Lakewood Briefs

Governor Murphy Calls out RUOC and other anti-Semitic On-line Forums

In one of several public comments regarding anti-Semitism made in the wake of shootings in Jersey City, Governor Phil Murphy specifically called out Rise up Ocean County (RUOC) and other social media forums in the Lakewood and Monsey area dedicated to defaming Orthodox Jews.

He said that rising anti-Jewish sentiments were largely the result “of a new era where social media is allowing hatred to spread much more aggressively and quickly.”

He went on to call RUOC and similar groups in Ocean and Rockland counties “gasoline that’s fanning the flames.”

“I shudder to think what the Nazis would have done in the ‘20s and ‘30s if they had access to social media,” said Governor Murphy.

The Governor called on elected officials “to use their bully pulpit, to use that bullhorn, and preach tolerance, preach common ground and respect for others”

In terms of solutions, Governor Murphy suggested that the most effective solutions would come from action from the federal government and the various private sector actors that control social media forums.

“I think the private sector players, the social media hosts, have to be much more aggressive, much more forward-leaning than they have been,” he said.

Earlier this year, New Jersey’s Attorney General sent a letter to social media warning them that much of RUOC’s rhetoric borders on incitement, but no other public action regarding the forum or other similar ones has been undertaken by the Murphy administration.

Clip of Jackson’s Mayor Admitting Targeted Zoning Laws Revealed

A short audio clip in which Jackson’s mayor Michael Reina admits that efforts to block houses of worship through zoning laws is targeted at the Jewish community is unlikely to bode well for the township’s ongoing court battles.

In the recording, the mayor is asked by former Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore regarding the town council’s actions regarding Jewish institutions, “if these were churches, would we be fighting them?” Mayor Reina answer’s “absolutely not.”

The clip which only runs several seconds, and was circulated on several on-line forums last week gives no context to the conversation. A source familiar with the situation told Hamodia that the public version of the recording was intentionally left short to protect the identity of the one who procured the clip.

Jackson is presently engaged in litigation against the Agudath Israel of America to defend zoning laws that created a de facto ban on eruvin and the construction of new schools and dormitories, widely seen as intended to discourage the Orthodox community’s growth in the town.

A trove of many emails obtained through FOIL requests have been made public that seem to demonstrate a clear effort by multiple township officials to use zoning laws as a way to target Orthodox Jewish life in Jackson. The recently released clip is likely to be yet another piece of evidence that the Agudah’s attorneys will use to prove the biased intentions behind recently passed land use laws.

GOP Leaders Condemn Jackson Party Chair’s anti-Semitic Comments

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, New Jersey GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt and New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer issued a joint statement condemning anti-Semitism in response to comments by the leader of the party’s Jackson Township chapter.

“We condemn hateful rhetoric in the strongest possible terms. There is no place for anti-Semitism in our party,” read the statement.

Several weeks ago the revelation of a social media comment by Carly Glory, Jackson’s GOP chairwoman drew controversy. In the post, Mrs. Glory wrote regarding an accusations of financial wrongdoing by a member of the Orthodox community, “facts are facts. This is exactly what Jackson residents fear and, yes, it is already happening.”

Despite the clear condemnation from both the leaders of the state and national Republican parties, Frank Hollman, chairman of the Ocean County GOP has made no comment on the matter.

Ocean County Congressmen on Same Side on Tax Vote and Opposites on Impeachment

Republican Rep. Chris Smith and Democrat Rep. Andy Kim who together represent the northern and southern half of Ocean County (along with parts of Monmouth and Burlington respectively) voted to repeal a measure that capped deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). However, each followed their respective party lines on last week’s impeachment vote.

One of many changes included in Congress’ 2017 tax overhaul was the cap on SALT deductions which was highly unpopular in high tax states such as New Jersey. Rep. Kim’s narrow victory in 2018 was due in no small part to his opponent, former Congressman Tom MacArthur’s support of the measure. Rep. Smith was one of several New York and New Jersey Republicans who broke party lines and opposed the law saying the cap was a net loss for his constituents.

Now both have supported a repeal measure which narrowly passed the House-opposed by most Republicans and some “progressive” Democrats, the latter of whom argued that the bill unfairly benefits the wealthy. The bill sent a message of disapproval for the SALT change, but is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate and the President has voiced his opposition to it.

Still, on impeachment, which was unanimously opposed by House Republicans and nearly unanimously supported by Democrats, each stuck to their respective party lines.

Rep. Smith, said that the charges against President Trump regarding his alleged solicitation of an investigation of the Bidens by the Ukrainian government failed to meet the bar of impeachable offenses.

“Undoing the will of the people expressed in a free and fair election with the proposed articles of impeachment, totally fails to meet the legal standard prescribed by the U. S. Constitution. Despite hearings and a process that were egregiously flawed and unfair, there is still no direct evidence whatsoever of any crime,” he said.

Rep. Smith has said little about impeachment to this point and in general avoids expressing his views on President Trump. Most constitutional scholars agree that a president need not commit a “crime” to be worthy of being impeached. In 1998, he voted in favor of articles of impeachment against then President Bill Clinton.

Echoing several others in the Democratic caucus, Rep. Kim framed his vote for articles of impeachment as part of his duty to the nation.

“As someone who swore an oath to the Constitution three times in my life, I will stand up to those that abuse the power entrusted to them by the people regardless if they are Democrats or Republicans,” he said.

For Rep. Kim, the decision to support impeachment was not a simple one politically. The first term congressman occupies a seat that has generally been won by Republicans. The district straddles the GOP stronghold of Ocean County and Burlington County, which has a large Democratic constituency in the densely populated Philadelphia suburbs it contains. His statement contained an attempt to bridge both voter bases.

“I understand some of you will not agree with my decision,” he said. “I give you my sincere word that I made this decision myself with no consideration about party affiliation, and I am fully committed to continuing to bridge across partisanship and get real things done for our community to lower health care and prescription drug costs, support our military and our veterans, create jobs, and prioritize the needs of your families.”