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New Facts about Cuomo

Cuomo always had a hostile relationship with facts, with science, with the law

If Andrew Cuomo really was a bigoted xenophobe who despises Orthodox Jews, he sure did a lousy job hiding it.

Sure, Cuomo visited Israel a couple of times. Sure, the former governor allocated $25 million to protect Jewish nonprofits. (The funds were announced, re-announced, again and again, for three years, and never released — until his successor paid it out a month after taking office.) And sure, Cuomo directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate every anti-Semitic attack. (No one I know ever saw them at the scene or interviewing witnesses.)

Sure, some of Andrew Cuomo’s best friends are Jewish.

“Facts,” Cuomo used to say.

And the facts are flooding the zone. The series of interviews conducted by Attorney General Letitia James’s special investigators into Cuomo malfeasance were released last week. From the bizarre to the petty, the bundle of contradictions who led New York until the fall, until his fall, is laid out in raw minutiae.

His perplexing reference to Senator Chuck Schumer as “your rabbi” when talking to prosecutor Joon Kim is one of the odder moments. Kim indeed worked for former US Attorney Preet Bharara, who in turn worked for Schumer, who is Jewish. Was Cuomo insinuating that the Jews are his umglick?

For Jews, the ugliest transcript of the batch was an interview with Dr. Elizabeth Dufort, the former medical director of the state health department’s office of epidemiology.

We knew that Cuomo’s establishing red zones in October 2020 was targeting Orthodox Jews. The zones zigged and zagged, weaving through traffic and across neighborhoods as it rushed to encompass every single Jewish building in Boro Park, Flatbush, Queens, and Monsey, while leaving out as many non-Jewish areas.

The zones shut down businesses, limited shul attendance to ten people per building, and sent kids home from school. This was accompanied by the nastiest anti-Jewish rhetoric that ever blew out of the Second Floor, as the governor’s office in Albany is called.

The community protested. Agudah filed a lawsuit. Pundits with as much knowledge of Boro Park as I have of Baldwin Place swooped in. “Sophisticated” members of the community were not far behind, tsk-tsking at how embarrassed they were that we were making Cuomo disappointed in us. In the end, the lawsuit prevailed at the Supreme Court, and the red zones were history.

It now emerges that the red zones were mapped out by the governor’s office. No “facts and science” there. Dufort, who would have been the person in charge, learned about it through the New York Times. She quit in disgust.

“The zones,” she said in an understatement, “were very complicated. There were metrics that our staff would work on, but it would only be announced that people met the metrics if that came from the [governor’s] chamber. Some areas met the metrics and would be called a zone, and others met the metrics and would not be called a zone.”

Cuomo always had a hostile relationship with facts, with science, with the law. From tweeting out private tax information on President Trump to using state resources for his election campaigns, Cuomo considered the state to be him.

All’s well. But the transcript dump lays out in details — “facts” — how he overstepped his bounds by targeting Jews. The only reparation could be a formal apology by the state and by those who criticized the community at the time.

The facts, as we now know them, demand it.


The Migrant Weapon

Ever since Europe’s 2015 migrant crisis, in which a million migrants, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa, flooded into Germany — sparking a right-wing surge — immigration has become a weapon in the hands of Europe’s foes.


Turkey has been able to extract concessions from the European Union, who worry that the Erdogan government could release further waves of immigrants.

The weaponizing of immigration sparked headlines in two very different European countries last week.


As thousands of migrants faced off with Polish soldiers at the border with Belarus, Warsaw accused Belarus’s dictator Alexander Lukashenko of attempting to punish Europe for levying sanctions over Lukashenko’s recent crackdown on human rights protesters.


Last week, a record 1,185 migrants crossed the English Channel from France illegally, despite the Anglo-French agreement in place to prevent the crossings. Amid the current standoff between the Johnson and Macron governments over the Brexit agreements, British sources accused the French of wielding the immigration weapon to pressure the UK.

So while it’s clear that Europe will never accept such numbers again, immigration remains Europe’s Achilles heel, and a powerful tool for geopolitical maneuvering.



The shekel-to-dollar exchange rate in Israel — the lowest since 1996 — is a major headache for Israeli exporters struggling to stay competitive with foreign companies, and a dilemma for the Bank of Israel as well. At the beginning of the year, the bank announced that it would buy $30 billion in order to support the exchange rate. The exchange rate indeed stabilized for a time, but the bank has already exhausted the $30 billion.

At the same time, Israel’s state comptroller criticized the bank’s dollar purchase policy, claiming that the $200 billion held in foreign currency reserves was too high. Since then, the Bank of Israel has continued to purchase dollars only in modest sums of several hundred million, and it is not clear what other tools it holds to prevent the dollar from continuing to depreciate.

—Omri Nahmias

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 886)

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