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Trump shares tweet calling New York City mayor 'an anti-Semite thug'

President suggests New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is antisemitic after night of demonstrations by Orthodox Jews that saw some burn their masks
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Borough Park section of Brooklyn in New York City on 6 October (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump suggested that New York's Democratic mayor is antisemitic after a night of protests by Orthodox Jews over coronavirus lockdown orders targeting their neighbourhoods.

Early on Wednesday, Trump retweeted a post by conservative actor James Woods calling Mayor Bill de Blasio an "an anti-Semite thug piece of s**t" over a video showing police officers dispersing Orthodox Jewish demonstrators in Brooklyn.

Trump added his own comment: "Wow, what does this grim picture remind you of? I am the only thing in the Radical Left's way! VOTE."

On Tuesday night, hundreds of Jewish protesters had gathered to voice objection to Governor Andrew Cuomo's renewed lockdown orders in places that saw a surge in the virus in and around New York City.

The new directives, announced on Tuesday, shut schools and non-essential businesses and restricted religious services to a maximum of 10 people.

The shutdown, to be implemented later this week, coincided with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which is marked with large family gatherings. 

Social media posts showed protesters lighting a small fire in Brooklyn's Borough Park where some demonstrators burned their masks late on Tuesday.

Orthodox Jewish community advocates had rejected the governor's order, which came after an uptick in cases in New York where the novel virus has killed close to 24,000 people since March.

Agudath Israel, an umbrella group for Orthodox rabbis, called the governor's order "appalling" and "deeply offensive".

Still, the group called for caution to quell the spread of the virus.

"We have considerable concerns that Governor Cuomo’s capricious actions will weaken compliance with good health practices," the group said in a statement. "We cannot allow our – perhaps justifiable – anger at government to imperil our neighbors’ health."

Four Jewish politicians also released a letter calling the shutdown "scientifically and constitutionally questionable". 

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"His administration’s utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic, and particularly recently as we face this uptick," the statement said.

In April, de Blasio faced backlash after posting a tweet criticising New York's Jewish community over a large funeral procession.

"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed," de Blasio wrote on Twitter at the time. 

"I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period." 

Although a significant majority of Jewish Americans favour the Democratic Party, Trump has often tried to paint Democrats as antisemitic amid progressives' criticism of Israel.

Last year, he accused Jewish Democrats of being "disloyal" in a comment that was slammed for perpetuating antisemitic tropes of dual loyalty. 

The president, who is recovering from Covid-19 himself, has been critical of lockdown orders in Democratic-led states, despite the advice of experts.

Earlier on Wednesday, he accused Democrats of pushing to close down churches.

"DEMS WANT TO SHUT YOUR CHURCHES DOWN, PERMANENTLY," he wrote on Twitter. "HOPE YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. VOTE NOW!"