(JTA) — The crisis in Israel and Gaza spilled into New York City’s mayoral race after a leading candidate, Andrew Yang, tweeted in support of Israel.
“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” Yang, a businessman and former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted Monday.
His tweet, coming after Hamas fired rockets into Israel and Israel responded with attacks on Gaza, was condemned by local pro-Palestinian activists as pandering. He was disinvited from a local event marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
The Democrats’ biggest local star, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted that it is “utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked.”
Yang has been actively courting the Jewish vote, especially in the haredi Orthodox communities, where he has picked up some key endorsements ahead of next month’s Democratic primary.
Two other centrists in the race also weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Businessman Ray McGuire tweeted a message saying, “I stand proudly with Israel,” and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the people Israel at this time of crisis.”
Yang, however, appears to hold a slight lead in the polls and as a political neophyte has drawn more scrutiny and skepticism than his rivals.
One progressive candidate also weighed in. Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, tweeted, “Our world needs leaders who recognize humanity and the dignity of all lives. Whether in NYC, Colombia, Brazil or Israel-Palestine, state violence is wrong. Targeting civilians is wrong. Killing children is wrong. Full stop.”
Despite some praise from Republicans, Yang released a statement Wednesday morning saying that “my tweet was overly simplistic in my treatment of a conflict that has a long and complex history full of tragedies.” He added that he “failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering of both sides.”