A New Jersey mayor, accused of anti-Semitism on Twitter after telling a resident to call the cops on "Hasidic and Orthodox Jews" invading parks and beaches, apologized Wednesday and said it was a big "misinterpretation."
A resident of Brick Township reportedly tweeted: "Can we please do something about our parks and beaches. They are being invaded by the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews and being ruined. Our tax paying residents are being forced out while politicians sit and do nothing."
Mayor John G. Ducey responded on Twitter: "Our parks security has started already. Just call police with any problems and they will send them out."
Yashar Ali, a high-profile freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Huffington Post and New York magazine, shared a screenshot of the tweet and pointed out Ducey "makes no mention of the tweeters anti-Semitic tone."
Ducey told Fox News he was responding in general and not to the anti-Semitic statement as a way "to diffuse the situation."
"The anti-Semitic tweet was very unfortunate. It was very hateful and it never should've been made," Ducey said. "I think people are upset that I responded at all."
He said people told him he should have condemned the statement.
"But I didn't do that because I didn't want to give credence to the hate he was spewing," he said. "A lot of people said I should've ignored the tweet altogether...the third approach, which I did, was to ignore the anti-Semitic statement and respond in a general way if there actually was a problem."
Ducey said park officials would properly handle the situation.
“I did not want to acknowledge the bigotry thereby giving the commenter the power he was seeking,” Ducey tweeted to one critic. “I just tried to diffuse things and focus his anger at me. … I’ve done pretty well for six years but this is a learning experience.”
Brick borders Lakewood, which has surged in population with one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in the world, according to NJ.com.
On Wednesday morning, Ducey wrote: "This twitter feed (and the world in general) is no place for bigotry or hateful comments. They are hurtful and divisive. They are condemned by me and all who are trying to make a difference in the world. Look for the good in you and others and the world will be a bettter place."
The mayor told Fox News he doesn't plan to respond to every tweet going forward.
"If it were to happen again," Ducey said, "I would ignore and move on."