Why didn’t New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio want members of the press at his meeting with AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel organization? According to Capital New York, the Thursday night meeting was left off the newly-seated mayor’s schedule, and when a reporter from the outlet snuck his way in, he was escorted out by security.
A brief recording obtained by the reporter indicates de Blasio had nothing but kind words for AIPAC, saying America has “no greater ally on earth” than Israel, “and that’s something we can say proudly.”
“Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel,” de Blasio remarked, adding that AIPAC will always have “a friend and ally at city hall.”
You can listen to the complete audio below, though it should be noted that it appears to be edited:
So why didn’t de Blasio want the press and the city to know about the meeting? Gawker’s J.K. Trotter has implied that perhaps the mayor doesn’t want his pro-Israel stance to be publicized.
“Bill de Blasio wants you to know he shovels his own snow-encrusted sidewalk, arranging feel-good photo-ops to show off his civic pride,” Trotter wrote. “The New York mayor feels a bit differently, however, about wooing the powerful pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, whose members he spoke to in a Manhattan hotel on Thursday night, for a speech omitted from his public itinerary.”
But that’s certainly not the only explanation.
The mayor has been hounded by the press since taking office, and has become embroiled in a small controversy with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding raising taxes for universal pre-kindergarten. Furthermore, many aren’t pleased with the way de Blasio has dealt with the snow that has pounded New York since his election, accusing him of not clearing the snow on the wealthy Upper East Side of Manhattan with sufficient rapidity.
Perhaps the mayor simply didn’t want his meeting with AIPAC overshadowed by questions about unrelated controversies. Among the religious demographics surveyed by The New York Times in exit polls on Election Day, none had a lower turnout for de Blasio than Jews. It is certainly possible that de Blasio wanted to start off on the right foot with AIPAC, free from unrelated distractions.