New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has managed to put his plus-sized foot in his mouth again, this time angering most of the Big Apple’s Jewish residents and their supporters. Sadly, a Rabbi passed away this week and funeral services were planned for yesterday. A significant number of the faithful showed up for the funeral, violating the ban on large gatherings in Gotham during the pandemic. Hizzoner got word of this and decided to go investigate the situation in person, bringing a healthy NYPD presence with him. That’s when he decided to take to Twitter to air his frustration with “the Jewish community.”
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
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
If you click through and start scrolling through the responses to that tweet you’ll find some really humorous ones. I’d share them here, but they’re not exactly safe for work. In any event, as CNN reported this morning, this pronouncement didn’t sit very well with the one million-plus other Jews in New York City who weren’t violating the social distancing rules.
The Anti-Defamation League and a New York City councilman are calling out Mayor Bill de Blasio after he condemned a large funeral gathering, saying he targeted the entire Jewish community when only one group of people broke the rules.
De Blasio said the gathering for a rabbi’s funeral Tuesday in Williamsburg, New York, was “absolutely unacceptable” and noted it won’t be tolerated.
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio tweeted. “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.”
Hizzoner went on to say that his message to the Jewish community (and all communities) was that the time for warnings was over and he had “instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.”
While I understand that there are rules in place forbidding large gatherings, you really need the voluntary cooperation of the community to make them work. Showing up at the funeral of a Rabbi with a bunch of uniformed officers in tow and ordering them to start locking up Jews isn’t really the look you’re going for. As it turns out, the NYPD is claiming that they didn’t wind up arresting anyone, nor did they even issue any summonses. But the social media damage was already done.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League responded to the Mayor, informing him that calling out the entire Jewish community over the actions of one relatively small group was outrageous. He reminded him that there were already too many people scapegoating Jews in New York.
All of this is happening under not only the shadow of the pandemic but a period of time when the city has witnessed a rising number of incidents of thugs randomly attacking Orthodox Jews on the streets. Whether it’s fair to say or not, this has all been happening on Bill de Blasio’s watch. He’s paid lip service to the antisemitic attacks, but many of the crimes have gone unsolved and we’ve seen regular reports of waves of both fear and frustration among New York’s Jewish residents.
Sorry to have to say this, Mr. Mayor, but you wanted this job. Now it’s time to figure out a solution. And it should be one that doesn’t involve you crashing Jewish funerals with a bunch of stormtroopers behind you.