Israel At 60

Craig M. Johnson

May 11, 2008

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a county-sponsored ceremony commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the state of Israel.

It was a great event that lent itself to a reflection on the importance of this young nation, as both a democracy and a homeland for a people that have traditionally had no place to call their own.

With a large number of people of the Jewish faith (myself included) that live in Nassau, the continued prosperity of Israel is a significant local issue.

It is also a democracy in a region of the world where such governments are rare. Israel has had its mettle tested again and again through threats from just outside of its borders.

As citizens of the United States, itself still a fledgling democracy, and as New Yorkers, we must do everything within our power to make sure that Israel remains a strong and flourishing state.

I am proud of our representatives in Washington, particularly U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, who make sure that our country's commitment for Israel remains unwavering.

I am equally proud of our Comptroller, Great Neck native Tom DiNapoli, who earlier this year adopted a policy of divesting state pension funds from companies that conduct business with the Iranian government.

Tom's bold step was in the same spirit of legislation, The Iranian Economic Divestment Act, (S5913), that I had introduced last spring.

Iran is an extremist regime that has unabashedly promoted terrorism and has an awful human rights record. The Iranian government has also pursued a nuclear program that it unconvincingly maintains is for peaceful purposes, while its president says that Israel should be 'wiped off the map.'

It would be simply inexcusable to have any of our hard-earned pension money benefit this current Iranian government in any way.

I thank our Comptroller for taking this strong stance. I will continue to push to get my legislation passed in the legislature.

Future comptrollers may not be as courageous as our current one, and for that reason, I believe that this measure is still vital and necessary.

Making the Economic Divestment Act law is one way that New York can contribute to the safety of Israel, the region, and all other nations.

As history has proved time and time again: We stand strongest together. I look forward to continuing this great partnership between New York State, the United States, and Israel for another 60 years and beyond.