Some observant Jews in New York might be starting their new year not just with apples dipped in honey, but a party mailer implying that Cynthia Nixon was complicit in anti-Semitism.
The New York State Democratic Committee sent out a mailer contrasting Democratic gubernatorial candidates over the weekend, describing Nixon as “silent” on anti-Semitism and casting Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a champion for the Jewish community – just days before Thursday’s primary election.
The committee walked back on the mailer after receiving criticism, however, while Cuomo denied any involvement.
“The state Party sent out a wrong and inappropriate mailer – we will work with the Nixon campaign to send out a mailing of their choosing to the same universe of people,” Geoff Berman, the executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, posted on Twitter.
It is unclear how this can be done before the Thursday primary.
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Cuomo campaign, wrote on Twitter that Cuomo had no knowledge of the mailer and did not approve it.
“He disagrees with the language in it, believes it is inappropriate, and urges voters to focus on the real issues in this race,” Smith wrote.
Cuomo also denied knowledge of the letter at a news conference on Sunday, calling it both “inappropriate” and a “mistake.”
The mailer, calling Nixon “inexperienced,” said she is against funding yeshivas, or Jewish schools, supports the boycott, divestment, sanction movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestine, and has been “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”
In contrast, the mailer says Cuomo has provided over $200 million to yeshivas and is protecting them, signed an executive order against BDS, and that he is standing against anti-Semitism.
“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won’t stand strong for our Jewish communities,” the mailer says.
Nixon, who is not Jewish but is raising her two oldest children as Jewish and attends Manhattan’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, blasted the mailer and accused Cuomo of being responsible.
“The mailers that Governor Cuomo and the NY State Democratic Party have sent out are not only an attack on my family, but all New Yorkers,” Nixon wrote on Twitter. “At a time when anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other hate crimes are on the rise, it’s sickening to exploit people’s real fears like this.”
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and her wife, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said on Facebook they were “used to rough and tumble political advertising,” but that the mailer “was beyond the pale.”
“For many reasons, we have both maintained our neutrality in the primary between Governor Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon. We know them both well, and Sharon is Cynthia’s Rabbi,” Weingarten posted in a joint statement. “Cynthia is no anti Semite. It’s a baseless lie.”
The statement also said that Democrats are not the party of “divisive and baseless smears” and later added that it is “good” that the governor and the Democratic Party denounced the mailer.