New Jersey authorities have decided that pictures posted online by a teenager of herself dressed like Hitler and of a popular Orthodox Jewish gathering spot in Lakewood with the caption “perfect bombing time” were not criminal.
Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, said the pro-Hitler images posted by the Jackson teen and others may have been offensive but were not criminal.
“There was never any danger being posed to the community,” Fave said. “It didn’t rise to anything criminal.”
Avi Schnall, the New Jersey director of Agudath Israel of America, told the Asbury Park Press that he supported the decision not to file charges but he was concerned nonetheless.
“We could comfort ourselves and say that these are just immature teenagers fooling around,” said Schnall, who lives in Lakewood, “but when Hitler becomes another costume that teenagers dress up in, and bombing a group of Jews becomes humorous, that tells us something is very wrong with our society.”
In one of the posted images, a number of young Orthodox Jewish families are shown sitting outside an Italian ice shop on West County Line Road in Jackson. The caption reads: “perfect bombing time.”
One online posting read, “I really wanna drive around Lakewood and run over every Jew with my car.” In another, a girl poses with a doll outfitted with a swastika and a small mustache. Its caption was: “Adolfa hitler supporting her daddy.”
The girl is the daughter of a New Jersey state police sergeant. Della Fave says the teenager wasn’t given special treatment because of her connection to law enforcement.
Bernard Bell, a professor at Rutgers School of Law who specializes in First Amendment issues, said that had prosecutors filed charges, they likely would have faced a credible freedom of speech defense.
“Is this a true threat, or abhorrent speech?” Bell asked. “Would real terrorists speak out this way online? It’s almost a caricature of anti-Semitism.”