I would not think that in the Age of Trump, it would take a Democratic politician to set a record for cynical political hackery.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo has done it.
He recently flew in (and out) of Israel to show his concern over what he referred to as a “wave of anti-semitism” that has rolled over the United States in recent days, with dozens of bomb threats to Jewish institutions, desecration of cemeteries and a flood of threats against Jews on social media.
Cuomo’s concern is commendable but why the trip to Israel?
Here is what he told the New York Times about his trip. “Yeah, you could go down the block to a temple but if you are really sincere you do more. You act more boldly, And the actions should be commensurate with the grievances.”
Commensurate with the grievances? What does that mean?
Maybe that instead of simply getting in his limousine or plane and visiting Americans affected by the threats, he will take a ten hour plane ride and go 6,000 miles away from the recipients of the threats. In fact, going “down the block to a temple” is the “commensurate” thing to do. Especially because as governor of New York he can actually help defend American Jews and other endangered minorities here in America, even in his own New York, where the threats are being received.
But Israel? It has the Israel Defense Forces to defend Jews in the one place in the world where Jews not only are not a threatened minority but a powerful majority.
Israel has its problems, but anti-semitic threats to Jewish institutions is not one of them. Implying that Israeli Jews are an imperiled minority, dependent on an American governor for protection, is downright insulting. Israel is not perfect but domestic anti-semitism is something it does not have to worry about. Moreover, sad to say, it has given little indication that it is much troubled by our problems here. So why the in-and-out photo op in Jerusalem?
Here is my guess. Cuomo went to Israel because he believes that any trip there, on any pretense, will help him raise money from the “pro-Israel” lobby (AIPAC and its friends) for a future campaign for president. If there was an “anti anti-semitism” lobby to help fund his campaign, he would be visiting American Jewish communities that have had their kids evacuated from their schools due to bomb threats. Or, like Vice President Pence (whose boss seems incapable of a full-throated denunciation of anti-semitism), he would visit the St. Louis Jewish community that is in real pain because its cemetery was desecrated. But there is no money to be raised from fighting domestic anti-semitism so it’s off to Israel Cuomo goes. Talk about crass.
Cuomo is show-boating in the tradition of every American politician who makes a point of professing love for Israel at every opportunity. That is an old story. Cuomo’s ridiculous addition to that tiresome ritual is taking off for Israel to show his solidarity with Jewish victims here. He is probably the very first politician to do that. How transparent can you get.
And you wonder why most Americans despise politicians.