- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended Tuesday his crackdown on an underground yeshiva, saying it was “absolutely unacceptable” for the Orthodox Jewish school to violate the city’s pandemic order against large gatherings.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable what the folks at this yeshiva did,” said Mr. de Blasio on the PIX 11 Morning News. “They had been warned, everyone had been warned so many times.”

At the same time, he said the Nitra Yeshiva in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood would not be issued a summons after being caught with about 70 people inside, saying that they obeyed a police order to disperse.

“The NYPD, if they find any gathering, they’re going to break it up,” Mr. de Blasio said. “But the first goal is just for people to disperse and not come back. The summons is there for anyone who resists, so in this case as I understand it, they immediately dispersed.”

He added, “They will not be coming back, I assure you, and if we have to shut down that building entirely, we will.”

The episode comes with the mayor’s relationship with the Jewish community already tense after he broke up a funeral gathering for an Orthodox rabbi last month in Brooklyn, prompting accusations of selective enforcement.

Earlier that day, large crowds had gathered for a Blue Angels flyover without any reaction from police, but Mr. de Blasio later warned “the Jewish community, and all communities” that “the time for warnings has passed.”

“Stop going after Jews,” tweeted Republican state Senate candidate J.T. Lewis. “At least pretend you’re not targeting a single group.”

Others noted that the city has continued to allow public transit, despite the large crowds and enclosed spaces, and that children are generally at low risk for the novel coronavirus.

Tweeted Georgetown Law School professor Randy Barnett: “Let’s face it folks. Large gatherings of Jews just set him off for some reason.”

Others asked if the city’s failure to issue a summons was an indication of favoritism toward the Orthodox Jewish community.

“I have to ask this just because we had this conversation last week about a related issue: Do you have some kind of political understanding with leaders of the Orthodox community that there will basically be no enforcement around this?” asked Spectrum News NY1’s Errol Louis.

Mr. de Blasio insisted that “we’re going to treat everyone the same. No gatherings, period.”



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