Letter to Editor of Rockland Voice
From County Legislator Lon Hofstein
While viewing the video ‘The Jew In Rockland’ one word kept popping into my mind over and over again. The word was “shanda,” which is a Yiddish word for shame. I found everything about the video to be shameful and I hope that anyone else that happens to watch this misguided video feels the same way about it. While the producers hoped their video would cast shame on the good citizens of Rockland, it is the producers themselves that should be ashamed for trying to portray Rockland County as a place of bigotry and intolerance when nothing could be further from the truth.
The opening of this video consists of an attack on a FaceBook page that goes by the name ‘Block the Block Vote’. I have visited this page and have found, at times, there are comments posted that I find offensive. I also noted that there is a footnote at the bottom of each post that states any anti-Semitic commenters will be banned from the page. This comes across to me as evidence that the owners of this page do not condone anti-Semitism.
Voting “as a bloc” is a term used to describe a group of voters that are strongly motivated by specific common concerns that they deem important to the welfare of the entire group. These concerns, which could be limited to one single issue, tend to dominate their political philosophy, causing them to vote the same way in large numbers in elections.
As Americans, we all value our rights to freedom of speech, free enterprise and the right to practice religion as we choose. The producer of this video has the same right to free speech as the author of the “Block the Block Vote” facebook page. Whether or not any individual is offended by the content is a different issue.
The video then proceeds to make an analogy of life as a Jew living in Rockland to that of the life of a Jew living in Nazi Germany. This is an egregious insult to the people of Rockland. The portrayal of the Holocaust as a comparison to life as a Jew in Rockland County is an insult to our intelligence. As a man of the Jewish faith whose great grandparents were victims of the Holocaust, I was ashamed that the producers of this video, as fellow members of the Jewish faith, would insult the memory of our ancestors in such a deceitful and dishonest fashion.
I believe the intention of this video was to provoke division in our community for the political gain of the producers, yet all it achieved was to create disappointment and anger in many members of our community, myself included. However, that anger is directed at the makers of the video themselves and not at any ethnic group or religion the producers might mistakenly believe they represent.
It is very easy to hide behind the anonymous nature of social media. It is easy to forget the damage that can be done when something like this goes viral. I encourage everyone to express their beliefs, but to base those expressions on facts. Producing a video that portrays our great county in a terrible light, in no way based upon factual reality, to promote political rhetoric does nothing but cause harm and division. Thankfully, the vast majority of people in Rockland County are more interested in working together to solve our collective problems than they are in creating division, fear and mistrust to advance their own agendas. I believe that anyone who knows anything about Rockland County will agree.
We should thank GOD we live in a GREAT COUNTRY AND A GREAT COUNTY!!!