Gov. Hochul used her Christmas address Monday to condemn a spike in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes seen across New York since Hamas’ terror attack on Israel this fall.
In her speech, which was pre-taped from the State Capitol in Albany and released Christmas morning, the governor said the “troubling increase in hatred and bigotry around our state” must be an impetus for New Yorkers of all faiths and creeds to band together.
“All major religions — Christians, Muslims and Jews alike — encourage us to keep peace at the center of our thoughts and in our lives,” she said. “I believe that we can be a model for peace for the rest of the world.”
In their Oct. 7 assault, Hamas terrorists killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and took dozens hostage. Since then, Israel has conducted an aggressive military campaign in the Gaza Strip that has left more 20,000 Palestinians dead, thousands of them children.
Since the unease in the Middle East erupted, hate crimes have surged in New York, with NYPD data showing a dramatic uptick in violence and harassment against Jews and Muslims.
Earlier this month, a 28-year-old man allegedly opened fire outside an Albany synagogue while shouting, “Free Palestine!” No one was injured in the gunfire. That incident came after a string of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the city, including an assault on three victims in Brooklyn by assailants who allegedly shouted “f–k Islam.”
“A blizzard of hatred, antisemitism and Islamophobia; gun shots ring out in front of synagogues, street vendors are being harassed because of their religion — attacks on our friends, on our families, all creating real fear,” Hochul said, the last incident referring to a halal truck vendor being harassed in Manhattan last month.
“In an ordinary year, my holiday message would be a simple expression of peace and good will,” Hochul said. “But this year is different, this year we must transcend wishes and platitudes. Instead of yearning for peace, let’s actually live it. Instead of hoping for good will, let’s cultivate it.”
Mayor Adams, who has like Hochul been a vocal supporter of Israel since the war broke out, did not focus his holiday messaging on the conflict overseas.
Instead, the mayor encouraged New Yorkers in brief remarks at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem to “give a little” this holiday season.
“I say to all New Yorkers: As you sit down with your families, remember those that don’t have families. Let’s go to the shelter, let’s go into the subway, give out some socks, let’s walk through the streets and see people are living on the streets, let’s join that energy,” Adams said before helping serve Christmas Day meals. “Let’s be there for them, and they can go from being homeless to being the mayor of the City of New York.”