Brooklyn was seething Thursday after a second night of demonstrations in the New York City borough by Orthodox Jews enraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 battle against their neighborhoods.
The epicenter of anger was in the Borough Park section where a rally in support of President Donald Trump turned violent on Wednesday night. At least a hundred Hasidim set fires and burned masks on the street and denounced both Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill an de Blasio.
Local arsonist and city council candidate Harold “Heshy” Tischler ordered the crowd to sing a reporter named Jacob Kornbluh, who covered the story for The Jewish Insider, local media reported. But the situation escalated and Kornbluh said he was attacked by the crowd.
“I was just brutally attacked, hit in the head, and kicked by an angry crowd of hundreds of Boro Park protestors ̵
Kornbluh’s report appeared to be backed up by a video posted by a Gothamist reporter on Twitter in which carpenter yelled at the cornered reporter, “You’re a Moyser (snitch). Everyone screams ‘Moyser!’ ”
Carpenter did not immediately return a request for comment.
Previously, another man identified as Berish Getz by the New York Daily News and other media outlets was knocked unconscious when he was seen on video taping the demonstration.
In other coronavirus developments
- The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in coronavirus cases worldwide, with the total increasing 338,779 in just 24 hours. A surge in infections in Europe was responsible for the record increase, particularly in countries like the UK, Belgium, France and Poland. The United States accounts for about a fifth of the world’s 36.3 million cases.
- With Wisconsin now one of the Covid-19 hotspots in the US, the Green Bay Packers said they will be banning fans from Lambeau Field indefinitely. “We’re trending in the wrong direction with hospitalizations and positive cases,” said team president Mark Murphy. The NFL teams in Florida also limit the crowd, even though Governor Ron DeSantis has encouraged them to pack the stadiums.
- First-time US jobless claims rose to 840,000 last week. That was 15,000 more than expected and another sign of economic recovery from the pandemic was sputtering. The unemployment rate when President Donald Trump took office was 4.8 percent. It is now 8.4 percent.
- The respected New England Journal of Medicine broke with tradition and urged Americans to vote for the politicians who botched the nation’s pandemic response out of office. The editorial didn’t mention Trump by name, but it was “full of allusions to his actions,” NBC News reported. On Trump’s watch, more than 213,000 people in the United States have died of Covid-19 and 7.6 million have been infected. Both are world leaders.
- Trump is one of the infected. And the fact that about a dozen other people in the White House contracted the coronavirus shows the limits of testing to prevent the virus from spreading, public health expert Megan Ranney wrote for NBC News “Think”.
- As a sign of low confidence in the White House contact tracing team, the Washington, DC Health Department released an open letter urging anyone attending a September 26 event in the Rose Garden to see a doctor and get tested. Many of the infections in the White House are linked to the event Trump held to introduce Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett.
- One prominent Republican who did not attend this event was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Why? “I haven’t been to the White House since Aug. 6 because my impression was that their approach to dealing (covid spread) was different from mine and I insisted that we in the Senate wear a mask and practice social distancing” said McConnell.
De Blasio on Thursday condemned the violence, saying more police officers would be dispatched to borough park.
When asked why the city hadn’t thought of it sooner, especially since the New York Police Department came into effect over the largely peaceful protest by George Floyd, de Blasio said: “We have to act consistently.”
“We have to make sure that all communities are treated equally,” said the mayor.
However, as of Thursday, no one had been arrested in connection with the attacks on Kornbluh or Getz.
Anger was fueled by new restrictions Cuomo revealed Tuesday to combat a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in New York City’s island neighborhoods, where Orthodox Jews prevail and where resistance to the wearing of masks and others is prevalent Measures to contain the spread existed from the virus.
After the nation’s Covid-19 hotspot, New York City, and the rest of the state flattened the curve, Cuomo said he didn’t want to jeopardize that progress.
To support his argument that stricter steps should be taken, Cuomo showed photos of Orthodox synagogues where hundreds of believers were huddled together for church services. He also noted that the positivity rate in these neighborhoods of Brooklyn was a worrying 5 percent, compared to 1 percent in the rest of the state.
“To the extent that there are churches that are upset, it’s because they didn’t follow the original rules,” said Cuomo. “That’s why the infection spread because they didn’t follow the rules and the rules weren’t enforced.”
Four elected officials representing the area issued a statement saying they were “appalled” by Cuomo’s move, particularly during the Jewish holiday in Sukkot. To their dismay, they were joined by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, a Roman Catholic, who claimed the governor was attacking religious freedom.
Trump, who recently returned to the White House despite still being infected with Covid-19, earlier addressed the Brooklyn confrontations by retweeted conservative actor James Woods, who condemned the NYPD for having one Monday night Had canceled the Sukkot celebration, which was against the state’s pandemic restrictions.
And there was more defiance in the street.
“Here in Borough Park, we’re not obeying America’s laws,” a protester yelled to reporters on Wednesday. “We have our own laws.”
But that feeling is by no means universal in the New York City Jewish community.
“We support the governor’s and mayor’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 by using a data-driven, geographic-based approach,” said Matt Nosanchuk, president of the New York Jewish Agenda, in a statement Wednesday. “Today more than 300 rabbis and other Jewish religious leaders came together to make it clear that there is no greater Jewish value than saving a human life.”
Meanwhile, a Brooklyn rabbi who lost both his parents and an older sister to Covid-19 helped City Hall get the message across to his community that wearing masks and social distancing save lives.
“I’m more sensitive to it,” Rabbi Robert Blustein of the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center in Kensington told The City, a local news website.