New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday evening addressed the entire Jewish community in a warning tweet that has already drawn harsh criticism, including from Donald Trump Jr, who cited a friendly greeting de Blasio made to Muslims for Ramadan and wrote on Twitter, "I wonder why treating these two communities so differently? It's crazy and scary."
De Blasio was stark in his condemnation of what he claimed was "unacceptable behavior, writing, "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.
"We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance."
In a previous tweet the same day, de Blasio had written: "Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonight: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic. When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the coronavirus."
NBC New York quoted a Isaac Abraham, a representative for the Orthodox Jewish community, who said that the city knew about the funeral and that as many as five police precincts were involved in putting up barricades to accommodate it.
The site also said that police made no arrests or summons during the funeral. Photos taken from the funeral show mourners wearing face masks, although social distancing rules were not universally observed.
Critics immediately pointed out that various ethnic groups have blatantly violated NYC's social distancing guidelines, but none have been singled out and named by the mayor the way the Jewish community was.
Jonathan Greenblatt, from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), tweeted: "Hey NYC Mayor, 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. This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever."
Senate Minority Leader Ted Cruz tweeted: "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."
Densely-populated New York City has been hard hit by coronavirus, with approximately 162,000 confirmed cases and 12,509 deaths.