in anti-Semitism “must be confronted,” de Blasio said, adding that the city council is opening an office to fight hate crimes and the NYPD has made 19 percent more arrests for hate crimes, “to show that there will be consequences.”
“I want to make a clear statement…to anyone out there who contemplates an attack of any kind, an insult, any type of bias against the Jewish community – if you commit a hate crime in New York City, we will find you, we will arrest you, we will prosecute you, and you will go to jail… it’s as simple as that,” the Mayor said to loud applause.
“We never should forget that anti-Semitism is a particular cancer. And a small act of hatred can turn into very large acts of violence – we’ve seen it in history. That’s why we need to stamp it out now, because we can never take that risk. That’s why we need to denounce anti-Semitism every time we hear it, every time we see it, whether it comes from left, whether it comes from right, whether it comes from center – wherever it comes from, we must confront it,” he said.
On Friday afternoon, de Blasio and the City Council reached a $92.8 billion budget deal following which the mayor traveled to New Hampshire as part of his race for the White House.