When the shutdowns in New York and other places began, few friends warned me that the terrible impacts of the pandemic would one way or another eventually be blamed on the Jews. As the economy shut down, schools closed, and people were forced into their homes for months on end, the feelings of “We are all in this together” metamorphosed into “Who can I blame for the hardships that have fallen on me and my kin.”
Following the uprising of different voices asking for justice, the backlash towards the Jewish community began. Strong feelings surfaced around Jews being privileged, and antisemitic sentiments from sports stars to different famed personalities manifested themselves on different social media platforms. Many Jews also took on to the streets screaming for equality for those seeking justice and made it a point to blackout their screens on Instagram.
Recently, however, a new wave of backlash against the Jewish community here in New York is taking place. de Blasio, who was very supportive of the hurt feelings of rioters, looters, and marches back in the summer of 2020, has shown a complete double standard towards the NY Jewish community. He continued to send the message that since people are angry at the terrible death of George Floyd, they should be given the space, time, and courtesy to protest. The large and continued protests that were not always peaceful, took place in every city and town, from the City to Long Island. The large, packed crowds, gathered together day after day, and only some participants chose to wear masks. Whereas I completely agree that as an American, we all have the right to peaceful protest, the same message of understanding has not been bestowed regarding the NY Jewish community.
While Cuomo and de Blasio continue to target the New York Jewish community for their religious gatherings, other mass gatherings from different religious groups keep taking place. These non-Jewish gatherings have garnered no media attention or criticism from the mayor or governor. They have been kept under the radar by the media because it does not fit the narrative that they are trying to get across.
In an era where the idea of wearing or no wearing masks has become so heated, de Blasio has created an environment where Jews who are afraid for their health and safety are enraged and angered at his targeted group, causing them to become vocally critical of the members of the Jewish community living in certain “hot Zones”. Time and again he has been quoted as saying, “Jewish services and other religious services” or “synagogue and other houses of worship” when referring to shutdowns or non-social safety compliance. He even went so far as rounding up and arresting the Jews who protested his unfair and one-sided laws, charging them for rioting. No such actions were taken against the “peaceful” and “nonpeaceful” protesters of this past summer.
Was this de Blasio’s intent? Not only is he turning the entire town against Jews, but he is also feeding the fire by portraying falsified information about the Jewish community, and as a bonus has caused Jew to turn Jew against Jew. His biased, once sided and antisemitic words and actions have helped create a rift in our midst, break down our ties, and essentially weaken us at the very core of who we are. Suddenly groups of Jews are taking sides on the matter of the Virus and what is happening in NYC.
Which had made me wonder: are we bigger than the antisemites within our midst? Are we able to see past the political agenda of some politics? Social distancing measures, mask-wearing, and health issues should know no religious lines. If applied, it should be done so across the board and applied to all people. Equally. Not only a group of the citizens who fit the rhetoric that feeds an antisemitic governor’s agenda.