Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t need an introduction to know he was among friends at the Jewish Community Relations Council Gala Tuesday night.
But Janice Shorenstein, the group’s president, obliged anyway, presenting him as “someone all of you know, the wonderful Michael Bloomberg!”
And Bloomberg delivered, reminding a 500-person crowd eating kosher hot dogs and sushi at the sumptuous Pierre Hotel on East 61st St. why he’s their man. Starting, of course, with stories about the shelling he endured on a junket to Israel in the midst of January’s conflict in Gaza and continuing with what everyone expected to hear.
“The first thing any country has an obligation to do is protect their people. And you can’t negotiate with terrorists,” Bloomberg told the JCRC, an umbrella organization founded to “protect and defend Jewish interests.”
Bloomberg had somber criticism for the people who “sadly… want peace and prosperity for themselves,” but aren’t willing to fight for it on the behalf of others, which drew admiring intakes of breath from those assembled.
The Observer also spotted Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer among those working the room, as well as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who beamed back at the mayor as he recounted their last month together on the St. Patricks Day parade circuit. (“She’s about as Jewish as I am Irish, but in this business, you’re both!”)
Notable for his absence was comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, who had said he would attend the thousand-dollar-per-head event, but had not checked in by the time guests began filtering from the reception to the awards program that followed.
Bloomberg took the chance to hammer home some talking points aboutlower crime rates and rising school test scores, which he attributed to mayoral control of the education system.
“Everything’s going in the right direction, and we can’t let entrenched interests in Albany take that away,” Bloomberg said. Once more, the audience kvelled.