U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday over the city’s most recent coronavirus restrictions, including closing schools and yeshivahs, while threatening to shutter synagogues and other houses of worship. The move has resulted in protests in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish communities, particularly in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I think that there has to be a balance between allowing the fair and free exercise of First Amendment rights on the one hand and maintaining public health on the other. That’s very important,” Carr told JNS. “And I think that singling any one community is deeply troubling.”

He added, “I won’t comment on public-health measures, but it has to be fairly applied. And singling out a particular ethnic community or a particular religious community is not acceptable.”

As it pertains to protests by these communities against such measures, where a journalist was assaulted last week, Carr said: “This is America. Thank G-d, Americans have a right to express their views on the subjects of the day, and if that means protesting, as long as it’s peaceful, they’re allowed to do that. Sadly, what we’ve seen recently is riots and looting and bedlam and pandemonium in the streets of America’s cities and, obviously, that’s not conduct protected by the First Amendment.”

When asked if the actions of Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio targeting the Jewish community during the ongoing pandemic have been anti-Semitic, Carr expressly responded: “No.”

“I wouldn’t call them anti-Semitic,” he said, but they could have handled the situation far better with communities wanting to “worship and attend funerals, and live as a Jew.”

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