Immediate Call for Accountability and Reflection on Governor’s Reprehensible Remarks

In the name of the Most Compassionate and Merciful,

To Governor Hochul:

The Islamic Leadership Council of New York, representing over 100 mosques and Islamic organizations, writes to express our strong disapproval of the callous and reprehensible remarks you made at a Jewish philanthropy event in New York City. During this event, you implied that Israel would be justified in destroying Gaza in response to attacks. Such a stance, particularly when articulated in a context suggesting that, in response to a hypothetical attack on Buffalo by Canada, “If Canada someday ever attacked Buffalo, I’m sorry, my friends, there would be no Canada the next day,” trivializes the dire situation in Gaza. This analogy conveys a ‘natural reaction’ narrative that, in reality, leads to the loss of innocent lives and extensive destruction, in stark contradiction to international norms on retaliation and conflict resolution. Furthermore, we must voice our frustration with the narrative that incorrectly marks the beginning of this conflict on October 7, 2023, ignoring its deep roots stretching back decades, often overlooked or tacitly propagated by the consecutive regimes in Israel invoking self-defense.

As of this writing, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 29,000, predominantly comprising women and children. The devastation has not spared the sacred spaces of both Muslims and Christians; numerous mosques and churches have been reduced to rubble, alongside hospitals that once served as sanctuaries of healing. The destruction and suffering in Gaza challenge the conscience of the global community and demand a reevaluation of the narratives we choose to endorse or dispute.

Imagine, if you will, living in Gaza amidst such destruction and despair. Would the perspective you hold still remain unchanged? 

Your statements have reopened deep wounds and have starkly highlighted a narrative that devalues the lives of Palestinians, casting a shadow over the dignity and humanity of Muslims globally. This narrative, unfortunately, perpetuates the distressing implication that Muslim lives are somehow less worthy of protection and empathy. This reminds us of the past, when more than six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, the ongoing crisis in the Middle East is just the latest of many conflicts abroad that are taken out of context and used to dehumanize Muslims. The silence in response to our suffering speaks volumes, signaling a disregard for the sanctity of human life that we cannot, in good conscience, ignore.

We urge you to consider the impact of your words and policies on those who are living with the reality of the situation in Gaza. We seek more than retractions or apologies; we demand a critical reassessment of the narratives you propagate and the policies you support. True peace and understanding are founded on the recognition of the sanctity of every human life and the shared dignity of all people.

We demand that future dialogue and action be informed by empathy, justice, and a profound respect for the sanctity of human life. The resilience of the Palestinian people, their enduring hope amidst despair, demands no less from us all.