Recent reports have highlighted a rise in antisemitic incidents following the coronavirus outbreak. A report by the Strategic Affairs Ministry even mentioned that the global crisis was providing “fertile ground” for antisemitism.
Earlier this week, a Hassidic Jewish man was refused a scheduled appointment at Johnstons Toyota in New Hampton, NY, and was told to leave based on the allegation that he was spreading the coronavirus, Yeshiva World News reported.
"I just want to understand, why all the other guys can have service and you don’t want to accept me?," asked the Jewish man, as can be heard in a video the man filmed.
"You’re spreading the virus, you gotta go," answered the Johnstons employee.
Some organizations have reacted to the incident, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), calling the video "deeply troubling" and saying that "We cannot allow fears about #Covid19 to spark bigotry."
This video is deeply troubling; we are reaching out to learn more. We cannot allow fears about #Covid19 to spark bigotry. This virus does not #discriminate & neither should we. We must work together & heed medical advice to defeat this challenge. https://t.co/NTUrbhur9n— ADL New York / New Jersey (@ADL_NYNJ) March 23, 2020
"This likely is the first in-person video we’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other incidents we have not been flagged about," Evan Bernstein, vice president for ADL’s Northeast Division told Haaretz.
On Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler announced his office was conducting an inquiry into the incident.
In the statement, Hoovler said he spoke to the owner of the dealership, who said that "the dealership had not instructed their employees to refuse service to members of the Orthodox Jewish community and has since taken remedial action against the employees who were involved in the incident."
"The dealership acknowledged their obligation to provide service without regard to a customer’s religion," the statement continues.
"No business can withhold service from any person on account of their race, creed, color or national origin, even during this time of emergency," said Hoovler.
"While there may be an understandable fear of contracting the coronavirus, there is never an excuse to violate people’s civil rights due to their race, gender or religion. Every business, essential or not, that does treat people equally is liable for prosecution under New York’s Civil Rights Law. Now, more than ever, New Yorkers should treat each other equally and with respect and, most importantly, follow the law," he added.