A message from the Public Advocate

By Jumaane Williams

No words I can say will shape or stop the endless cycles of violence in Israel and Palestine, and few come amid the unspeakable loss in this moment. I vehemently condemn the abhorrent attacks on innocent civilians by Hamas that have stolen the lives of so many, and I mourn with the New Yorkers and people worldwide who see this senseless death and feel this loss as their own. I witness the ongoing violence in Gaza, and my heart and soul ache with each image.

I see the inhumanity of slaughter, and can be guided only by the humanity of grief. Borders and backgrounds do not determine or define humanity, and grief looks the same across them all. I have been to vigils, memorials, synagogues and mosques across our city in the last several weeks, and pain looks the same. Death looks the same.

We can, we have to be able to, at once grieve the hundreds of innocent lives taken in Israel, and oppose the escalating violence of retaliation, the endless war, the systemic violence and oppression of Palestinians too often ignored, excused, or condoned. I refuse to believe that it is impossible to express all of these sentiments, and I believe that in grief, we must provide space and support for people to cry out in their personal and cultural pain. I urge us all to recognize humanity even in opponents—conflict looks different, war looks different, through a lens of humanity. Through that lens, peace must be the only goal.

The situation also continues to evolve in New York City, where so many people are afraid in our city today: Jewish and Israeli New Yorkers, Palestinian and Muslim New Yorkers, and New Yorkers who want to express their support for the people closest to this pain. It is our goal to help New Yorkers be and feel safe during this moment of tragedy and grief. Most of us in New York do not have the direct ability to end violence overseas, but we must do what we can, with what we have, to comfort our neighbors and prevent escalation in our city.

To that end, our team has gathered material resources for New Yorkers navigating a complex and painful situation. Visit advocate.nyc.gov/blog

Violence begets violence, and only peace can overcome it. I pray for comfort in this moment, an end to both the immediate and the underlying violence, and somehow, for lasting peace.