Lecturing his fellow New Yorkers about just how dangerous religious gatherings are in particular, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) used a 14-year-old photo to deceptively claim the Jewish community has been skirting mask mandates “in recent weeks.”
Cuomo argued during a Monday news conference that religious institutions “have been a problem” during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the 2006 photo of Jewish mourners is proof the community has been troublesome in the “recent past.”
#BREAKING: Cuomo threatens to close religious institutions that do not follow guidelines: "If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we'll close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that." pic.twitter.com/nEb2kxRl96
— The Hill (@thehill) October 5, 2020
The confusion came as the governor announced he is prepared to shutter synagogues in New York City if Jewish congregants don’t comply with all the state’s and city’s pandemic mandates.
“We know religious institutions have been a problem,” Cuomo claimed. “We know mass gatherings are the super-spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks.”
“I don’t mean little violations,” he continued to lecture. “I’m talking: you’re only supposed to have 50 outdoors. … They had 1,000.”
He then pointed to photographs on his slideshow presentation, which he said were taken over “the past couple of weeks.” The picture on the left, however, was taken by Associated Press photographer Stuart Samson in April 2006 during a memorial service for the late Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum.
Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner first noticed the mix up:
Gov. Cuomo on COVID super spreaders: “We know religious institutions have been a problem."
"These are pictures from the past couple of weeks. And these are just emblematic."
— tsar becket adams (@BecketAdams) October 6, 2020
Naturally, since the photo is 14 years old, Cuomo quickly noted the people in the image aren’t wearing face masks and aren’t distancing themselves from one another. The governor, seemingly picking up on the fact that the picture was so old, asked one of his staffers: “When were these pictures from?”
The employee responded, simply telling Cuomo the photograph on the right is “more recent than the one on the left.”
“OK,” he replied. “But they’re in the recent past. So this has been going on for weeks.”
Cuomo is not the only famous New York politician to target the Jewish community. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has also set his sights on Jewish people.
In April, when pandemic lockdowns were still in full swing, de Blasio, a failed presidential hopeful, singled out Jewish people who joined together for a funeral at a time when people of all stripes were skirting the rules. He warned them: “The time for warnings has passed.”
Despite being roundly condemned for specifically targeting Jewish people, the mayor did it again in May, proudly declaring the New York Police Department had shut down a Yeshiva — a Jewish seminary — for conducting classes “with as many as 70 children.”
“We’re issuing a cease and desist order and will make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe,” he wrote.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) condemned the 59-year-old de Blasio for posting such a “gleeful tweet about sending cops after Jews,” urging the U.S. Department of Justice to “investigate to make sure he’s not violating constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties.” Similarly, Anti-Defamation League National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called out the mayor for “scapegoating Jews.”
Alas, it happened again in June, when a group of Hasidic Jewish children were reportedly booted from a Brooklyn park despite thousands of people gathering to participate in Black Lives Matter protests, a direct violation of the city’s coronavirus restrictions.
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