Jewish Leaders Call For Mask Ban As Antisemitic Protests Escalate In New York City

Jewish leaders in New York City are urging authorities to reinstate an anti-mask law in response to the alarming rise of antisemitic protests, many of which involve participants concealing their identities with masks, according to a report by the New York Post on Wednesday. The law, previously used to combat the Ku Klux Klan, could potentially deter protesters from engaging in unlawful behavior under the guise of anonymity.

The call for action comes in the wake of a disturbing incident on Monday, where masked protesters took over a New York City subway train, demanding that “Zionists” identify themselves and warning them to leave. Earlier that day, at Union Square, protesters with covered faces displayed a banner referencing recent violent events.

Scott Richman, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, advocated for the return of the anti-mask law, stating, “A mask law will make a difference. It effectively tanked the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody wanted their face to be seen.”

New York’s anti-mask law, which had been in place for nearly two centuries, was repealed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the recent surge in antisemitic hate crimes, with a 150% increase in May compared to the same month last year, has prompted calls for its reinstatement. According to NYPD statistics, 173 anti-Jewish hate crimes have been recorded in 2024, compared to 101 for all of 2023.

Mark Treyger, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council, likened the current situation to the Nazi-era and called for comprehensive measures to combat rising antisemitism, stating, “We are experiencing and seeing the Nazi playbook come to life in 2024.”