The Anti-Defamation League and a suburban New York Jewish federation expressed concern on Thursday about several of what were described as “very concerning and highly anti-Semitic” social media posts targeting the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, New York, northwest of New York City, in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.
“All of us in Rockland County – residents, community leaders, and elected officials – are facing this public health crisis together,” Evan Bernstein, the vice president of ADL’s Northeast Division said. “The scapegoating and finger-pointing that we have seen in recent days, coupled with a surge in anti-Semitism online, serves no purpose other than to distract and divide us.”
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt life across the globe, some Orthodox Jews in the New York area have expressed concern that the epidemic could prompt a return of the anti-Semitic rhetoric that emerged during the measles outbreak that swept the community last year. In an interview last month, Bernstein told Haaretz that the ADL was already seeing “little pockets of this stuff” happening online.
In recent weeks, New York’s Orthodox Jewish community has faced unwelcome attention following reports that some members of the community have been breaking social distancing rules issued by authorities in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
“Now is the time for unity, not for placing blame,” Bernstein said. “Rockland County is a strong and resilient community, but only when we work together.” The Rockland County community of Monsey was the scene of a machete attack at a rabbi’s Hanukkah party in December that left one dead and four wounded.
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The recent anti-Semitic posts cited public health statistics and included calls for Orthodox Jews to be singled out for different treatment from other Rockland County residents in the wake of the corona epidemic. The county had 3,321 confirmed corona cases as of Wednesday, according to the state health department.
“There is absolutely no excuse for public health data to be used in a way that perpetuates anti-Semitism or hatred,” said Steve Gold, the co-president of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County. “We are all in this together and it is important to remember that viruses do not discriminate, and neither should we.”