An angry crowd displayed antisemitic symbols including a swastika and yellow Star of David outside the office of Jewish politician Jeffrey Dinowitz on Sunday.
The New York State Assemblyman expected anti-vax mandate protesters after offering support for a bill that would require children to be immunized to Covid-19 to attend school, but he never imagined the Bronx to display such antisemitism.
The anti-vax protest was organized by Rob Astorino, according to NBC News, a republican running for governor of New York.
“I am disgusted and offended by the antisemitic imagery that was brought to my office by apparent supporters of Rob Astorino’s failing gubernatorial campaign,” Dinowitz said in an official statement. “People are free to express their opinions on vaccine policy and on any issue, but I draw the line at swastikas.”
He called the signs held by the Bronx protesters “repugnant and offensive.”
From photos of the protest shared by Dinowitz on Twitter, there appeared to be at least two dozen people outside, along with republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.
One man can be seen wearing the yellow Star of David, while another woman is shown to the left of Astorino holding a sing displaying a swastika that read “Crime Against Humanity.” The sign allegedly equated coronavirus vaccine mandates with Nazi doctors experimenting on people in concentration camps.
“[T]o stand next to swastikas and yellow Stars of David outside of a Jewish legislator’s office shows a lack of integrity at best and an embrace of right-wing extremism at worst. This is not who New York needs as Governor,” Dinowitz continued.
He called on Astorino to denounce the hatred from his supporters and “condemn in the strongest terms” the use of antisemitic imagery.
Speaking out on Monday, Astorino alleged that he not only did not see the swastika sign the women held to his left at the rally, but that she “had a different sign when I met her prior to the event.”
Posting a photo of the two shaking hands on Twitter, the woman can be seen tucking the swastika sign under her arm while holding another sign that read “Fear is the real virus.”
“Regardless of who the woman was or why she was there, if I saw the sign I would have stopped and had it removed,” he conceded. “Absolutely inappropriate.”
Other Anti-Vaxxers at the rally appear to have signs that strictly reference the vaccine, and not antisemitic imagery, indicating that attacking the Jewish politician based on his religious and cultural identity was not the indented plan of the protest.
“It’s about anti-mandate,” one woman told reporters at the protest. “All parents should have a choice about whether their children are vaccinated or not.”
Doubling down after the protest, Jeffrey Dinowitz stated that he “refuse[d] to be cowed by anti-Semites or anti-science extremists.”
“Vaccine requirements have a demonstrably positive impact on vaccination rates, and vaccination rates have a demonstrably positive impact on reducing fatalities and hospitalizations from preventable diseases,” he said. “The fact that children have to get the vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, etc. That’s a mandate. You have to wear your seatbelt in your car. That is a mandate. You’re driving on the right side of the car–mandate.”
Other New York politicians spoke out on social media, as well, denouncing the woman and Astorino for letting antisemitism cloud his protest.
“These blatant displays of antisemitic hate are disgusting, and I stand with Jeffrey Dinowitz in rejecting this shameful, unacceptable behavior to the Jewish community,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also slammed the event, calling it “an insult to our Jewish community.”
Dinowitz bill requiring a vaccination mandate for students has yet to be debated by the New York State Assembly.