Protesters rallying against vaccine mandates displayed a swastika and yellow Star of David on Sunday outside the office of New York state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish.
The crowd gathered in the Bronx to protest a bill sponsored by Dinowitz, a Democrat, that requires that children be immunized against Covid-19 to attend school. The rally was organized by Rob Astorino, a Republican candidate for governor.
Dinowitz slammed the display of the symbols as "repugnant and offensive."
“I am disgusted and offended by the anti-Semitic imagery that was brought to my office by apparent supporters of Rob Astorino’s failing gubernatorial campaign," Dinowitz said in a statement Sunday. "People are free to express their opinions on vaccine policy and on any issue, but I draw the line at swastikas."
"… [T]o stand next to swastikas and yellow Stars of David outside of a Jewish legislator’s office shows a lack of integrity at best and an embrace of right-wing extremism at worst. This is not who New York needs as Governor," he added.
Dinowitz called on Astorino to "condemn in the strongest terms" the antisemitic symbols he gave a platform to.
Dinowitz doubled down on his legislation to add Covid vaccines to the list of required vaccinations to attend school in the state, stating, "I refuse to be cowed by anti-Semites or anti-science extremists."
"Vaccine requirements have a demonstrably positive impact on vaccination rates, and vaccination rates have a demonstrably positive impact on reducing fatalities and hospitalizations from preventable diseases," he said.
Astorino, a former two-term Westchester County executive, spoke out Monday against the woman who carried the sign with the swastika that compared the vaccine requirement to Nazi Germany.
“Not only didn’t I see the sign, woman holding it had a different sign when I met her prior to the event. Regardless of who the woman was or why she was there, if I saw the sign I would have stopped and had it removed. Absolutely inappropriate,” he said on Twitter.
Astorino's office did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for further comment.
The jarring symbols led to an outcry among New York politicians.
"These blatant displays of antisemitic hate are disgusting, and I stand with @JeffreyDinowitz in rejecting this shameful, unacceptable behavior to the Jewish community," New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Monday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat reportedly considering a run for governor, slammed the symbols as "an insult to our Jewish community, especially our Holocaust survivors who have endured real pain."
Dinowitz has championed vaccine mandates in the past.
He co-sponsored a bill in 2019, signed into law, that banned religious exemptions for vaccine requirements in schools following a measles outbreak that affected many Orthodox Jewish communities in New York.
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