At a recent event honoring Israeli Minister of Heritage Amichai Eliyahu from the Otzma Yehudit Party, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman lamented the fact that Israeli officials rarely visit the county.
Nassau County should be one of the first places that members of the Netanyahu government consider visiting. Compared to Manhattan, where most Israeli ministers and members of Knesset tend to stay, Nassau County is much more homogeneous in its support for the current Israeli coalition.
Blakeman is the most powerful elected Republican in New York State and Jewish to boot. He is as pro-Israel as any elected official in the United States. I traveled to Israel with him in 2014 and I saw his love of Israel firsthand. He traveled extensively throughout Judea and Samaria, and made sure to meet with both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis.
New York State is home to the largest Jewish population in the United States, a population that has grown to 1,086,000 in the New York City area (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Manhattan) from 972,000 in 2001. Another 452,000 Jews live in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.
It is estimated that there are between 5.7 million to 10 million Jews in America. California is second to New York with 1.19 million Jews. Florida is third with 657,095 but its Jewish community is growing rapidly.
Nassau County is estimated to have close to 300,000 Jews and this community is also expanding. The majority of Jews in Nassau County are Orthodox and hold conservative views. The elections of Blakeman and Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) testify to this.
Supporters of Israel and especially supporters of the present Israeli government should make Nassau County a first-stop destination for Israeli diplomats, all the more so because it is close to JFK Airport. I fully expect more Israeli officials will come to Nassau County than ever before. It’s a win-win situation.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.