Mayor Bill de Blasio has drawn outrage over his tweet slamming a huge funeral for a rabbi who died of COVID-19 in which he said he instructed police to make arrests if necessary – while organizers claimed Hizzoner had actually approved the gathering in the first place.
Hundreds of Orthodox Jews gathered Tuesday night in the streets near Rutledge Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg to pay their respects for the rabbi, identified by The Yeshiva World as Chaim Mertz.
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
“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,” he said.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” the mayor added. “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.”
On Wednesday, the NYPD reported no summonses or arrests from the funeral.
Late Tuesday, a tweet by Satmar Headquarters said the funeral had been approved by the mayor.
“2 hours b4 it started, PD brought trucks with barriers/tower lights to close off Bedford Avenue and the surrounding area. It’s the @NYCMayor ’s Dept who originally approved it before deciding to take it back,” it said.
On Wednesday, City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie told The Post: “There was no event permit issued for this gathering.”
Jason Greenblatt, former special representative for international negotiations in the Trump administration, blasted de Blasio for his comments.
“Hey @NYCMayor, 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,” he said in a tweet.
“This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever,” Greenblatt added.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also weighed in.
“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. #ProtectFreeExercise,” he tweeted.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said: “I can’t imagine de Blasio saying this about any other community. It’s pretty amazing. And for the record, MANY of the leaders of the Jewish community have taken strong stands on social distancing.”
Twitter user Sofia Bitela wrote: “This is really a tone deaf and disgusting tweet by the mayor. First of all, the Haredi rarely intermingle outside of their community. How are they a threat to other New Yorkers?
She added: “Second, they may the community closet to herd immunity in NYC or the US. Leave them alone.”
But others also defended de Blasio amid the backlash.
“The comments under this are full of idiots calling Bill de Blasio an anti-Semite. No you morons, this isn’t anti-semetism (sic),” Twitter user @SimonPhoenix_wrote.
“Parts of the Hasidic Jewish community in New York act as if they’re above the law here & always have. About time an NYC mayor had the balls to call them out,” he added.
User John Montoya said he applauded the mayor and police.
“THIS IS SERIOUS , DEADLY I’D TELL YOU TO ASK 59,000+ AMERICANS BUT THEY CAN NO LONGER TELL YOU THIS IS NOT ABOUT JEWS THIS IS ABOUT HUMANS !!!!” he wrote.