BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Kathy Hochul traveled to Israel on Wednesday, meeting with diplomatic leaders and communities. Many at home, however, were surprised to see New York’s Governor making such a trip.

“It’s not uncommon for New York’s governor to take a trip like this, it’s going to be more in terms of a fact-finding mission. Just meet with different people and bring that back to the state in terms of information, getting ground truth to the people of New York,” said Associate Professor of Political science at the University of Buffalo Jacob Neiheisel.     

The trip by Hochul comes at a sensitive moment for New Yorkers back home. Trying to straddle the line between defending Israel’s response, while also recognizing the high numbers of Palestinian casualties.

“Certainly no one in New York, elected leaders, have been casual about the loss of life. I think a lot of people recognize that this is going to be the response from Israel. They are going to eradicate or do their best to eradicate the leadership of Hamas. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay that Palestinian civilians are killed, it is not okay,” claimed the state’s Senate Minority leader Rob Ortt.

During a press briefing Tuesday, Hochul said she wanted to ‘ensure Israel has the resources to protect their citizens, while also allowing Gazan civilians to get the humanitarian assistance they need, as long as it would not benefit Hamas.’

“It’s a needle that must be thread there where you don’t want to look like you’re entirely behind Netanyahu because there’s some people who are not going to be happy with that. But at the same time, if you have to make somebody mad, you’re going to make the smaller constituency mad. I really do think that’s the political play here,” continued Neiheisel.

According to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University, New York is home to the largest Jewish population of any U.S. City.

The state’s Senate Minority Leader says this makes Hochul’s first overseas trip since taking office, one that shows support for New Yorker’s back in the states and abroad.

“I think she can use that to the fullest extent that she can on behalf of New Yorkers who are there on behalf of New Yorkers who have family members there of Jewish and non-Jewish that she stands with Israel and is willing to really understand the situation on the ground, especially in the middle of a conflict,” concluded Ortt.

During her 30-hour “solidarity mission,” Hochul, consoled Israeli families that were displaced or impacted by the attacks, also meeting with local diplomats and officials. With a plan to return to New York by Friday.

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.