Mayor De Blasio Calls Susan Lerner’s Language, “A Horrible Characterization,” Defends Constitutional Rights of Yeshivas

Mayor De Blasio Calls Susan Lerner’s Language, “A Horrible Characterization,” Defends Constitutional Rights of Yeshivas

By Yehudit Garmaise

   After Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, criticized and dismissed mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s support for yeshivas as an attempt to appeal to “an extremist bloc” two weeks ago in Gothamist, BoroPark24 asked Mayor Bill de Blasio what he thought of such inflammatory language.

    “Would you describe the use of the term “extremist bloc” to describe of a community of 250,000 people who are comprised of widely different viewpoints and 275 vastly different yeshivas as reflecting inclusive language and respectful of cultural diversity?” BoroPark24 asked the mayor this morning at his press conference.

    “I know Susan Lerner, and she is someone I have worked with and respect, but I find her comments absolutely wrong,” Mayor de Blasio said. “And I find them unacceptable.

    “I think she should immediately clarify them and recognize that it is just not fair to characterize such a large and diverse community that way.”

    BoroPark24 pointed out that the word “extremist” usually refers to terrorists and violent people, not people who simply want to send determine the curricula of their children’s schools so as to reflect their own values, texts, and traditions.

    Mayor de Blasio agreed. 

    “No, that is a really horrible characterization, an unfair characterization,” said the mayor, who added that the Jewish community “is very diverse community, a community that contributes a lot to the city. A community that is often misunderstood.” 

     After Lerner first used her derogatory language Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein feared that is would stoke anti-Semitism.

     “How ironic that the executive director of an organization that bills itself as promoting ‘equal rights, opportunity and representation for all’ should label the entire Orthodox Jewish community as an 'extremist bloc?'” asked Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein.

     The mayor emphasized the need for the city and the state to work together “in a respectful manner that also respects people’s Constitutional rights.

    “That is the balance we have struck, and in fact we have found overwhelmingly is a good outcome. With real work, there was an agreement on how to improve the curriculum for the benefit of everyone. 

    “That is the way to work together. That is the way to work forward.”

    The mayor also tied in Lerner’s remarks with a spate of hate crimes that have been directed at Asian communities of late.

    “I have had to stand with our Jewish communities, our Muslim communities, our Sikh communities,” the mayor said. “We have seen hatred and violence directed at different communities, and it is absolutely unacceptable in New York City.

    “In every case, the answer is: All other communities should come to the defense of whatever community is under attack.

   We have to be there for each other.” 

      After the press conference, Assemblyman Eichenstein reached out to Boro Park 24 to voice his appreciation to the mayor for his refusal to accept such hateful speech in New York City.

     “Thank you, Mayor de Blasio, for condemning this outrageous and divisive language,” Assemblyman Eichenstein said. “There’s no place for bigoted and divisive language, let alone at a good government organization. Susan Lerner is not fit for this position. She must resign.”

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

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