New York Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson touted his relationship with the Jewish community in a recent interview with The Algemeiner and he says he has the goods to prove it. He grew up in a largely Jewish neighborhood, worked for a Jewish congressman, visited Israel twice and was the first New York City Comptroller to invest in Israel Bonds. It is a relationship that he says goes “back to the mid-1960’s when I was probably 10 or 12 years old.”
He talks with ease about Jewish holidays: “I’ve been to a number of services in different people’s homes over the years and read from the Haggadah.” Various Chasidic sects: “I had the chance to meet one of the leaders from Bobov in Boro Park. There were also people there from Williamsburg, from Satmar, from different factions in Satmar. So I understand it pretty well.” He even has an opinion on the exorbitant price of matzah, an issue which he said would be beyond his reach if elected mayor: “I don’t know if even a mayor can have anything to do with that.”
But Thompson speaks most passionately about his experiences in Israel. He has visited the Jewish state twice, both times as New York City Comptroller, and witnessed some elements of Israeli life firsthand.
His first trip was in 2002 in the throes of the infamous Arab terror bombing rampage of the second Intifada. He came to show solidarity he says, and met with victims of terror. “I still remember young girls who were 12, 13 and 14 talking about how they did sleepovers,” he said, “they took photos […] of everyone who was there, so in case something happened to one of them everyone would remember them, remember what they looked like.” Now over ten years late he says: “I never forgot that.”
“I mean, I was there, the King David Hotel was empty,” he said, remarking on how the Intifada affected daily life in Israel. “And the thing that always stayed with me – in spite of that,” he added, was that “people went about their business each and every day and refused to be scared, refused to be terrorized.”
On a trip to visit some West Bank towns, Thompson experienced first hand what many Israelis endure daily. “You get in basically an armored bus, because people take shots at that bus as they go to the settlements all the time,” he said.
As Comptroller Thompson was fiscally engaged in Israel related matters as well. “I was the first comptroller to invest directly in Israel bonds and I think in the end we probably had somewhere between $30 and $50 million that we had invested in,” he proudly declared.
Read more at THE ALGEMEINER.