The delegation to Israel that was led by Governor Andrew Cuomo returned to New York early Friday morning, and while the group was on the ground in Israel for just under thirty hours, plenty was packed into its schedule. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
For Andrew Cuomo, it was the kind of platform politically ambitious governors only dream of: the international stage, on the same footing as a world leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a reminder that Middle East politics can be tricky, though, Netanyahu went on to make remarks in Hebrew. A person who speaks Hebrew noted they were much stronger than what was said in English.
Cuomo recognized that Netanyahu, and other Israeli leaders who met with the delegation, had their own motives.
"This is a country at war, and they want friends, and they want friends who are standing up loudly," he said.
The pacing of the trip was kinetic as Cuomo and his team moved quickly from stop to stop, spending little time in each place. They did not meet with any Palestinians who may have offered an opposing view.
"In this trip, I don't know that we could have gotten anything more done in this trip than we did," Cuomo said. "We didn't even get a chance to sleep on this trip, but we did see a lot."
Some of the sites the delegation visited were sobering. One such site was a Kibbutz about a mile from the security fence that separates Israel from Gaza, about 2.2 miles from the center of Gaza. A number of similar tunnels have been discovered in recent days. This one was out in the middle of a field, completely undetectable.
"I came here with a very strong commitment to the state of Israel, basically where I come from. And of course, I'm the grandson of Holocaust survivors. But seeing this firsthand really has to double down your commitment," said state Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.
World-renowned shoemaker Kenneth Cole, who is married to one of Cuomo's sisters, was part of the delegation. He noted to reporters that his Twitter account had lit up with criticism about the visit.
"In the court of public opinion today, whereas in the past it was more the quality of the message, today, the quantity of the message seems to prevail very often, and that's because everybody today has a platform and everybody has the ability to be heard," Cole said.
The governor largely brushed off any criticism and seemed to relish his new role in the international spotlight.