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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul apologizes for using Canada-Hamas analogy in defending Israel

By Zenebou Sylla, CNN

(CNN) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has apologized for remarks made earlier this week in which she suggested that Israel has the right to destroy Gaza in response to the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

In a keynote address Thursday at a Jewish philanthropy event in New York City, the Democratic governor said Hamas “must be stopped,” video posted on social media shows, and went on to draw an analogy between Canada and Hamas.

“If Canada someday ever attacked Buffalo, I’m sorry my friends, there would be no Canada the next day, right, right?” Hochul said at the UJA Federation of New York lawyers division annual event, referring to her hometown. “But think about that, that is a natural reaction. You have a right to defend yourself and to make sure it never happens again, and that is Israel’s right.”

In a statement shared with CNN late Saturday, Hochul apologized for her “poor choice of words” and for the use of an “inappropriate analogy that I now realize could be hurtful to members of our community.”

“While I have been clear in my support of Israel’s right to self-defense, I have also repeatedly said and continue to believe that Palestinian civilian casualties should be avoided and that more humanitarian aid must go to the people of Gaza,” she said.

Hochul’s remarks Thursday drew condemnation from several Democrats and left-wing groups.

The Jewish Voice for Peace chapter in Buffalo referred to the comments as “disgusting.”

“We, your Jewish constituents in Buffalo NY, are beyond appalled, @GovKathyHochul,” the group said in a post on X.

New York state Assembly member Zohran Mamdani said on social media that Hochul was “justifying genocide, while laughing. Disgusting.”

New York City Council member Shahana Hanif said she would not accept Hochul’s apology.

“I need to see changed behavior. I will not be forgiving you at this time,” Hanif wrote Saturday on social media.

The UJA Federation of New York, meanwhile, thanked the governor Thursday for “always standing with the Jewish community and against antisemitism and hate in New York.”

“There’s no group of people more resilient than the Jewish people throughout history,” the organization said in a post on social media.

Hochul ascended to the New York governor’s office in 2021, becoming the state’s first female governor. She succeeded her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid multiple scandals. Hochul won election to a full term in 2022.

CNN’s Kaanita Iyer contributed to this report.

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