Why is New York City Mayor Eric Adams visiting Israel?

“We have an unbreakable bond, New York and Israel,” Mayor Adams said during his trip.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks before the world's largest Hanukkah Menorah is lit on the first night of Hanukkah at Grand Army Plaza on December 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

This past Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams posted a video on social media while boarding a flight to Israel, his third trip to the country and his first as mayor.

In the clip, Adams said he planned to learn about Israel’s technological advancements, visit religious sites, and discuss “combined efforts to combat antisemitism.”

The mayor traveled to Jerusalem, where he stayed until Wednesday. He then heads to Tel Aviv and returns to New York on Thursday. So, why is the mayor of New York City visiting Israel? Here’s everything we know about the trip.

What does the mayor’s itinerary look like?

On Tuesday, the mayor met privately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the protest movement against the judicial overhaul.

On Wednesday, he met with Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog. He also visited the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Yad Vashem during the trip, which was sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Why is Mayor Adams visiting Israel?

Adams tweeted that the purpose of his trip is to deepen “unbreakable bonds” shared by New York City and Israel.

In an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post ahead of the trip, Adams said he sought to exchange best practices for “promoting goodwill among diverse people and keeping all communities safe.” 

The politician also said he wanted to learn how Israel is able to “absorb and integrate thousands of immigrants.”

Adams isn’t the first New York City mayor to visit Israel during his tenure — it’s a longstanding tradition. His predecessor Bill de Blasio traveled to the country and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015. Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited in 2009 and met with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

What are Mayor Adams’ views on Israel?

Adams, who has visited Israel twice before, told reporters on Tuesday that “it’s no secret how much I love this nation and what it represents.”

In 2021, during his mayoral campaign, Adams went so far as to tell Mishpacha Magazine that he wanted to retire in the Golan Heights. “I love the people of Israel, the food, the culture, the dance, everything about Israel,” he said.

However, on Monday, he clarified to the New York Times that Israel is merely one of eight places he is considering retiring.

The mayor was clear that he would not weigh in on Israel’s controversial judicial overhaul, telling reporters: “I wanted to be here not to interfere, but just to learn…The people of Israel will make the determination of how they want to move forward.”

“I have many challenges in my city, and I wouldn’t want someone to come in and interfere in how I work them out,” Adams added.

How is Mayor Adams addressing rising antisemitism in New York City?

Speaking at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Adams said, “New York City has one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel. It is imperative that…I send a very clear and loud message…and reinforce our determination to stamp out antisemitism.”

Adams has given “clear directions to the commissioner and our hate crime unit that we will vigorously investigate and arrest those that commit antisemitic acts,” he told reporters during the trip.

According to an Anti-Defamation League report, New York state was the site of 580 antisemitic incidents in 2022, the highest in the country and a 39% increase from the year before.

Responding to this, the mayor introduced New York’s first-ever Jewish Advisory Council in June. Its 37 members — including rabbis, activists, and community members — will address issues facing Jewish New Yorkers, such as increasing antisemitism, education, and quality of life.

Back in February, Adams spoke out against antisemitism following a neo-Nazi protest outside a performance of the Broadway show “Parade.” The show tells the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder.

Making a special appearance at a later performance, Adams told the audience that there was no place for hate in New York City. “We have the largest Jewish population outside of Tel Aviv. When you come out and really cross-pollinate ideas and culture, that’s the beauty and a symbol of New York City,” he said.

Reactions to Mayor Eric Adams’ trip to Israel

David Greenfield, the leader of the anti-poverty Jewish group Met Council, who is traveling with Adams, praised the mayor’s trip.

He told the New York Times that it was “certainly appropriate for the mayor of New York City, who represents more Jews and Holocaust survivors than any other city in the world, to meet with the prime minister of Israel.”

“In certain respects, the mayor of New York City is treated as a head of state in Israel,” Greenfield added. “I think he’ll be warmly received because he’s very publicly pro-Jewish and pro-Israel.”

However, J Street saw it differently, with a spokesperson telling Politico, “We hope the mayor takes the opportunity to make clear to the prime minister that Israel’s friends in New York and around the world are aghast at his government’s assault on Israel’s democracy.”

Meanwhile, Esther Fuchs, a political science professor at Columbia University, noted the political factors at play, as Adams gears up for his reelection campaign in 2025.

“It’s pretty clear that Adams would like to shut down a possible primary challenge, and so he’s working to put together his coalition,” Fuchs told The New York Times. “While he has strong ties with the ultra-Orthodox community, those groups do not constitute all of the Jewish voters in New York. The trip is a demonstration of respect for the Jewish community.”

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