“Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews burn masks in violent protests.” So ran a recent Washington Post headline. This stands in stark contrast to the great lengths the media went to cast Black Lives Matter protests as “mostly peaceful ” despite it resulting in more than a billion dollars in damages, making it the costliest riots in history.
While only a handful out of the several hundred protesters got physical in the altercations over the past few nights, it is nevertheless cast as the defining part of the event by malicious media and politicians. When asked during a press conference why no arrests had been made, de Blasio said, “There is something here that needs to be fixed right away. There clearly need to be consequences for the people involved, and I don’t know why that hasn’t happened already.” This sudden zeal and urgency is a dramatic departure for Mr. de Blasio who was incredibly slow to stop the devastating riots in NYC this past summer.
That being said, it is clear that physical violence will only hurt the message the community is trying to send. People who see nonviolent protests are more likely to support the cause and they are more likely to recoil from groups that resort to violence. There are appropriate measures such as social ostracization under Rabbinical guidance that are far more effective ways to deal with individuals who actively work against the interests of the community. All effort should be made to discourage further such incidents so that the community can focus on showing, peacefully, their unwillingness to comply with the unjust heavy-handed approach of the Governor.
Cuomo and DeBlasio must be made to realize that:
1. Their allowance of mass gatherings during BLM protests has made any restrictions they attempt to place on our community nothing but a spectacular display of hypocrisy. Despite any attempts by the Mayor to split hairs, there is no justification for such arbitrary, capricious, preferential behavior.
2. Shutting down an entire community based solely on rates of Covid infections is an excessive and disproportionate response. It is far more important to look at the hospitalization and death rates which are a fraction of what they were in April. Treatment has also gotten better with newer drugs and improved medical tactics.
3. They cannot expect to be able to repeatedly shut down synagogues, schools and local businesses indefinitely. With a Covid vaccine likely to be only 50% effective and no cure in sight, their ludicrous assumption that the best policy every time there is an uptick in the rate of Covid infection is a complete lockdown of local areas effectively means that the city will be in an untenable state of shutting down in perpetuity. Left unchecked, this will result in the destruction of the city. The cure of lockdowns will have become worse than the disease.
4. Repeated use of executive orders by the Governor have effectively made him into a one-man government (i.e. a dictator). As in the case of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, where the state Supreme Court ruled that she had violated her constitutional authority by continuing to issue orders to combat COVID-19 without the approval of state lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo orders must and will be challenged in court.
This is not to say that the community is completely unwilling to adopt reasonable measures to better control the spread of the virus. When the mayor stated that unless mask wearing and social distancing was adopted en masse the community would be placed under lockdown, the populace responded appreciably and with goodwill.
Had the Governor acted with sense, moderation, and tact, the community would likewise have acquiesced and certainty would not have revolted in such a manner. Instead Gov. Cuomo has broken promises to our local elected officials and kept them in the dark. He has introduced heavy-handed, irrational measures that have no basis in reality in addition to using aggressive inciting and insulting rhetoric. After promising our elected officials that synagogues will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, he subsequently and unilaterally retracted and ordered that no synagogue be allowed more than 10 people regardless of capacity. It is completely illogical that 11 people in a large spacious area are more of a risk than 10 people in a smaller confined area. Our community cannot become a means for Andrew Cuomo to redeem himself by overcompensating for his disastrous nursing home policy fiasco that led to thousands of deaths.
The Governor and Mayor must return to the negotiating table with our elected officials, so that sane, reasonable measures can be put into place that balance both control of the virus and the needs of the community.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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