At a press conference yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that anti-Semitism is “a right-wing movement.” Ironically the mayor was speaking in Brooklyn, where attacks against Jews have skyrocketed in recent months. The mayor cannot possibly believe that these attacks are fueled by right-wing rhetoric or Trump supporters.
Hate crimes have risen by 64 percent in New York City and the vast majority of them are anti-Semitic attacks. According to the Anti Defamation League (ADL), such attacks rose in the state of New York by 55 percent in 2018. The city has announced that it will be opening an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes in coming months, but what good will it be if the mayor refuses to accept the true nature of the problem and continues to pretend that this is all some kind of right-wing plot?
As Joe Borelli, Staten Island’s city councilman, told the New York Post, “A simple look at where anti-Semitic hate crimes have occurred just disproves this– unless you count central Brooklyn as the home of a vast right-wing conspiracy.” He went on to say, “Bill de Blasio regularly says stupid things, but this is literally the stupidest effing thing he’s ever said.”
But it’s far worse than simply being stupid; in fact, it’s incredibly dangerous. As the Orthodox Jewish community is terrorized by violent attacks, the mayor simply refuses to even acknowledge the problem exists. He is giving tacit approval to those who attack Jews by foolishly pretending that anti-Semitism is only to be found among conservatives. How can Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn trust that their mayor is working to solve this problem when he won’t even admit it is a problem?
In fact, the mayor is succumbing to a political correctness that will not allow him to criticize the mostly black and Latino men who are perpetrating these assaults. And let’s be clear: If any other group other than Jews were being targeted for such violence it would be at the top of the mayor’s list of concerns. Instead, he puts his head in the sand and ignores it because he doesn’t like the optics.
At yesterday’s presser, de Blasio said, “I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right.” Not only does this ignore the violent attacks in Brooklyn that only someone living in a fantasy land could believe is the result of Trump or Fox News, but it also ignores the anti-Semitic statements from Democrats like Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Perhaps de Blasio agrees with Omar that Jews are hypnotizing the world with their “Benjamins,” perhaps he believes that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state, perhaps he agrees with the virulent anti-Semitism of left-wing figures like Linda Sarsour. But part of his job is to ensure crime does not go rampant or unpunished. In this capacity, not only is he failing, but he is blatantly lying about who is committing these acts.
This is not a new story in New York City; in 1968 the Jewish Defense League was formed to protect Jews from exactly these kinds of attacks. Vigilantism is not the ideal way for Jews to protect themselves, but when the mayor refuses to act to put a stop to the violence, what other choice is there? Should they just get punched in face and smile knowing that de Blasio says this is just some kind of right-wing problem?
De Blasio is simply and totally negligent on this issue as mayor of New York City. The city needs its mayor to understand, accept, and address this issue with the gravity it requires. This is no time for political correctness to blind him to reality. But yesterday’s remarks make it clear that either de Blasio is as stupid as Borelli claims, or he just doesn’t care.
One thing is certain—the mayor is flat-out wrong about the nature of these attacks, and it is absurd to lay them at the feet of conservatives. Perhaps he is preening for his farcical presidential run, but whatever he is doing, he needs to stop, take stock of the reality on the ground, and work to protect the safety of his citizens—even if they happen to be Orthodox Jews.