Refusing to "glorify" an "organization that uses violence," Mayor Michael Bloomberg excluded diplomats from the Palestinian Authority from a Gracie Mansion concert recital Tuesday.
"Given the fact that the mayor has been outspoken in his criticism of both [Yasir] Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, he felt the city should not be glorifying an organization that uses violence as a political tool," said Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler.
The move, which occurred on the eve of Israeli Independence Day, was reminiscent of the controversial incident in 1996 when Bloombergís predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, barred the visiting Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from Lincoln Center, saying that he was responsible for terrorism against Americans.
Bloomberg had recently said he did not agree with a proposed City Council resolution calling for the closure of the Palestinian mission to the United Nations here. But Skyler said it would have been different to invite the diplomats to Gracie Mansion for a city function. "As mayor, Mike Bloomberg decides what is and is not appropriate. Inviting the Palestinian mission is not appropriate," he said.
Michael Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said the mayor had "exercised wise and moral judgment as to whom he does not want to have as a guest." He added: "It is now a proven fact that Arafat has fomented, directed and funded terrorism."