New York City Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio faced instant and widespread backlash late on Monday night over a tweet that singled out the “Jewish community” in threatening arrests for not following social distancing guidelines.
De Blasio tweeted: “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.”
De Blasio’s threat to take action against those who were not following social distancing guidelines comes as his city has been hit harder by the coronavirus than anywhere else in the U.S.
De Blasio’s tweet also comes as the Democrat-controlled area has been ravaged by numerous anti-Semitic hate crimes in recent months and has seen a sharp uptick in attacks on Jews.
The New York Times reported:
Anti-Semitic violence in the New York area has been more frequent lately than at any time in recent memory, with three people killed in a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J., and five injured in a knife attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y. …
Jewish people were the victims in more than half of the 428 hate crimes in New York City last year, with many of the crimes committed in heavily Orthodox neighborhoods, according to the Police Department. Community leaders said most of the victims in the Monsey and Jersey City attacks were Orthodox.
The tempo of such incidents increased as 2019 ended and the new year began, with 43 across New York State from Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Online, de Blasio faced wide spread criticism from prominent Republicans, Democrats, and members of the Jewish community.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded: “Would DeBlasio have sent this identical tweet with the word ‘Jewish’ replaced by any other religious minority? If not, why not? Laws should be enforced neutrally w/o targeting religious faith. #ProtectFreeExercise.”
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro responded: “I can’t imagine de Blasio saying this about any other community. It’s pretty amazing. And for the record, MANY of the leaders of the Jewish community have taken strong stands on social distancing.”
Late last month, de Blasio threatened to close churches if worshipers continued to congregate together.
“So, I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend – if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” de Blasio told reporters. “I don’t say that with any joy. It’s the last thing I would like to do because I understand how important people’s faiths are to them, and we need our faiths in this time of crisis, but we do not need gatherings that will endanger people.”
“No faith tradition endorses anything that endangers the members of that faith,” de Blasio continued. “So, the NYPD, Fire Department, Buildings Department, and everyone has been instructed that if they see worship services going on, they will go to the officials of that congregation, they’ll inform them they need to stop the services and disperse.”
“If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently,” de Blasio concluded. “Again, that will begin this weekend. Again, I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but anyone who’s hearing this, take it seriously. You’ve been warned, you need to stop services, help people practice their faith in different ways, but not in groups, not in gatherings that could endanger people.”