Republican mayoral nominee Curtis Sliwa made bigoted generalizations about Jews in a 2018 videotaped rant in which he accused the ultra-orthodox community in New York of making “babies like there’s no tomorrow,” not voting “the way normal Americans vote” and being abusers of welfare.
At the time, Sliwa said the Reform Party, which he headed, would only endorse candidates who agreed to oppose “the bloc” — which he identified as the ultra-orthodox leadership and their followers.
“We’re not talking about poor, impoverished, disabled people who need help. We’re talking about able-bodied men who study Torah and Talmud all day and we subsidize them,” Sliwa said in the Oct. 25, 2018 videotaped meeting in the Hudson Valley where he spoke for more than an hour.
“And then all they do is make babies like there’s no tomorrow and who’s subsidizing that? We are.
“We allow this fraud to perpetuate,” said Sliwa, who called the ultra-Orthodox sects “the worst when it comes to siphoning off social services — the absolute worst.”
He ranted about “the bloc” for more than 20 minutes.
“So are we the shmucks and putzes? Yes,” Sliwa said.
He said delivering the bloc vote in exchange for political favors from elected officials smacked of “Tammany Hall’ corruption.
“They don’t vote the way normal Americans vote … They’re being told by the rebbe or rabbi this is who you vote for,” Sliwa said.
He said the alleged ordering of people to vote a certain way was “oppression” akin to “something that would be done in Iran or Saudi Arabia. There’s no freedom of speech. There’s no freedom of thoughts.”
Sliwa went on to accuse the Satmar sect leadership of treating their people like indentured servants and serfs.”
He also spoke about political contributions from Orthodox donors.
“The politicians are rolling over [for] them. Why?… Because they contribute, the big machers who write the checks and the checks don’t bounce,” he said.
Sliwa spent much of his time in the speech criticizing New York’s elected officials — including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio — for allowing the leaders of yeshivas to flout state rules to provide an adequate secular instruction while getting taxpayers dollars for related services.
At the time, Brooklyn state Sen. Simcha Felder, who represents largely ultra-orthodox Borough Park, briefly held up the state budget over the policy dispute concerning instruction in Jewish schools.
“Do you take the government money? Oh, yeah. Do we pay for your busing? Oh, yeah. Do we pay for your children who are in special education?. Oh, yeah,” the Guardian Angels founder said.
“So you take all the government money from our taxpayers and then you’re going to flip us the bird and tell us you’re not going to follow the rules?”
He also accused orthodox leaders in suburban communities of running in local school board elections even when though their kids don’t go to public school.
“If somebody comes in and tries to take over your community lock, stock, and barrel, and break all the rules and expect the tax dollars to go to their community, and they’re taking away from you, and their kids aren’t even being serviced in the public schools, but they want all the money in the public schools to go to the yeshivas, then you got to righteously stand up and say, `no, it ends right here,’” Sliwa said.
“The moment you bring this to somebody’s attention, you’re called an antisemite,” he said. “You’re not antisemites, you’re trying to preserve your community.”
The video of Sliwa’s criticism spread like wildfire in the Jewish media this week, including a report in the Times of Israel.
Agudath Israel of America, which advocates for orthodox Jews, issued a statement expressing outrage at Sliwa’s “rant against Hassidic Jews” that it said inflames Jewish hatred.
“Our outrage is accompanied by great surprise, considering how Mr. Sliwa and the Guardian Angels group he founded have shown great concern for the safety of Jews,” the statement said.
“Aside from the misleading nature of Mr. Sliwa’s accusations, with violent attacks on Jews, like those in Monsey, Pittsburgh and Jersey City, still in recent memory, words like his only add fuel to the fire of Jew-hatred,” the group said.
Agudath Israel noted that in the video Sliwa said his two sons are being raised as Jews, to deflect anticipated attacks that his criticism smacks of anti-semitisim.
“A repudiation of the offensive and fallacious words, and an apology – a sincere one – are in order,” the group said.
The statement said Sliwa should know that “when one parrots the traditional canards used by antisemites one is reasonably suspected of being among them.”
Asked for comment by The Post, Sliwa sent a video response, saying he would reach out to ultra-Orthodox leaders to hash out their differences, but not apologizing for what he said in 2018.
He made it a point to say that he and the Guardian Angels have patrolled Jewish areas for decades when the community was under attack, including to “protect the Lubavitchers” for “30 days, 30 nights” after the Crown Heights riots in 1991.
But he also stood by much of his criticisms, saying there are “real differences” concerning secular instruction at yeshivas.
He also claimed that the leaders of the community have met with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the leading Democratic vote-getter in the race for mayor so far, despite his associations with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made anti-semitic statements.
“I’ve been your friend, I’ve been there — always,” Sliwa said.
“But please don’t call me an antisemite….C’mon. Even my worst critics out there would recognize that is a `shanda’ [shameful].”