Andrew Yang issued a statement Wednesday in an attempt to defuse the controversy over a pro-Israel tweet he posted in the wake of escalating violence in the country and the Gaza Strip. The tweet outraged many on the left for failing to express any solidarity with the Palestinian people or to recognize the victims of Israeli air strikes. Clashes between the Israeli military and Gaza militants in recent days have killed 53 Palestinians, including 14 children; six Israelis have died, including one child, per the AP.
In the statement, Yang said he spoke with some of his campaign volunteers who were upset about what he wrote.
“They felt that my tweet was overly simplistic in my treatment of a conflict that has a long and complex history full of tragedies. And they felt it failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering on both sides,” Yang said. “They were, of course, correct.”
He continued, “I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time as I do for every Israeli. Suffering and pain and violence and death suffered by anyone hurts us all. All people want to be able to live in peace. We all want that for ourselves and our children.”
On Monday, Yang tweeted, “I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists. The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”
The tweet received praise from several prominent Republicans, including former Trump adviser Stephen Miller and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who shared Yang’s words, adding, “Bravo to Yang for opposing the rabidly pro-Hamas & anti-Israel attacks from fellow Dems Omar & Tlaib.”
Criticism of Yang’s words followed him to the campaign trail Tuesday. Though he was slated to distribute groceries at the Astoria Welfare Society ahead of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the event was suddenly no longer on his schedule. When asked by NY1 why he wasn’t making the stop, Yang said, “The organizers of the event decided it would be better if we did not attend and we were happy to abide by their wishes.”
Politico reported that one man, Abid Rahman of Astoria, directly confronted Yang while he was out campaigning, saying, “[One of the] holiest nights and [they] injured hundreds of people, women, inside of the holiest mosque, one of the holiest mosques, and you’re supporting that and you wanna be mayor of my city, wanna be my mayor? Hell no!”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who hasn’t officially endorsed anyone in the mayoral race, tweeted about the moment, saying, “Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked.”
She added, “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”
Though comments by Yang, the front-runner in the race, received most of the attention, he wasn’t the only mayoral candidate to address the conflict. Ray McGuire tweeted Monday, “On this Yom Yerushalayim, I stand proudly with Israel.” On the same day, Eric Adams tweeted, “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the people [of] Israel at this time of crisis.”
Dianne Morales directly mentioned Palestine in her statement, writing, “Our world needs leaders who recognize humanity and the dignity of all lives. Whether in NYC, Colombia, Brazil, or Israel-Palestine, state violence is wrong. Targeting civilians is wrong. Killing children is wrong. Full stop.”