July 22nd, 2014
09:45 PM ET
5 months ago

In CNN interview, combative Bloomberg says U.S. flight ban a mistake

(CNN) – A combative Michael Bloomberg told CNN on Wednesday the United States erred in banning airline flights to Israel after a Hamas rocket landed near its main airport earlier this week.

The former New York mayor flew overnight to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv where he was personally met and embraced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu.

Bloomberg told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he made the trip on El Al to demonstrate the safety and security of traveling to Israel.

"The fact that one rocket falls ... a mile away doesn't mean you should shut down air traffic into a country and paralyze the country," Bloomberg bluntly stated. "You can't just get cowed when somebody says something and everybody goes on the side of ultimate caution. That's how terrorists win, Wolf. You can't do that."

The Federal Aviation Administration, in an extraordinary step on Tuesday, banned U.S. airlines from flying to Tel Aviv over safety concerns. The prohibition was extended through Thursday, when the agency said it would reevaluate the situation. A number of overseas airlines followed suit.

Bloomberg said he thought the flight restriction was “a mistake.”

Rocket lands one mile from airport

The flight suspensions to Israel were the latest development in the 2-week-old conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. Neither side is showing any side of backing down.

Bloomberg was asked if he thought there may be political reasons behind the travel ban, which followed a State Department warning to Americans planning to travel to the region. He took offense.

"Why would you think that, Wolf? Don't be ridiculous," he said. "Why would you think that? It's an outrage for you to accuse one our agencies. … By asking the question you're implying that our government does things for political reasons, and maybe every once in a while they do, but it's your job to prove it."

Blitzer, saying a lot of people in Israel think there may be a political motives behind the U.S. government's decisions, pressed Bloomberg on the question.

"I wouldn't know," he responded. "I don't know. You don't know, and the other people don't know."

Bloomberg said the "tone of the question" was "insulting to America."

Airline ban latest developments

When Blitzer said tourists are restricting travel to Israel because of the conflict, Bloomberg said tourists can't come to the country in the first place if the flights aren't in operation.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was also part of the interview, said "people are very cautious but running their life as usual, and we don't get scared from terrorists."

Asked if tourism was down, Barkart didn't deny the claim, but said new tourists had arrived Wednesday in Israel, referring to Bloomberg. "The best way to fight terrorism is exactly go on with your normal life."

"And that's what we did in New York City," Bloomberg jumped in, referring to the 9/11 attacks. "We didn't let the journalists scare everybody away."

As the interview was wrapping up, Bakart asked Blitzer, who's been in the region for nearly two weeks, if he feels safe.

"I feel very secure," Blitzer said.

"You want to make sure that's on television?" Bloomberg quipped.

Netanyahu raised the FAA's action with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the region trying to help arrange a cease-fire.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.


Filed under: Israel • Michael Bloomberg
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Smitty

    Good for him, Obammy is trying to disrupt Isreals tourism income.

    July 22, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  2. KC

    Hope he just stays there! Why doesn't he show solidarity for all his workers whose lives he had destroyed.

    July 22, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  3. S. B. Stein

    Go Bloomberg! There is no reason to avoid Ben Gurion airport. If the approach gets close, then change the approach.

    July 22, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Richard

    This is a very courageous thing for Mike Bloomberg to do, and Israel deserves every show of solidarity n can get. There is no immediate reason to let terrorists close Israel's major international airport at Tel Aviv. The rockets that are coming from Gaza are totally unreliable, can be diverted or destroyed by Israel's "Iron Dome" and should not be the driving force to cut Israel off from the outside world. Godspeed, Mike Bloomberg. Give my best wishes to the Israelis. Don't yield to terrorist blackmail. Show strength courage and conviction!

    July 22, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. Chris..E.al

    Thats a great call letter to get in the airport for sure . Its sad that dems have hi jack Chris . E al and tried make me a fool on the Googy . sad l0t

    July 22, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Ah, bloomberg showing true colors.

    July 22, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. Imran khan

    I love great man

    July 22, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. Jenny

    Thank you, Mr. Bloomberg! God bless you!
    Dear American citizens, please don't let the terror win and don't give the Hamas a prize by canceling your flights.
    I'm sure there are enough courageous American pilots who are ready to fly and it is safe.

    July 22, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. Michael J. Ryan

    Bloomberg should have visited Gaza which has been devastated by the Israeli bombardment. 650 Palestinians were killed, 70 to 80 % of them are civilians according to the United nations . 100.000 Gazans are extra/new refugees because of The Isareli army indiscriminate attacks against civilians, hospitals, schools... only 25 Israeli soldiers got killed , 2 civilians (one assisting the army loading missiles)... Shame on you!

    July 22, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. jack

    In order to understand the current human rights catastrophe in Gaza and our country’s shameful silence towards Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people and disregard for international law and human rights, we need to be aware of the immense power the Israeli Lobby, specifically AIPAC, wields over our politicians. Two excellent sources provide invaluable insight into this: 1) “The Israel Lobby and Foreign Policy”, a New York Times bestseller written by prominent political science professors John Mearsheimer, from the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt from Harvard University and 2) “They Dare to Speak Out” written by former 22 year Illinois Congressman Paul Findley. Both books describe the stranglehold that the Israeli Lobby holds over our politicians and the steep political price politicians pay for challenging Israel in any way. As a result, we have the tragedy you see today; a blood crazed Israeli government committing mass genocide against a Palestinian people supported by billions of our tax dollars and our politicians and media too fearful to challenge Israel’s ruthless and genocidal tactics. The Israel Lobby was instrumental into getting us into the Iraq quagmire and they almost succeeded in starting a war with Iran. As Americans, we must reclaim our sovereignty over our foreign affairs and not outsource it to groups such as AIPAC whose main objective is to further Israel’s goals, and not ours. We mustn’t compromise our American values for the sake of AIPAC and its cronies.

    July 22, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  11. Flush the US Congress

    With luck, he will see the rockets red glare.

    July 22, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  12. alex Warren

    Bloomberg thinks the FAA should be more concerned with Israels image than US lives. Maybe he will find a home in the Middle East and show us where his loyalties are. FAA's job is to keep us safe not promote Bloomberg's political agenda.

    July 22, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. rick

    Ever think that its to PREVENT american hostages from being taken or killed by suicide bombers or kill squads in fake uniforms??? Or is Bloombergs ego bullet proof??? Or maybe hes going over to try and pass a gun control law for Israelis?? Take away their guns from Israielis.. And crime and killing will magicly stop from Palistine?? Smartest thing Israiel could do is deny him getting off the plane and opening his mouth.!!

    July 22, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  14. Michael

    Arrest him.

    July 22, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  15. Benno

    If Mayor Bloomberg wants to fly into Israel that is his business. He should not criticize the USA for trying to protects its citizens.

    July 22, 2014 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. JJ

    No peace for Palestinians? No peace for Israel. Nobody cares what you think about that, Bloomberg. Period.

    July 22, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. freddie nerk

    Will Bloomberg or Israel indemnify the airlines, employees and passengers if some missile hits the plane? The FAA is absolutely correct and our politicians, from both parties, should support America first. Let Bloomberg ir anyone else fly El-Al if they choose to. But don't compel private airlines to do that. Now Nethanyahu can experience what isolation can do to an economy. Its time to negotiate with Hamas and the PLA together.

    July 22, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  18. Ron Citizen

    Let me show you how foolish this dumb political act (Stunts For Israel) really is: first of all, THE FAA BAN ON ALL FLIGHTS IN AND OUT OF ISRAEL REMAIN IN PLACE. The fact el Al continues to fly despite FFA BAN can be summed up in Atika Shubert's CNN live report today from Ben Gurion Airport; Shubert reported that she just saw a Hamas rocket go directly over the Ben Gurion Airport while an el Al jet was taking off from Ben Gurion...Shubert added she saw the Iron Dome launch a missile which struck the Hamas rocket. Hard proof of the wisdom of the FAA's ban on Israeli airports.

    Further, Delta and Lufthansa has announced they are extending their bans on flights to Israel INDEFINITELY.

    Additionally, former FBI Director Tom Fuentes reported today on CNN: "....the insurance liability is too high." Fuentes added, "Hamas could pull up in a station wagon, get out and fire a shoulder-fired MANPAD at any incoming or outgoing jet and down it.

    July 22, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  19. Ed

    Wow, New York's nanny has become International. I'm sure he will be as loved out of the country as he is in the country.

    July 22, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  20. Jamie Douglas

    Dear Mr. Bloomberg, Why not just stay there. They have a shortage of Zionists in Israel.

    July 22, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. Mano

    Better safe than sorry. FAA want's to err on side of safety, that is a welcome thought. After what happened in Ukraine it makes sense to take this approach and safeguard the lives of innocent passengers. In times like this one should think more practically rather than political posturing. If Bloommberg wants to risk his life, he is welcome to do so. But for the sake of politics do not risk the lives of innocent citizens.

    July 22, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. Jimmy

    It is ver y dangerous to fly to Israel these days. Crazy people like Bloomberg think that money can buy security.

    July 22, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  23. ED1

    Do you not understand what rockets launched at airport means.

    July 22, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. Brian

    Irony – please demonstrate your power to Mr. Bloomberg....

    July 22, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Another AIPAC bought scum bag Zionist apologist for Israeli crimes. Why do not you stay there; make sure to mail back your US citizenship; we do not need you either. And, hey, moron, if your airfare was paid by taxpayers, you'd better report it on your 2014 income tax return.

    July 22, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
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