NEW YORK | The mayor of New York strongly denounced a rally of Orthodox Jews in tribute to a deceased rabbi, contrary to social distancing instructions, drawing the wrath of the Jewish community and politicians who accused him of discrimination.
In a series of tweets late Tuesday, Democrat Bill de Blasio criticized the rally in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and went to the scene with police to ensure the participants were dispersed, his first known intervention by this type since the start of the epidemic.
“Something absolutely unacceptable has happened in Williamsburg tonight,” the mayor wrote. “A great funeral gathering in the midst of a pandemic. When I heard that, I went there myself to make sure the crowd was dispersed. What I have seen cannot be tolerated as long as we are fighting the coronavirus ”.
He then threatened “the Jewish community” (some 1.1 million members in New York, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world) and “all communities” with sanctions.
“The time for warnings has passed. I asked the police to issue tickets, even to stop those who gather in large groups. It’s about stopping disease and saving lives. Point, ”he tweeted again.
But this emphasis on “the Jewish community,” against the backdrop of recent escalation of anti-Semitic acts in New York and the United States, was immediately denounced.
The Orthodox Jewish Council for Public Affairs (OJPAC) thus pointed out in a tweet that other violations of the distancing rules were not the subject of the same accusations, citing the example of the groups of New Yorkers who followed on Tuesday. the squadrons of the navy and the air force came to fly over the city in homage to the carers.
“All New Yorkers need to practice social distancing, which makes the mayor’s action so bizarre on a day when it was nowhere respected,” the organization said.
Politicians have also stepped up to the plate.
“Has Mayor De Blasio sent an identical tweet, with the word ‘Jewish’ replaced by another religious minority? Republican Senator Ted Cruz launched on Twitter. “Laws must be enforced, without targeting a religion.”
Another Florida elected official, Democrat Ted Deutch, chairman of the House of Representatives Ethics Committee, a Jew himself, also said that “targeting the entire Jewish community for possible arrests collectively gives us chills. in the back “.