‘No Regret’: De Blasio Defends Statement Threatening Jews With Arrest For Attending A Rabbi’s Funeral

A group of Jews gathered in Brooklyn late Tuesday to pay their respects to a prominent rabbi who recently passed away reportedly from the coronavirus. A local reporter was quickly tipped off to the event and shared photos on Twitter showing hundreds of Jews gathering.

The photos gained the attention of New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, who decided to kick a group of mourners while they were down by singling them out and threatening them with arrest for “those who gather in large groups,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

De Blasio defended his words in his Wednesday news conference saying it “was said with love, but it was tough love” pledging that he “won’t tolerate antisemitism” while condemning the Jewish community for “putting each other in danger and our police officers in danger.”

He concluded, “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’ve no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively.”

New York Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is Jewish himself, condemned de Blasio’s Tweet in a statement to this reporter. “Publicly singling out the Jewish community directly like this is irresponsible and dangerous, especially with the rise of anti-Semitism in and around NYC and during this time of heightened fear,” Zeldin said.

The Mayor’s comments also fired up a social media storm of both Jews and non-Jews outraged by the hateful message shared by an elected official.

Some on social media argued that the Mayor, himself, has not adhered to the social distancing orders sharing images and footage of de Blasio unnecessarily traveling throughout the city.

In fact, in a video posted to Twitter this week, the Mayor was captured “non-essentially” traveling to Brooklyn for a stroll in the park. “I live right near Prospect Park. It’s a nice place to exercise at distance, Today, I ran into @nycmayor @billdeblasio w/ @nycfirst lady there,” a local passerby wrote on Twitter. “But they live 11 miles away *inside* another park and force a 4 SUV entourage to drive them non-essentially to Bklyn for recreation.”

De Blasio was also seen just before the citywide shutdown went into effect sneaking into his YMCA for a last-minute gym session.

The Mayor’s comments also come at a time when many extremist groups are capitalizing on the coronavirus pandemic sharing hateful rhetoric and images on social media in an effort to single out the Jews for spreading the virus. Further, the FBI’s New York office warned last month that hate groups were encouraging members diagnosed with the virus to spread their infected bodily fluids to the Jewish community. Antisemitic hate crimes, even before the pandemic began, were peaking in the state.

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