VIN Editorial: Governor Cuomo’s Unhealthy Obsession with the Jewish Community

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NEW YORK (VIN News Editorial) – Once again, Governor Andrew Cuomo took advantage of an opportunity to cast aspersions on the Jewish community, using his Inauguration Day press briefing to paint COVID as a problem stemming from the Jewish community.

Addressing statewide positivity rates, vaccinations and hospitalization numbers, Cuomo delivered pearls of wisdom that were anything but precious.

“Hospitalization rate is what they call a lagging indicator,” said the governor. “What does that mean? That means you get infected. You go to a Hanukkah party and you get infected.”

Never mind that just moments earlier Cuomo had singled out the Finger Lakes region for its high positivity and hospitalization rates, an area which certainly isn’t known as a hotbed of Jewish life. When it came time to pointing the finger of blame for rising COVID rates, Governor Cuomo skipped over Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gatherings and New Year’s Eve parties, choosing the holiday of Chanukah to be the poster child for spiking infection rates.

This isn’t the first time that Cuomo has taken aim at the Jewish community. Back in mid-November, Cuomo appealed to New Yorkers to scale back their Thanksgiving gatherings, politely asking them to limit attendance to ten people. Yes, this was the same governor who just a month earlier came down hard on Jewish communities in his newly designated colored zones, warning that any gatherings of more than 10 people in a red zone would be subject to $15,000 fines. And yes, this was the same Cuomo who described an emerging area of COVID cases in Brooklyn as a “predominantly an ultra-Orthodox cluster” in October, adding fuel to the fire by openly admitting that he was closing nearby Catholic schools because of their proximity to the Orthodox Jewish community. One week later, Cuomo made his views clear again saying, “we’re now having issues in the Orthodox Jewish community in New York, where because of their religious practices, etc., we’re seeing a spread.”

Cuomo’s jabs at the Jewish community have gone beyond COVID. In a January 19th interview with WAMC on the final moments of the Trump presidency, host Alan Chartok asked Cuomo to share his thoughts about a potential pardon for Sheldon Silver.

“I don’t believe there’s always logic,” observed Cuomo. “I don’t know that it’s premediated. It could just be a favor for some contact, a favor for someone in the Jewish community.”

The idea that Governor Cuomo is trying to cast Chanukah as the entity that is spreading COVID throughout the state is truly ironic. Wasn’t it just one year ago on Chanukah 2019, that Cuomo stood shoulder to shoulder in Monsey with Rabbi Chaim Leibish Rottenberg after a horrific machete attack in his home that took the life of a 72 year old man, speaking about the importance of tolerance? Didn’t the governor himself talk about the importance of appreciating our differences, noting that America was founded on the basis of religious freedom?

At that same press conference, Cuomo proudly declared, “George Washington celebrated with the Jewish community. That’s what America is all about.” How sad that just thirteen months later it is Cuomo himself who is trying to divide New Yorkers, obsessively using the Jewish community as a convenient scapegoat on any and all occasions, dangerously fanning the flames of anti-Semitism.

It pains us deeply to see the cherished friendship that New York’s Jewish community shared with Governor Mario Cuomo being discarded so cavalierly. Mario Cuomo was a man of honor who stood by his principles, a true leader who deeply respected people of all faiths.

If only we could say the same about his son.


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