Jewish leaders in NYC call for revival of anti-mask law to curb alarming surge in antisemitic incidents - Hindustan Times
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Jewish leaders in NYC call for revival of anti-mask law to curb alarming surge in antisemitic incidents

ByShweta Kukreti
Jun 13, 2024 06:13 PM IST

Jewish community leaders in New York City are pushing for the resurrection of an anti-mask law to stop demonstrators from hiding their real identities.

Amidst an alarming surge in antisemitic incidents across the US , a number of Jewish community leaders in New York City are pushing for the resurrection of an anti-mask law to stop demonstrators from hiding their real identities during hate-filled protests, according to the New York Post.

Prominent Jewish figures have voiced their support for bringing back an anti-mask law that was formerly used to counter the Ku Klux Klan's disguised identity. (AP )
Prominent Jewish figures have voiced their support for bringing back an anti-mask law that was formerly used to counter the Ku Klux Klan's disguised identity. (AP )

Prominent Jewish figures have voiced their support for bringing back an anti-mask law that was formerly used to counter the Ku Klux Klan's disguised identity. This demand comes in response to an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against Jews, with the NYPD reporting that these occurrences increased by 150% in May.

Protesters commandeered a NYC subway train on Monday in an unexpected incident. They all had either COVID masks, balaclavas, keffiyehs or sunglasses to hide their faces. They asked "Zionists" to raise their hands, announcing that "This is your chance to get out."

In another similar incident at Union Square, two demonstrators, while having their faces shielded with masks, raised a banner that read “Long Live October 7.”

Anti-Defamation League calls it ‘an emergency’, demands mask law

Speaking to NY POST, Anti-Defamation League's regional director, Scott Richman, asserted that “This is a crisis, an emergency.”

"We need a comprehensive plan to stop the rising tide of antisemitism to protect Jewish New Yorkers and all New Yorkers,” he said, stressing that "a mask law will make a difference."

According to Richman, the group ought to support similar legislation once more, having first pushed for them across the US in the 1950s. He highlighted how anti-mask legislation had historically been successful in weakening the Ku Klux Klan and claimed that the rule can play an extremely important role now.

After being in effect for almost 200 years, New York's legislation was struck down in 2020 amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Also Read: Homes of Brooklyn Museum's Jewish leaders vandalised with antisemitic graffiti

NYDP data reveals surge in antisemitic incidents

The seriousness of the problem is further illustrated by NYPD data, which states that around 173 antisemitic hate crimes occurred in 2024, as compared to the 101 that were reported in 2023.

Meanwhile, Staten Island Republican Assemblyman Michael Reilly has proposed a measure to restore the mask ban, laying the foundation for future legislative action.

Emphasizing the nature of these masked protests as targeted harassment, Legal Voices has questioned the safeguards that these protests have under the First Amendment.

"These protests are not protected under the First Amendment because they are engaged in targeted harassment and incitement of violence," said Matthew Schweber, a member of Jewish Alumni Association at Columbia University.

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