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April 1, 2020 3:18 pm

Jewish Groups Condemn Surge of Coronavirus-Related Antisemitic Social Media Posts in New York’s Rockland County

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An ambulance worker sprays disinfectant inside an ambulance outside The Brooklyn Hospital Center during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, March 31, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Brendan Mcdermid.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County expressed concern about a sharp increase in antisemitic social media posts regarding the coronavirus pandemic and Orthodox Jews.

Evan R. Bernstein – vice president of the ADL’s Northeast Division – stated, “All of us in Rockland County — residents, community leaders, and elected officials — are facing this public health crisis together. The scapegoating and finger-pointing that we have seen in recent days, coupled with a surge in antisemitism online, serves no purpose other than to distract and divide us. Now is the time for unity, not for placing blame.”

“We call on all people of good faith to reject the blatant antisemitism arising out of Rockland County, to rely only on data that is valid, reliable and accurate, and to heed the advice of medical professionals,” he added. “Rockland County is a strong and resilient community, but only when we work together.”

Gary Siepser — chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County — said, “This crisis touches every single person in our county, state and country. In these challenging times, it is vital that we come together to ensure that facts and statistics are used to educate the public in order to keep people healthy — not to point fingers or perpetuate hate.”

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Steve Gold — co-president of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County — noted, “There is absolutely no excuse for public health data to be used in a way that perpetuates antisemitism or hatred. We are all in this together and it is important to remember that viruses do not discriminate, and neither should we.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, as of mid-afternoon on Wednesday, there were 2,863 positive cases of coronavirus in Rockland County — located northwest of New York City, across the Hudson River, and home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.

Nearly 1/3 of Rockland’s population of more than 300,000 people are Jews — giving it the biggest per capita Jewish population of any US county.

In December, the Rockland hamlet of Monsey was the scene of a deadly antisemitic stabbing attack at a Hanukkah party.

Earlier last year, the Rockland County Republican Party aired a video that was widely condemned as antisemitic.

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