Over the weekend, Michael Bloomberg put himself on the international stage with a one-day trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and distributed dolls to children injured by the week-old conflict between Israel and Hamas.
It was his first trip to Israel in two years.
Bloomberg traveled with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Representative Gary Ackerman, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island.
Democratic political consultant Evan Stavisky said the trip was “a personal statement” for Bloomberg and “obviously smart politics–particularly when you bring the Congress’ ‘Maven of the Middle East’ and the police commissioner. It’s one of those times when the right thing to do is also the right political thing to do.”
During a press conference in Ashkelon, Bloomberg told reporters it was important that he and others visit the country now. “For the people of Israel it says that others care,” and that, “If we don’t stand up against terrorists we’re going to be victims ourselves.”
During a televised interview with CNN from Tel Aviv, Bloomberg was asked about possible solutions to the conflict.”Look, I don’t work for the State Department, or for the military, for America or for Israel,” he said. “And it’s up to them to find a peaceful solution.”