Andrew Yang clarifies ‘overly simplistic’ pro-Israel tweet after backlash

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New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang on Wednesday clarified an “overly simplistic” tweet supporting Israel that conservatives praised and pro-Palestinian activists denounced.

Mr. Yang, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, sparked the hashtag #YangSupportsGenocide after he tweeted Monday that he stood in solidarity with Israel as the country faced a barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza.

“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” he tweeted to his 1.9 million followers. “The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

Mr. Yang later told reporters that the tweet got him disinvited from an event celebrating Eid in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, where he was scheduled to distribute groceries to needy Muslim families.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, said it was “utterly shameful” for Mr. Yang to try to attend a Muslim event after his “chest-thumping statement” about Israel.

“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 tweeted. “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”

Mr. Yang tweeted a statement Wednesday morning clarifying his tweet after he said it had upset some volunteers from his campaign.

“They expressed to me that they follow and support me for a number of reasons, one is that I am a clear-headed person who follows facts,” he wrote. “The other is that I am a human being who stands for the universal values of fellowship and goodwill. 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.

“They were, of course, correct,” he continued. “I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before it’s time as I do for every Israeli. Suffering in 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. Support of a people does not make one blind to the pain and suffering of others. Again, most everyone simply wants to be able to live and pray in peace. And that is what we want as well. I join with millions around the world and praying that the current situation be resolved as quickly as possible, peacefully and with minimal suffering.”

Gaza-based Hamas militants fired rockets on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Wednesday. The airstrikes reportedly killed 35 Palestinians, including 10 children. The flare-up is the worst in Israeli-Palestinian tensions since 2014.

The fighting began over the weekend when Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. state department, and other Islamic militants fired more than 500 rockets into Israeli territory.

• Haris Alic contributed to this article.

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