NEW YORK—New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking heat from Jewish advocates and critics after saying “the Jewish community, and all communities” will face consequences if they don’t obey social distancing orders.
He was referring to a large funeral held in Brooklyn on Wednesday, where what appears to be hundreds of people violated social distancing orders to mourn the death of a rabbi. But the mayor’s generalization, “the Jewish community,” is what set some people off.
“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,” said de Blasio on Twitter.
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.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
De Blasio’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, reiterated his point, writing on Twitter: “I empathisize (sic) with the desire to mourn those we’ve lost, but this is absolutely unacceptable. The Mayor is on the scene and the NYPD is breaking this up.”
I empathisize with the desire to mourn those we’ve lost, but this is absolutely unacceptable. The Mayor is on the scene and the NYPD is breaking this up. https://t.co/xBvcICVRSX
— Freddi Goldstein (@FreddiGoldstein) April 29, 2020
“What he did was a horror,” founder of Americans Against Antisemitism Dov Hikind told NTD News. “To blame the Jewish community, that means he blamed me, he blamed everybody—Jews everywhere. That was clear, that’s why people reacted the way they did. People on the right, people on the left, it doesn’t matter, they understood the danger of his words.”
During his daily press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio said he apologizes if he said anything hurtful, but that he didn’t mean any harm, saying his words were “tough love.”
“So again, if in my passion, in my emotion, I said something that in anyway was hurtful, I’m sorry about that, that was not my intention,” he said. “But I also want to be clear, I have no regrets about calling out this danger and we’re gonna deal with it very, very aggressively.”
This isn’t the first time a large Jewish funeral has been held in the city recently. Other large funerals that were eventually broken up were also reported this month, one of which took place on April 5, according to the New York Post.
Hikind agrees with the mayor that this should not be happening, but said de Blasio should also say he made a mistake.
“The mayor could not find it in his heart to say, I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have used that language. Period. End of the story. Not whether he offended someone, and if he did, he [apologizes].”
The synagogue issued an apology to the city for letting the funeral get out of hand, as well as to the Jewish people for doing something that “led to the singling out of the Jewish community.”
Statement by Congregation Kahal Tolath Yakov – Rabbi Mertz OBM’s synagogue – regarding the funeral that took place today in Williamsburg and the reaction to it. https://t.co/Gs5Yu2xxen pic.twitter.com/1AuORuWJy6
— WILLIAMSBURG NEWS (@WMSBG) April 29, 2020