As you may have heard, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on religious gatherings that focus on the Orthodox Jewish community because the state’s coronavirus “hotspots” are reported to “heavily encompass” those communities.
Though based on testing data and the science on how the disease is spread, the governor’s order is controversial. Orthodox Jewish groups have sued Cuomo over the restrictions; and some claim that Cuomo is playing on classic antisemitic stereotype, that Jews spread diseases.
At a press conference yesterday, Cuomo pleaded with the Orthodox to comply with the restrictions– no more than ten people at a gathering– and sought to fend off the antisemitism charge by going through the data on the hotspots. But then he moved right from science to Israel, citing his travels to Israel and opposition to boycott of Israel as proof of what he has termed his “love” for the Jewish community. (Audio here.) Cuomo:
Facts, common sense, self-preservation– all makes the argument to follow the rule. They are now inarguable. And a large part of the community is but, obviously, there’s some opposition. There’s always been opposition to some of these rules but the rules have been proven over time to work….
Also, remember, this is not the first time we’ve had this discussion with members of this community. We went through this just recently with the measles vaccine. Right? Same argument… Well, measles will spread through your community. Well, measles will infect the larger community…
The rules are inarguable. It will save lives. Jewish tradition, which – and you haven’t had a Governor who’s a greater friend of Israel and the Jewish community than I have. I’ve tried to purposefully do that. My father was very close to the Jewish community, I’m very close to the Jewish community. He was close to the Orthodox community, I’m close to the Orthodox community. Nobody has traveled more to Israel. Two of my brothers-in-law are Jewish. Nobody’s fought anti-Semitism more aggressively than I have. First Governor in the nation to do BDS.
But– that didn’t stop the controversy over measles and it’s not going to stop the controversy over this situation either.
We’ve repeatedly argued here that Zionism and Judaism are not the same thing. Much of the Jewish community disagrees, of course; and so does Governor Cuomo.
The two photos below document the governor’s claims: a solidarity visit to Israel in 2014 when it was massacring Palestinians, and his signing of a “first in the nation” executive order in 2016 stating that the state will divest public funds from any entity that boycotts Israel.
Thanks to Scott Roth.