Who said that Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on ANYTHING anymore?
Turns out both parties can agree that anti-semitism is wrong.
Democratic NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is under near-universal condemnation for a series of tweets where he specifically threatened a “Jewish community” with arrest.
The funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz drew out hundreds of Hasidic mourners in Brooklyn.
They came to honor, respect, and mourn the dead.
Rather than simply re-emphasizing his policy of banning large gatherings, de Blasio took to Twitter and specifically called out the “Jewish community” and threatened them with arrest.
Here’s exactly what de Blasio tweeted:
Though there have been multiple dispersals in New York, the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz appeared to be the first time Mayor de Blasio was directly involved.
Jewish groups and leaders were alarmed by de Blasio's statements and responded with outrage.
Politico reports that de Blasio says he has "no regrets" for calling out the danger of mass gatherings, including Rabbi Chaim Mertz's funeral:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sparked controversy Tuesday evening after ordering the shutdown of a large Orthodox Jewish funeral in Brooklyn — and vowing to fine or arrest residents who continue to defy social distancing rules.
De Blasio, who has historically been close to the Orthodox Jewish community, showed up on the scene in person to see the crowd dispersed.
His tweet drew backlash from critics who said he was singling out the Jewish community.
"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," Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a tweet. "This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever."
De Blasio expressed regret that people were offended, but said he would not apologize for condemning the illicit funeral.
“If in my passion and in my emotion I said something that in any way was hurtful, I’m sorry about that. That was not my intention. But I also want to be clear, I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively,” the mayor told reporters.
Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 17,000 New Yorkers.
The NYPD gave out 12 summonses Tuesday night. The department was alerted to the death of the prominent rabbi on Tuesday afternoon and had officers on scene in case a crowd gathered, Shea said.
“I’m making very clear, unapologetically, that the next gathering will be met by summonses and arrests, period. No more warnings,” de Blasio said. “And that’s true in every community. Equal opportunity.”
He said the new no-warning policy would apply to gatherings of hundreds or more people, but not to a handful of friends hanging out on a corner or in a park. Gatherings of any size are prohibited under New York’s stay at home order.
Critics called it a double standard, but de Blasio said no gathering as large as the Brooklyn funeral has been seen in the city since the pandemic began, and any that do take place will be handled the same way.
"Mr. Mayor, your words are unacceptable. To condemn our entire community over one group of people is something you would not do to any other ethnic group, and I know you long enough to know that you know this," City Council Member Kalman Yeger said in a tweet.
The police commissioner said the funeral endangered officers, who have been hard hit by the spread of the virus. He said the NYPD, which laid two members to rest over the weekend, refrained from holding its typical ceremonial funerals.
“That event last night never should have happened. It better not happen again. It can’t,” Shea said. “You are putting my cops’ lives at risk, and it’s unacceptable.”
Even some of de Blasio’s allies, like former Brooklyn Assembly Member Dov Hikind, condemned the language in his tweets.
Racial tensions have risen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some politicians have claimed that the novel coronavirus is specifically targeting "black and brown" communities.
Others fear that Asians will face backlash due to the virus's origins in China.
Now, many warn that de Blasio's comments could potentially result in a rise of anti-semitism as the Jewish community specifically gets singled and called out.
The tone deaf-tweet sent outrage from coast-to-coast.
Even non-New Yorkers were alarmed by de Blasio's callous language.
However, during a press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio defended his comments, according to the New York Times:
On Wednesday, Mr. de Blasio defended his remarks at a news conference and said he “spoke last night out of passion.”
“I spoke out of real distress that people’s lives were in danger before my eyes and I was not going to tolerate it,” he told reporters. “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way, that was not my intention. It was said with love but it was tough love, it was anger and frustration.”
But he rejected the suggestion that his comments unfairly singled out members of the Jewish community or reflected a double standard in enforcing social-distancing rules.
“It has not happened other places, let’s be honest,” he said. “This kind of gathering has happened in only a few places and it cannot continue. It’s endangering the lives of people in the community.”
“I understand politicians, every one has said, ‘oh look, you know, this is like people gathering in the park,’” he added. “No, it’s not like people gathering in the park, it was thousands of people, can we just have an honest conversation here? It was not acceptable.”
A spokesman for Rabbi Mertz’s synagogue, Kahal Tolath Yakov, said in a statement that it “came up with a plan to have many streets closed, so that people participate and walk the coffin while following the social distancing rules and wearing masks.”
“Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out, and NYPD had to disperse the crowds,” the spokesman, Jacob Mertz, wrote. “We shall note that everyone followed the police officers’ orders and the vast majority had masks. Yet, the confusion and chaos led to scenes of large crowds.”
The pandemic has hit Hasidic residents of New York with devastating force, sickening and killing people at a rate that local leaders and public health data suggest may exceed that of other ethnic and religious groups.
Hundreds of Hasidic people have died of the virus, community leaders said, including influential religious figures like the Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, who led the Novominsker Hasidic dynasty and Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella ultra-Orthodox organization.
Most of the Orthodox Jewish leaders who have died amid the pandemic have not had big crowds at their funerals, but some have been mourned at large public gatherings like the one on Tuesday in Williamsburg.
The persistence of such events has drawn wide news media coverage. It has also generated deep unease among Hasidic groups, who feel they are being singled out for opprobrium and worry about anti-Semitism. And in any case, they argue, public health violations in their neighborhoods endanger them most of all.
New York Governor Cuomo has banned gatherings of any size in teh state.
Rabbi Mertz is a highly respected leader whose death left his community in deep shock and mourning.
According to Dermot F. Shea, the New York City police commissioner, the department was aware of the planned funeral, but did not expect a crowd of that size to show up.
It wasn't until videos were posted on social media that the scope of the funeral was made known.