Until this week I generally associated former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with his anti-gun and anti-sugary drink crusades. No more. This week he acted with singular courage and determination, reaching out to support Israel at a time our own government was dealing a victory to Hamas. Bloomberg flew to Israel on El Al airlines to protest the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on domestic carriers flights to Ben Gurion, a move promptly copied by European air carriers. It was a brave and meaningful act of leadership, something entirely missing from the administration’s foreign policy these days.
Ben-Gurion is the best protected airport in the world, and the recent rocket attacks by Hamas have prompted the Israeli government to take additional security precautions at the airport. Israel would not keep Ben-Gurion open if it were not secure.
Hamas would like nothing more than to close down Ben-Gurion, isolating Israel from the international community and seriously damaging its economy. By prohibiting U.S. carriers from flying into Ben-Gurion, the FAA handed Hamas a significant victory — one that the group will undoubtedly attempt to repeat. The FAA has, regrettably, succeeded only in emboldening Hamas. . . .
When terrorist plots to attack the New York City’s] subway emerged, as they would from time to time, I made sure to be seen riding it to work, as usual — and encouraged New Yorkers to keep doing so as well. And we responded to the devastating aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks by opening the streets of Lower Manhattan as quickly as we possibly could.
In each case, we refused to allow the possibility of additional terrorist attacks to deter us from carrying on with our everyday lives. Instead, we invested heavily in resources and personnel to prevent attacks and protect critical infrastructure, as Israel has done, and we asked the world to stand with us by visiting New York City, which people did in record numbers.
After extending the ban for 24 hours, the FAA lifted it. Bloomberg should be credited, as a private but visible citizen with expertise in anti-terror measures, with delegitimizing the ban. Moreover, he spoke in terms our president has refused to: “During my brief time in Israel, I met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. I thanked them for standing with us after the Sept. 11 attacks and offered my strong support for their actions in response to the attacks by Hamas.” Now, there’s an idea: recognizing that we share with Israel common enemies and common interests in decapitating terror networks. He continued, “Every country has a right to defend its borders from enemies, and Israel was entirely justified in crossing into Gaza to destroy the tunnels and rockets that threaten its sovereignty. I know what I would want my government to do if the U.S. was attacked by a rocket from above or via a tunnel from below; I think most Americans do, too.”
For his moral clarity and courage, we can say, well done Mayor Bloomberg.