Amber Tamblyn, an actress best known for her roles on the television series’ General Hospital and Joan of Arcadia, has provoked outrage in the Chassidic community with comments that many have seen as unfair generalizations bordering on anti-Semitic.
The controversy began this past Sunday, when Tamblyn tweeted that she had nearly been run over by a Chassidic man in Brooklyn while pushing her child in a stroller.
“If anyone in Brooklyn near the intersection of Washington Ave and Atlantic Ave just saw a hassidic man in a gray van try to hit a woman and her baby in a stroller as she crossed a crosswalk, honking and touching the stroller with the car’s bumper, please DM [direct message] me,” Tamblyn tweeted, according to a Jerusalem Post report. “That woman was me.”
After receiving support and advice from many of her 95,000 followers, Tamblyn went a step further, accusing Chassidic men in general of regularly attempting to harm both herself and other women.
“Thank you everyone for your kind words of support today,” Tamblyn wrote in a follow-up tweet. “We are fine. But this is not the first time a man from the hassidic community in NYC has attempted to harm me or other women I know. Any woman riding a bike through South Williamsburg can attest. I hope this guy is caught.”
The backlash to the comment was swift, with Chabad.org social media manager Mordechai Lightstone criticizing Tamblyn’s remarks as “anti-Semitic BS” and “an incredibly troubling generalization.”
“It’s awful for any pedestrian, let alone a mother, to be threatened by an aggressive driver,” Lightstone wrote. “But bad drivers are bad drivers.”
Tamblyn, in response, doubled down on her opinion, saying the encounter was in keeping with her overall experience with Hasidic men during her 10 years living in NYC. The actress also defended herself against charges of anti-Semitism by pointing out that her husband, actor David Cross, is Jewish.
“LOL. I’m married to a Jew,” Tamblyn tweeted. “Go ahead and twist my words all you want. Your misogyny and sexism reeks from here.”
Some, such as Tablet Magazine editor Yair Rosenberg and Daily Wire writer Elliott Hamilton, noted a double-standard in the relatively muted response to Tamblyn’s comments, compared with the outcry they believe would have erupted had she attacked any other minority.
“I’m pretty sure @ambertamblyn would chastise someone who would copy and paste her own tweet and substituted ‘hassidic’ with ‘Muslim,’ Hamilton observed. “But of course, Jew-hatred is the only form of bigotry that’s acceptable in the progressive world so she won’t be held accountable for that, right?”
“Imagine if we replaced ‘hassidic community’ here with any other ethnic or religious community,” Rosenberg was quoted as writing in Jpost’s report. “Making negative generalizations like this is never OK.”
Tamblyn’s remarks were vociferously condemned by the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn. In a statement, the organization said it “condemns in the strongest terms this biased, anti-Semitic attack on the Hasidic community, and calls on The New York Times to stop publishing commentary from her and other known anti-Semites.”
The statement also concurred with the double-standard charge leveled against Tamblyn by Hamilton and Rosenberg.
“This would have been unacceptable against any other group,” UJO President Rabbi David Niederman noted in the statement. “Unfortunately, too often people feel that such claims can be made against Hasidim and that when attacking the Hasidic religious community anything goes — from discriminating in housing against large Jewish families to attacking our religious educational system.”
Rabbi Niederman believes the incident “has to be thoroughly investigated as an individual case. We call on Ms. Tamblyn to describe the entire incident and we ask the NYPD to thoroughly investigate what transpired at this busy intersection. We further ask for anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward with information, and/or any CCTV or dash-camera footage that they have from the area.”
By: Andrew McTayer