Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a vituperative tweet against groups of Hasidic Jews who gathered last night in Williamsburg for the funeral of one of their rabbis. Several hundred people stood wall-to-wall in the middle of the pandemic on the streets of Brooklyn to pay their final respects. This had been cleared and arranged with the New York Police Department who had been informed of the likelihood a very large crowd and had provided wooden horses, stanchions, additional protection while blocking off the streets for the expected crowd. The Mayor, nevertheless, singled out Jews for violating the social distancing orders.
Having been informed that this funeral gathering was taking place, Mayor de Blasio went immediately to Williamsburg and issued a blistering attack on those who were acting in violation of the social distancing regulations. The Mayor was correct to condemn this gathering, but his attack on the Hasidic Jews was reprehensible. In addition, his attack singling out Jews for conducting illegal assemblies was similarly unconscionable.
In fact, the people at fault for permitting the public outpouring were this community’s rabbinic leaders as well as the NYPD. The Mayor did not even check that the local police precincts had been informed and assisted in preparing for the crowd. The fact is that the police officers in charge were derelict in allowing this crowd to develop, but the real problem was de Blasio’s inability and unwillingness to call out the NYPD for their failures. De Blasio’s attack on the Jews of New York was worthy of the language of the Russian Cossacks. It would be very interesting to learn who exactly did the Mayor consult before he issued his broadside and, specifically, who in the Jewish community did he query; if anyone.
As for the rabbinic leadership in the Jewish community, their failures were disgraceful. The fact that Hasidic lay leaders are powerless is a known fact among Hasidic groups. It is very difficult to comprehend that after the tragic deaths to Covid-19 of so many Jews in the New York charedi community, that the rabbis in Williamsburg were not willing to assert their leadership to stop their own people from participating attending this funeral. This despite the fact that were gathering to show respect to one of their own rabbis.
For the Mayor, this is only the latest evidence of a politician who cannot find his way and continues to flay all over the place. As a term limited officeholder, de Blasio even convinced some his most admiring benefactors to underwrite an abortive campaign to run for President. De Blasio and Governor Cuomo—who for the most part is emerging from the Coronavirus tragedy as an impressive manager—have been at loggerheads in a power game even prior to the pandemic. Now one senses that while they generally are on the same page on virus related issues, de Blasio clearly has adopted a far more aggressive style than Cuomo. He is once more demonstrating a very combative style of management suggesting he clearly is ill-suited for any future or higher political office despite his undoubtable ambition and desire.
Correction: In the previous posting of KAHNTENTIONS an incorrect reference was made to the title of the Nicholson-Cruise movie. As a number of people observed, their memorable movie was entitled A Few Good Men, not “brave men” as it was erroneously cited.