The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today condemned comments by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio directed at the Jewish community after a large gathering at the funeral of a senior rabbi in the Williamsburg neighborhood. On Twitter, de Blasio said that he had a "message to the Jewish community," namely that he had instructed the NYPD to "summons or even arrest those" who violate social distancing regulations.
“Mayor de Blasio's point about the absolute necessity to social distance, and enforcement thereof, are not disputed,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, “but singling out Jews as an ethnic group is repugnant. He has never done this with any other community. Earlier that same day, masses of New Yorkers ignored social distancing rules as crowds came out to watch the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds flyover, and the mayor had no comment. And blame for the horridly unsafe conditions on the city's subways, of course, lies with city mismanagement under his watch. De Blasio's selective and biased criticism of Jews cannot be tolerated by decent New Yorkers.”
In reality, the synagogue hosting the funeral and the Shomrim public safety group coordinated the funeral with the New York Police Department, putting barricades and other measures into place to limit the size and concentration of the crowd. The Sergeants Benevolent Association of the NYPD asserted that, contrary to de Blasio’s statement, “the community followed all guidance and wore masks” and that Shomrim “did an excellent job” trying to maintain order.
De Blasio’s comments were condemned by public figures such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former State Assembleyman Dov Hikind, Ben Shapiro, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Ted Deutch, Adam Milstein, Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America and Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. Lahav Harkov, a senior editor at the Jerusalem Post, quipped that de Blasio’s tweet would have been "more effective in the original German."
Many observers noted that New Yorkers of all ethnicities and faiths had violated social distancing yesterday to watch the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over the city, to gather in city parks, and even, perhaps most egregiously, to celebrate health care workers. The mayor himself was photographed outside a local hospital, standing without a mask in close proximity to doctors and nurses caring for desperately ill patients.
“It is clear that he used a different standard for Jews,” concluded Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the CJV. “Replace ‘Jewish’ with African-American, Hispanic, Buddhist, Sikh or Catholic, much less Gay or Muslim, and de Blasio would never dare make such a statement. Yet he targeted the very people who faced repeated, random anti-Semitic attacks across the city last year, with a broad-brush slur based upon, at most, the wrongdoing of several hundred people. If there is, Heaven forbid, a renewal of those attacks, it is hard to see how de Blasio might deny direct culpability for anti-Semitic violence in New York.”