Hochul apologizes after saying Israel 'has right to defend itself' with 'inappropriate' Canada analogy

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul apologizes for 'poor choice of words,' while still maintaining 'Israel’s right to self-defense'

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul apologized for recent remarks in which she said Israel "has a right to defend itself," while making what she later called an "inappropriate analogy" about Canada invading Buffalo, New York.

"Call out Hamas for what it is, and it is a terrorist organization that must be stopped. No one, no country should live with that threat, that specter over them," Hochul said Thursday during a speech at the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York, according to video shared on X. 

"And for those that don’t understand this dynamic here in our own state, in our own country, I’ll give you an example," she said. "I’m from Buffalo, anybody realize that? If Canada someday ever attacked Buffalo, I'm sorry my friends, there would be no Canada the next day. Right? I love Canada, but we did have the War of 1812, and they did burn Buffalo… so there might be a little conflict here. But think about that. That is a natural reaction. You have a right to defend yourself and to make sure it never happens again. And that is Israel’s right." 

Hochul later walked back her comments amid online backlash, apologizing in a statement to the New York Times on Friday. The governor claimed that she made an "inappropriate analogy" at the Jewish philanthropic event in New York City and apologized for her "poor choice of words."


Hochul at the podium during an unrelated press event

Gov. Kathy Hochul seen speaking at an unrelated press conference this month. She apologized Friday for remarks that implied Israel has a right to destroy Gaza.  (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

"While I have been clear in my support of Israel’s right to self-defense, I have also repeatedly said and continue to believe that Palestinian civilian casualties should be avoided and that more humanitarian aid must go to the people of Gaza," she told the Times. 

The apology comes after New York State Assemblyman Zohran Kwame Mamdani criticized the governor in a post on X.

"Governor Hochul justifying genocide, while laughing. Disgusting," Mamdani wrote, reacting to the clip of her speech at the annual United Jewish Appeal-Federation Lawyers Division event at the Pierre Hotel.

Jewish philanthropic leader with Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul, seen listening to Eric Goldstein from the UJA Federation of New York, previously announced $3 million would be allocated to Homeland Security's Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit's Threat Assessment and Management training to all colleges and universities in New York state. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

The UJA-Federation thanked Hochul in a post Thursday night for her attendance and "for always standing with the Jewish community and against antisemitism and hate in New York."

Hochul's speech came as Israel has been ramping up strikes across Gaza in recent days. The United States, Israel's top ally, meanwhile, said it would veto another draft U.N. cease-fire resolution.


The U.S. instead hopes to broker a cease-fire agreement and hostage release between Israel and Hamas, and envisions a wider resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Hamas' demands "delusional" and rejected U.S. and international calls for recognizing Palestinian statehood without going through negotiations without preconditions.

Vigil for Israeli victims in New York

A New York Stands with Israel vigil and rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on Oct. 10, 2023, which attracted dozens of local politicians, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and Attorney General Letitia James. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

His cabinet adopted a declaration Sunday saying Israel "categorically rejects international edicts on a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians" and opposes any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, which it said would "grant a major prize to terror" after the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until "total victory" over the Hamas terrorist group and to expand it to Gaza's southernmost town of Rafah, where more than half the enclave's population of 2.3 million Palestinians has sought refuge, according to The Associated Press. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on Twitter: @danimwallace. 

Authored by Danielle Wallace via FoxNews February 18th 2024