Westchester County Executive Latimer shares emotional journey in Israel
A group of lawmakers from Westchester are in Israel this week, including Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
They are meeting with top lawmakers and families impacted by the violence of the Israel-Hamas war and hope to take the lessons they have learned back to the Hudson Valley.
"I think you are seeing up close and personal the human reactions that we only heard news about from afar," said Latimer, who spoke exclusively to News 12 over video chat from Israel.
Latimer is taking part in a three-day solidarity mission organized by the Westchester Jewish Council, along with a group of lawmakers that includes County Board Chairman Vedat Gashi, New Rochelle Mayor-elect Yadira Ramos-Herbert and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.
So far, the group has met one-on-one with Israel President Isaac Herzog, relatives of hostages. They also visited the site of the kibbutz massacre at Kfar Aza.
Latimer says valuable insight was gained that they hope to bring back home to Westchester.
"We had the chance to talk with someone in Hadassah Hospital," said Latimer. "We've had the chance to meet with some elected officials here and get a footprint on that."
He also hopes to tackle rising “hate at home,” impacting the county's sizable Jewish community, along with Muslims and Arabs who call the Hudson Valley home.
"Let's not confuse Hamas with the Palestinian people, they are also victims of this war," said Latimer.
During the interview, the group was also highly critical of the Red Cross, and said the organization has not done enough to come to the aid of newly-released hostages and their relatives.
The lawmakers are set to return home later Thursday evening.