It is preposterous to think an elected official in the United States can speak this way with impunity. It is even worse when you realize that this is the mayor of the city with the largest Jewish population speaking this way about us. That is compounded by the fact that he happens to be Jewish. Yet, what may even worse is that, with a few exceptions, no one even called him on it. No one condemned his racist, bigoted, ridiculous comment. No one asked what would have happened had he injected burkas for black hats. What would have happened had he substituted blacks for black hats? There would have been a hue and a cry. But, mock religious Jews and there is a complete wall of silence. Delegitimize the entire law-abiding community, for practicing their religion; and the silence is deafening.
There were a couple of elected officials who expressed what many in the community were thinking following the publication of the mayor’s spiteful comments.
“The Mayor’s comments were hurtful to the city’s half-million Jewish New Yorkers and should be offensive to all of the city’s 8.5 million people,” remarked City Councilman David Greenfield. “For the mayor to identify an entire religious group by the clothes they proudly wear is the basest of insults. It is even more offensive coming from a secular Jewish mayor. I don’t judge the mayor or his religious practice. Surely he has no right to judge me or other members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Simcha Felder, Deputy Comptroller of Budget and Accounting and a candidate for State Senate in the 17th Senate District, was also critical of Bloomberg.
“First the mayor moves to restrict our right to freely practice our religion,” said Felder. “Then he uses offensive and derisive language aimed towards our community. I am asking Mayor Bloomberg to apologize for these insensitive words, which simply do not have any place in our society, especially from our political leaders. I am also requesting that he end his attack on metzitzah b’peh and on religious freedom.”
“One has to now wonder if the mayor’s sudden opposition to metzizah b’peh was done simply for the sake of political expediency so he could claim to be standing up to a minority religious community. It’s ironic that the mayor appears to have respect for every other religion except his own,” Greenfield added.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he was pained to read Bloomberg’s comments belittling the seriousness with which the frum community has reacted to the city’s attacks on its time-honored traditions.
“The mayor is certainly entitled to his opinion on traditional circumcision, but it’s demeaning the way he characterizes it,” said Hikind. “Metzitzah b’peh is not a point of view. It’s a religious tenet. The mayor is certainly at liberty to take on unpopular issues, but describing his constituents in a demeaning and derogatory way is unbecoming of the mayor’s office. It’s insensitive and it’s offensive. Mr. Mayor, my community deserves more respect.
“When Mayor Bloomberg decided to run for a third term, he came to our community seeking favor with the chareidi community. He asked Orthodox, Torah-observant Jews to support his candidacy,” continued Hikind. “Now, when he finds those same people unanimously frightened by his personal agenda and aggressive stance against metzitzah b’peh, he quips, ‘Who wants to have 10,000 guys in black hats outside your office screaming’? But we weren’t Black Hats when he needed us.”
When running for reelection, Bloomberg went on record as promising that, if elected, he would ensure that no one would tamper with bris milah during his administration. Obviously, that promise has been thrown to the wind as he engages in an irrational jihad against metzitzah.