NYC Public Advocate’s Statement On The Attacks In The Middle East And Response In New York City

October 11th, 2023

"No words I can say will shape or stop the endless cycles of violence in Israel and Palestine, and few come amid this unspeakable massacre. I vehemently condemn the attacks on innocent civilians by Hamas that have stolen the lives of so many, and I mourn with the New Yorkers and people worldwide who see this senseless death and feel this loss as their own.

"I see the inhumanity of slaughter, and can be guided only by the humanity of grief. Borders and backgrounds do not determine or define humanity, and grief looks the same across them all. Pain looks the same. Death looks the same. And as it has for decades, pain and death will only continue in the region, escalated exponentially in the wake of this attack.

"Political alignment cannot be a filter against compassion, outrage, or horror in the face of carnage. Rallies in the immediate aftermath of attacks that seemingly glorify deaths, like the one in Times Square, were unseemly, ill-placed and repugnant. Many of the responses in our city to unspeakable violence overseas have been to speak in rash, reactionary, and dehumanizing ways, where compassion is determined by creed. I understand the emotions that drive these responses, but they too can be dangerous.

"Massacre of innocent people is indefensible. War is not something to egg on. Death is not something to excuse. Oppression is not something to overlook. As I write this, unspeakable harm and violence is being wrought on innocent people in Gaza caught in cycles of violence.

"We can, we have to be able to, at once grieve the hundreds of innocent lives taken in Israel, and oppose the escalating violence of retaliation, the endless war, the systemic violence and oppression of Palestinians too often ignored, excused, or condoned. I refuse to believe that it is impossible to express all of these sentiments, and I believe that in grief, we must provide space and support for people to cry out in their personal and cultural pain. Particularly in a city of great diversity and constituencies we are honored to represent, that is the space that is needed, that our leaders should be building. Doing so will always invite criticism, but ultimately be the best and only way to see progress. 

"I understand the seeming impossibility of that effort, yet I urge us all to recognize humanity even in opponents —conflict looks different, war looks different, through a lens of humanity. Through that lens, peace must be the only goal.

"Violence begets violence, and only peace can overcome it. I pray for comfort in this moment, an end to both the immediate and the underlying violence, and somehow, for lasting peace."

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