‘What does this grim picture remind you of?’ Trump asks about NYC’s crackdown on Jewish gatherings


(JTA) — Following a night of protests and unrest in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, President Donald Trump shared a tweet calling New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio “an anti-Semite thug,” and appeared to compare NYPD intervention in Jewish gatherings to historical anti-Semitic regimes.

Massive and at times violent demonstrations took place in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn Tuesday night, protesting against lockdown restrictions recently imposed on the neighborhoods due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Protesters burned masks and blocked a city bus. At one point, a group of protesters severely beat an advocate of mask-wearing.

One night earlier, late Monday night, police broke up a crowd celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot due to social distancing regulations. A video of that scene has garnered 1.4 million views on Twitter.

James Woods, an actor who has built a prolific pro-Trump Twitter presence, shared the video Wednesday morning and suggested that Jews in New York City face persecution resembling what Jews faced when Nazis sent them to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

(De Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, but he did not have a good relationship with his father and later changed his name.)

Trump shared Woods’ tweet on Wednesday morning and also appeared to make a Holocaust comparison, asking “Wow, what does this grim picture remind you of?”

The president has frequently disparaged mask-wearing and lockdown regulations as responses to COVID-19, and people in the Orthodox neighborhoods have cited his leadership and right-wing antipathy toward mask-wearing as one reason why relatively few people in the area wear masks.

Trump has long suggested that the most severe anti-Semitism comes from the left, and said last year that Jews who vote for Democrats show “disloyalty.” His critics counter that he has encouraged far-right extremism, including in his declining to condemn white supremacists at last week’s presidential debate, where he told the Proud Boys, a far-right group, to “stand back and stand by.” Meanwhile, while some Jewish groups say they are open to comparing facets of his leadership to that of Hitler early in his rise to power, many others say Holocaust comparisons of any nature continue to remain unacceptable.

No one was arrested during the gathering Monday or protest Tuesday, according to the New York Police Department.

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