Mezuzah Burning Draws Denunciations From Candidates

Councilwoman James addresses the crowd.

Councilwoman James addresses the crowd.

Yesterday, vandals burned close to a dozen mezuzahs–religious artifacts affixed to doors–in front of Jewish homes in Williamsburg, drawing widespread outrage both in the local community and among candidates for higher office. This morning, several such pols were among the officials at a press conference blasting the perpetrators.

“Today all of us are Jewish and all of us celebrate this wonderful community,”  Councilwoman Tish James, a candidate for public advocate, proclaimed. “But I’ve come here today to say that the individual or individuals that is responsible for this most heinous crime will be prosecuted … You will be caught and it is in your best interest to turn yourself in. In fact, I urge you to turn yourself in before anyone in this community gets their hand on you. It’s in your best interest.”

Several elected official behind Ms. James, including Council Speaker Chris Quinn, visibly reacted to the “get their hands on you” reference to vigilantism, but they still took their own turns to condemn the muzuzah burning, which occurred on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as a hate crime.

“Make no mistake, that was a coordinated hate crime perpetrated on Holocaust Remembrance Day–clearly an act designed to spread fear into the hearts of New Yorkers, in particular the Jewish community,” Ms. Quinn firmly stated. “So I’m out here to send a very strong message to the coward or cowards who have perpetrated this crime: your actions do not reflect the belief or feelings of New Yorkers. Our city’s greatest strength is our diversity and we will not tolerate acts of hate.”

Several of Ms. Quinn’s rivals in this year’s mayoral race also issued statements on the controversy. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was first out of the gate yesterday, followed by former Comptroller Bill Thompson today.

“Nothing but hatred can explain why someone would burn mezuzahon Yom Hashoah, the day we remember the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is a sickening act of prejudice that strikes at the very core of who we are as a city.”

View Ms. James’ comments below, video courtesy of Shimon Gifter:
[youtube Mezuzah Burning Draws Denunciations From Candidates