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Cuomo releases TV ad blasting campus protesters backing Hamas

‘We are at a crucial moment in history where antisemitism is spreading unchecked and support for Israel in this country is waning,’ said the former New York governor

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who founded a pro-Israel nonprofit last year as he considered a political comeback, released the group’s first television ad on Tuesday — 60 seconds that depicts some pro-Palestinian protesters as Hamas supporters.  

“Do they really know who they’re protesting for?” asks the unseen narrator of the ad, which describes Hamas kidnappings, killings and rapes in Southern Israel during its Oct. 7 attack. Cuomo does not appear in the ad, which also highlights Hamas militants’ pledges to kill Jews. “If you stand with Hamas, you stand with terror,” the ad concludes.  

Cuomo, a Democrat, resigned in 2021 after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, though he denied their allegations.

He founded the group, Never Again, NOW!, in March 2023, saying it would be called “Progressives for Israel.” That was before the Oct. 7 attack and the military offensive in Gaza that Israel launched in response; before the war killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

It was also before thousands of students protested the war on college campuses across the country, footage of which plays prominently in the ad. At the same time, antisemitism, some of it associated with the protests, has spiked.

Now, Cuomo said in a statement, the group will focus on debunking “lies and deception” about the war in Gaza Its website lists him as chair of the group, but it is not clear who its major funders are. 

“We are at a crucial moment in history where antisemitism is spreading unchecked and support for Israel in this country is waning,” Cuomo said. “There are protesters in the streets that are not merely pro-Palestinian — but embrace Hamas, a brutal terrorist organization.” 

The ad, slated to air on cable and broadcast television nationwide next week, aims to boost support for Israel among Democrats and younger Americans, who have recently shown a marked decrease in support for the Jewish state.

Some who follow New York politics closely thought Cuomo might challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — who is up for reelection this year — and now speculate that he might jump into the New York City mayor’s race next year.

Cuomo and Israel

The Jewish vote is important in New York State, where Jews represent about 10% of the electorate. Cuomo, 66, has been consistently vocal about his support for Israel.

He visited Israel three times in his decade-long tenure as governor. In 2016, he signed an executive order barring government business with any company that boycotts Israel “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary.” 

After Oct. 7, the former governor intensified his defense of Israel, including on his podcast, As A Matter of Fact With Andrew Cuomo. In November, Cuomo called for the deployment of the National Guard to protect Jewish centers and synagogues across New York State. And in a recent speech at the Harmonia Club, a private Jewish-funded group, Cuomo urged his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, to appoint a special prosecutor to enforce the state’s hate crime laws. 

Cuomo’s group said it plans to raise funds to keep the new ad running, launch another ad, and host a virtual symposium this summer about antisemitism on college campuses. Never Again, NOW! is also planning to deploy speakers to address Israel and antisemitism in lectures and in the media in the upcoming months.

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