To the editor:
My name is Gustavo Rivera. I have been a state senator proudly representing the Northwest Bronx for the last 11 years.
In that time, I have fought to protect and advance the human rights of New Yorkers by leading the fight to provide universal health care for every New Yorker. By ensuring senior citizens are not neglected or forgotten. By helping to keep thousands of Bronxites in their homes by consistently helping my constituents secure the social services to which they are entitled. By defending women’s rights and civil rights. And by working to make public transit cleaner and more reliable.
Recent changes to the district lines are bringing new communities into my district, including one of New York’s most vibrant Jewish communities. I’m excited about the opportunity to represent Riverdale and other neighbors in the state senate. Unfortunately, my opponents’ supporters have been distorting my positions on several critical issues.
I’d like to set the record straight.
I strongly believe the state of Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and I do not support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. I also believe our right to free speech is a cornerstone of political discussion in our country, even when I object to the subject matter.
My votes on this — particularly in academic settings — are consistent with this belief.
As a New York state senator, I do not directly engage in foreign policy. But as an elected official, a community leader, and an educator, I have a responsibility not only to my Jewish neighbors and friends, but to everyone in the Bronx, to foster a safe environment.
My role is to ensure we are all protected from hatred and attacks, and to confront antisemitism, especially when it hits so close to home in the Riverdale community.
When someone attacks a house of worship, it is not merely an act of vandalism. When someone assaults another because they belong to the Jewish community, we must call it what it is: a hate crime. When we see a rise in antisemitic language, we have a responsibility to stand with the Jewish community and strongly reject hate speech, which is antithetical to our core values as New Yorkers.
I will always confront such actions as violence against our community and make sure we show up to protect each person living in the Bronx.
Ultimately, I know that my job is to serve the community I represent. I believe my public service for more than a decade clearly demonstrates that I will always be accountable to the Bronxites who I work for. I look forward to getting to know all of my new neighbors and to work along with them to make sure we can have a Bronx that we can all be proud of and that is safe for all.
The author is a state senator representing the 33rd District