In the Holy Land: Gov. Cuomo sits down for exclusive News 12 interview during Israel trip

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News 12’s Tara Rosenblum had the rare opportunity to get an exclusive interview with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his whirlwind two-day trip to Israel last week. 

News 12 was the only American TV station along for the journey. Cuomo discussed a wide range of topics during the interview, including his blueprint to tackle hate at home, his top presidential pick for 2020 and how talks to revive the Amazon deal in New York are going.

PODCAST: Listen to more of Tara's conversation with Gov. Cuomo in this Turn To Tara report for News 12 Talks:

Cuomo told Rosenblum that the battle against hate hits close to home for a variety of reasons. He says two of his sisters, who live in New York, married Jewish men. Cuomo says his childhood was also tainted with painful memories. He says he had people ask him what role he was in “The Godfather” movie because he was Italian. The governor says he also heard about hate from his grandparents.

 “I felt the pain myself. I saw my grandparents cry when they would talk about the abuse that they went through and the stereotypes that they went through,” he says.

Cuomo refused to assign blame to anyone, but expressed outrage over the skyrocketing anti-Semitism in the United States, and especially in New York where attacks against Jewish people doubled last year. The problem is so worrisome now that it’s the focal point of a News 12 networkwide investigation, “Hate at Home.”

A sample of incidents in the News 12 database include neo-Nazi recruitments at local colleges, swastikas in elementary schools and death threats to Jewish politicians.

Rosenblum asked the governor what he and New Yorkers can do to eliminate this culture of hate.

“It violates the law, and the law is the law and we need to be more aggressive and more effective in enforcing the law,” he says. “This is not going be taken lightly. We will investigate. We will prosecute, and if you deserve it, you will go to jail.”

The governor's mission in Israel was two-fold: He not only came as a show of solidarity with Jewish families across New York, but he also traveled to talk technology.

“The future for us in New York is going to be growth in the tech economy,” says Cuomo.

At a roundtable discussion with top Israeli entrepreneurs, the governor announced a $1 billion incentive for the development of a navigation system for New York’s century-old MTA train technology.

Cuomo says he is also still “fuming” over Amazon’s pullout from New York.

“We won a national competition. Then, the foolishness of our own politics after we won. We actually turned them down politically believe it or not. Twenty-five thousand jobs. I hate to about it,” he says.

Cuomo says he is trying to bring them back, but the possibility is “highly, highly, highly improbable.”

News 12’s conversation played out at the same time the Democratic White House hopefuls were debating in Miami. Cuomo made it clear who has his support.

“I look for heart as much as head. That's what I get from Joe Biden,” he says.

Cuomo also discussed the women he admired most – on the 100th anniversary of Congress passing the 19th Amendment and at a time when there are more women in Congress than ever before. He named Westchester neighbor Hillary Clinton, Judith Kay, the first woman to become head of the Court of Appeals, and Janet DiFiore, the former Westchester County district attorney and chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

But Cuomo says his three favorite women were with him on the trip to Israel – his daughters.

“They wanted to make this statement, ‘I’m going to Israel as a sign of their love for Israel,’” he says.

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