Gov. Hochul says NY has ‘zero tolerance’ for hate, directs $75 million toward anti-hate policing

NEW YORK — Gov. Kathy Hochul declared in a rare address on Tuesday that New York State has “zero tolerance” for hate, outlining new anti-hate police investments appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of shared community and seeking to soothe Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers who have been rattled by threats as a bloody war rages in Israel and Gaza.

“We cannot let the fervor and passion of our beliefs devolve into a blind righteousness that cannot see different viewpoints,” Hochul said. “And the safety and security of New Yorkers cannot — and will not — be threatened without consequences.”

In remarks from Manhattan, Hochul laid out a series of steps she said the state would take to root out hate — directing $75 million toward the prevention of hate crimes, expanding the state police unit that monitors threats on social media, and ordering for a comprehensive review of anti-discrimination policies at the City University of New York.

Jonathan Lippman, the state’s former chief judge, will lead the review, which will serve as a roadmap for the state university system, Hochul said.

Describing New York as a guiding light that has pushed the nation forward on issues of equality for decades, Hochul urged New Yorkers not to backslide, and not to allow geopolitical passions push them into hatred.

“We cannot let hate and intimidation become normalized,” said Hochul, a Buffalo Democrat who has long made fighting discrimination a central focus of her administration. “We cannot risk losing our identity.”

The governor said New Yorkers had stood up for Muslims after 9/11, for Asian-Americans during the COVID years and for African Americans after the killing of George Floyd. And she said New Yorkers — including those who oppose Israel’s bloody offensive in Gaza — must now support the local Jewish community and stand against antisemitism.

Jewish New Yorkers are facing the largest jump in antisemitic hate crimes in decades, Hochul said. “Where are their allies now?” she asked rhetorically.

Hochul, who visited Israel earlier in October on a solidarity mission, has been criticized by some who have felt she has not sufficiently addressed the anxieties of Palestinian New Yorkers in recent weeks.

More than 8,000 people are said to have died in Gaza since Israel launched its attack on the enclave, after Hamas, which rules Gaza, conducted a ruthless rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,000 people.

In her speech Tuesday, the governor said that “for Jewish and Mulisms alike, the pain is deep,” and she acknowledged the viewpoint of the Israeli government. But she said opposition to Israeli policies should not prevent solidarity with Jewish New Yorkers.

“You can vigorously oppose Israel’s response following the attack on their people,” Hochul said, “But still be vigorously opposed to terrorism, Hamas, antisemitism and hate in all of its forms.”

The speech came after threats of violence were made against the Center for Jewish Living at Cornell University over the weekend, prompting cops to swarm the campus. Hochul visited Cornell on Monday.

At Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y., ominous threats were posted on Greekrank, a website for grading fraternities and sororities, according to The Cornell Daily Sun, the school’s newspaper. One post’s author said they intended to “shoot up” the Center for Jewish Living, according to a screenshot.

The New York State Police have assisted the Cornell Police in securing the Center for Jewish Living. The FBI said in a statement Monday that it was working to determine the credibility of the threats and to “take appropriate investigative action.”

New York State is home to an estimated 2 million Jews, the largest Jewish population outside Israel. At least one New Yorker, Omer Neutra, 22, of Long Island, was taken hostage in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

Hochul has often said her top priority is the safety of every New Yorker.

“We cannot allow any New Yorker to live in fear,” Hochul said. “For the day we are willing to accept that is the day that our moral compass has broken and spun out of control.”