Harold “Heshy” Tischler, a New York City council candidate and local radio host, is a racist and a misogynist.
He was taken into custody last weekend by New York City police and arraigned Monday with inciting to riot, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment in connection to an alleged assault on Jewish Insider journalist Jacob Kornbluh in Brooklyn on 7 October. Tischler and supporters waving Trump flags have protested in recent days against COVID-19 restrictions that Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, has announced for areas seeing an increase in COVID-19.
Tischler has a history of anti-Palestinian racism and incitement.
Last year, he attended a counter-demonstration in support of New York City Councilman Kelman Yeger, a Democrat, who sparked protests for claiming, “Palestine does not exist.” Tischler, a repeatedly bigoted provocateur, spoke to a Palestinian mother about her daughter, asking, “She doesn’t have any bombs on her to blow us up, do you?”
At that time, even Dov Hikind, for all his connections to the violently anti-Palestinian Jewish Defense League, denounced Tischler’s role at the counter-demonstration. Hikind asserted that Tischler had said “terrible things” but, in the paraphrasing of The New York Times, “did not represent the majority of counterprotesters.”
“You are my soldiers”
Eighteen months later, Tischler is referring to fellow Borough Park demonstrators against COVID-19 restrictions as his soldiers. “You are my soldiers! We are at war!” he has said.
He fancies himself to be a leader, but is in fact playing a dangerous game of chicken with COVID-19 and with the health of people in his community.
Tischler allegedly egged on his supporters to assault Kornbluh. He also made a video from a cemetery attacking Kornbluh as “a rat and a kapo and a moyser” shortly before the assault.
Moyser is a Yiddish term meaning a snitch against one’s own community; a kapo was a Nazi concentration camp prisoner provided privileges in exchange for overseeing other prisoners, often brutally. Following the Holocaust, these terms are especially powerful and demeaning.
The crowd assailing Kornbluh later the same day derided him as a “Nazi” and a moyser.
Kornbluh has been concerned that Orthodox members of the Jewish community are likely to be sickened or killed by COVID-19 if greater social distancing and masking precautions are not taken.
Tischler, on the other hand, interrupted a news conference about COVID-19 last month to argue that government officials are bringing in “violent, Nazi stormtroopers.”
This sort of uncontrolled rhetoric is a grotesque twisting of reality. Tischler’s insistence on rejecting social distancing and masking is certain to imperil members of the very community he claims to represent.
Where Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio must tread carefully, however, is in making certain that there is not a double standard in which religious gatherings, schools and businesses are unfairly targeted due to COVID-19. If there is anti-Jewish discrimination that must be addressed and rectified.
Tischler’s effort to open playgrounds over the summer surely resonates with many parents and quite probably was safer for children than many indoor activities.
That said, Tischler’s more recent involvement and rhetoric have only complicated matters as the mayor and governor battle over turf. He has attempted to incite de Blasio by referring to his wife, Chirlane McCray, as a “retard woman” and kurva, a Yiddish word for whore.
There is clear racism coursing through Tischler’s comments about McCray, who is a Black woman.
Formerly imprisoned for his role in an immigration fraud involving fake job opportunities, Tischler appears to exclude others in claiming that New York is his city.
President Donald Trump’s efforts to exploit the tensions once again serve as a reminder that he cares less about the lives of constituents than their votes. He is conveying misinformation about COVID-19 and yet is more trusted by a long persecuted group than are local health officials, the mayor and governor.
Perhaps the most surprising development in the midst of the New York City tension was the joint statement from the Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Republican Jewish Coalition “condemning” the attack on Kornbluh.
Both groups, however, remain united in pursuing policies enabling Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Tischler is scheduled back in court on 27 April. He was ordered to stay away from Kornbluh.