De Blasio Lashes Out At The Jewish Community: The New York City mayor’s outburst draws criticism

A tweet from New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, in the aftermath of the levayah of Rav Chaim Mertz, the Tola’as Yaakov Rebbe, which took place last Tuesday, caused a hailstorm of criticism to hit de Blasio, with politicians across the political spectrum calling it an inappropriate singling-out of the Jewish community.
Representatives of the shul and Hatzalah of Williamsburg had coordinated with the NYPD to close the street for the funeral procession, in a manner that would allow for social distancing. Masks were distributed but attempts to create a safe situation failed to keep people far enough from one another, and some in the crowd were not wearing the masks that had been distributed. According to news reports, over 2,000 people were crammed onto the streets.
Mayor de Blasio has been coming under pressure in recent weeks because of a failure of the city to enforce social distancing regulations, and a significant number of media articles have focused on violations of guidelines.
On Tuesday, though, de Blasio was suddenly ready to crack down, on the Jews that is, as he described afterward in a series of tweets:
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic. When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.
“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance.”
The fact that de Blasio had admonished the “Jewish community” in his middle tweet drew swift attention—and harsh blowback.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) first criticized the mayor, then called on the Department of Justice to ensure that no religious discrimination was going on in relation to the enforcement of New York City’s laws.
The ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called out de Blasio as well, in a tweet: “Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC. The few who don’t social distance should be called out—but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews. This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever.”
Media pundits and numerous Jewish individuals joined the chorus of complaints against de Blasio, with some pointing out that the mayor had failed to crack down on or even mention other gatherings in the city that violated social distancing.
Many of those calling out the mayor pointed to the long season of physical attacks on Jews in the New York area as a reason the mayor’s tweet was irresponsible—and dangerous.
A day after the incident, de Blasio acknowledged the criticism—but not to apologize. During a press conference, he spoke at some length about the incident, saying in part: “I regret it if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way. That was not my intention.” At the same time, he said that he didn’t regret cracking down on the event or calling it out.
In a call with Jewish media on Monday, the mayor said that while he regretted the language of the tweet, he would not delete it and that his response had occurred because he cared “more about lives than words.”
That new attitude toward enforcement was made clear over the next few days, as NYPD officers began giving out tickets for violations of rules and cracked down on those who had gathered for another funeral. That, too, angered many observers, who noted that while NYPD officers were

To read more, subscribe to Ami