New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took a ride on Jerusalem’s No. 18 bus, in a show of support for the passengers of the route targeted in two suicide bombings.
Accompanied by Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, security guards and journalists, Giuliani boarded the 6:30 a.m. bus Monday, the same one that two suicide bombers had targeted in consecutive Sunday attacks on Feb. 25 and March 3.
Laying wreaths at the sites of the attacks on Jaffa Road – near to central post office and central bus station – Giuliani said, “This is the little we, the people of New York, can do for the residents of Jerusalem.”
But his public remarks about the peace process were roundly criticized as politically opportunistic in a New York Times editorial on March 12.
The paper criticized a call by the mayor on Israelis to use more caution in dealing with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
“Don’t go romanticizing,” Giuliani said. “Remember, if you are asking something of him you need more proof that it is going to be carried out than if you asked that of someone else.”
The mayor “should not be grandstanding” at such a sensitive moment in the peacemaking process, the Times said.
Last fall, Giuliani got headlines when he ousted Arafat from a concert at Lincoln Center during 50th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, an Israeli Consulate official in New York said the show of solidarity was appreciated.
“Mayor Giuliani went to Israel as the mayor of probably the biggest Jewish city in the world to express his solidarity and the solidarity of the people of New York with the people of the State Of Israel, and we really appreciate it,” said Gideon Mark, Israeli consul for communications and public affairs in New York.
Mark said he believed that Giuliani “did not interfere in internal Israeli politics,” despite several accusations to the contrary.
On his trip, Giuliani met with Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
He also visited those wounded in the wounded in the attacks and still hospitalized and spoke to students at Beit Hinuch, the Jerusalem high school that lost four graduates in the recent attacks.
Giuliani also traveled to Tel Aviv, where he was the guest of the municipality and visited the bombing site near Dizengoff Center.