Cooper visits Hindu temple as Robinson travels to Israel

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

By Theresa Opeka

Carolina Journal

CLEMMONS — North Carolina’s governor and lieutenant governor had anything but a typical Monday as one attended an event marking a religious holiday in the state while the other traveled across the world near a war zone.

Earlier this month, Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper signed a proclamation celebrating Diwali at Sri Mata Hindu Temple in Clemmons. Diwali, which occurred on Nov. 12, means “row of lights,” and is the most important holiday for Hindus in India and worldwide.

Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson traveled to Israel, along with Republican State Sens. Brad Overcash, Gaston and David Craven, Randolph, as part of a contingent with the North Carolina Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Robinson is running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2024.

The organization said they are partnering with the West Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition to “expose current and future state-level leaders to the complexities faced by Israel, one of the United States’ strongest and longest-standing allies, and to begin to explore strategic ways that states can continue to strengthen bonds with Israel and with the Jewish people.”

Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas launched a series of attacks on Israel on Saturday, Oct. 7, which is the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret and the Sabbath or Sabbat (day of rest & worship) for the Jewish people.

“In the weeks since Hamas’ brutal and unprovoked terrorist attacks against Israel, news reports and images of the unprovoked attacks against innocent civilians have affected many of us deeply on a personal level,” Robinson said in a press release issued by his campaign ahead of the trip. “It is clear that Hamas and their allies seek nothing less than the eradication of the Jewish people from Israel. Through our mutual devotion to our faiths and our countries, and with the strong and vibrant Jewish community in our state, North Carolinians have much in common with Israel and the Jewish people.”

Robinson issued a proclamation a few weeks ago while serving as acting governor, offering renewed support for Israel and the Jewish people in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks by Hamas.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, one of Robinson’s opponents in March’s Republican primary, wasted no time attacking Robinson on X, formerly Twitter.

“Hopefully, the Israeli government understands that they are hosting a ‘leader’ from North Carolina with a history of anti-Jewish comments,” Folwell said. “It’s being sponsored by @FaithandFreedom, who should know that their headliner, @markrobinsonNC, has said that ‘Hitler disarming MILLIONS of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash.’”

A spokesperson for Attorney Bill Graham, one of Robinson’s other primary opponents, said in an emailed statement to Carolina Journal that North Carolina needs a governor who is consistent and clear, not hypocritical and politically double-sided.

Last week, Cooper was among a group of governors from 10 states that sent a letter urging Congress to quickly enact an increase in the supplemental appropriation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). The funding ensures resources reach communities who need immediate assistance in the wake of increased threats in the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Many houses of worship in North Carolina rely on the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to protect their congregations, and I encourage Congress to pass more funding for this vital program during this time of increased threats,” said Cooper in a press release. “The right to worship freely and without fear is fundamental to our country, and we are doing everything we can to protect that here in North Carolina.”