At pre-High Holidays roundtable, Eric Adams compares Israeli protesters and Netanyahu to family members in a ‘squabble’


(New York Jewish Week) — At a pre-High Holidays roundtable on Tuesday night, Eric Adams compared Israeli antigovernment protesters and the prime minister they detest to quarreling relatives, describing the social strife in Israel as a situation where “family members squabble.”

“You disagree or agree with them, you clearly understand that they love Israel,” the mayor told the gathering, discussing his meetings with both leaders of the protest movement and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his three-day trip to Israel last month.

“They love the Jewish faith, they love the Jewish people,” he said of the protest movement. “That same emotion came over me when I walked out of the room with the prime minister. One can say what they want, but if you look at the history of his relationship with Israel, he loves Israel.”

At the roundtable, Adams debriefed his trip to Israel and discussed what the city is doing to prepare for the High Holidays. The event, which took place at the offices of the UJA-Federation of New York in East Midtown, was attended by about 100 people, including his Jewish Advisory Council and invited guests.

“We are all dependent on the survival of Israel because connected to the survival of Israel is the future of how we’re going to survive some of the major challenges that we’re facing across the globe,” Adams said. He said that he found visits to the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, to be the most moving parts of his trip, which was his first as New York City mayor. He had previously visited twice as Brooklyn Borough President.

The mayor also spoke about antisemitism, which he said “is not just relegated to Borough Park, Williamsburg, Flatbush or Rockaway,” neighborhoods with large Jewish populations. “You’re seeing the ugly head of antisemitism spread throughout the entire globe,” he said.

He encouraged those in the room to connect with young people and bridge divides across communities.

“Look at the hate that’s coming up from young people,” he said. “We have to start anew. Your sons must know my sons. We must go after social media, we must utilize our partnership with the music industry, the sport industry and the entertainment industry and start sending out new messages. We must find creative ways to come together.”

Adams and his first deputy police commissioner, Tania Kinsella, also reviewed measures the city is taking to heighten security during the upcoming High Holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashanah on the night of Friday, Sept. 15. Adams said that the city will increase police presence and monitor social media to identify any potential threats, but added that officials “are very careful about not letting the bad guys know exactly what we’re doing. We have a full operation out there. We know the significance of the days that are in front of us.”

“No one in New York City should feel like they can’t practice their religion because they’re scared they can’t go to this synagogue because they’re scared,” Kinsella said. “I don’t even want you to have that thought in your mind, because we take it seriously and we’re proactive in making sure that we drive out hate from our community and our cities.”

Adams also boasted about some of his accomplishments as mayor, including increased subway ridership, taking guns off the street and paying for college for children in foster care. He said he was inspired by values he sees demonstrated in the Jewish community.

“We are who we are because of your community,” he said. “What mystifies me is that built into your culture is giving back. Even while you were in the midst of your own battles, you knew that if you deposited into the social bank of life, you would be able to withdraw the dividends as needed for your own community.”

Using one of his signature phrases, he added, “You’re a symbol of what’s great about the greatest race alive, and that’s the human race.”