This ‘Dov’ Does Not Symbolize Peace
Congers Resident & Preserve Rockland Member
Brooklyn politician Dov Hikind is at it again! A few months ago, he traveled from Brooklyn to Rockland County to host a dubious press conference in which he declared that East Ramapo monitor Dennis Walcott had “stabbed” the Hasidic community in the back. Mr. Hikind was voicing his immature displeasure of the fact that Mr. Walcott’s investigation of the East Ramapo School District, ERSD, had determined the ERSD could not function properly without a veto-empowered monitor. Mr. Hikind’s appearance and commentary didn’t go over well with Rocklanders and he was told to go back to Brooklyn by Rockland Democratic Chairwoman, Kristen Stavisky.
Earlier this week, Mr. Hikind released a public statement requesting that New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman come into Rockland in order to investigate the “a horrible epidemic of anti-Semitism throughout Rockland County“. Both Mr. Hikind and Aron Wieder have recently pounced upon a fourteen minute video that was recently shown by a teacher to her students in a Clarkstown South High School Global Studies class. Although the video was produced by an apparently reputable scholastic website, this specific module had presented a theme that was considered to be factually inaccurate and painted an objectionable image of Judaism. In short order, a groundswell of protest and opposition to the video caused the distributor to remove it from their catalog. Additionally, the Clarkstown School District offered an apology to the entire community along with the assurance that the specific educational vendor’s materials would cease to be used in the future.
Commenting Friday on Hikind’s request for an investigation of anti-Semitism in Rockland County, Executive Day basically sent him the same message as Kristen Stavisky had weeks before. He called Hikind’s comments “an outrage” saying: “He doesn’t live in our community; he doesn’t work in our community; he doesn’t represent our community and it’s clear he knows very little about the good people in our community. I suggest Mr. Hikind sell his divisiveness somewhere else. Our residents don’t want it.” In other words, Day told Hikind to go back to Brooklyn.
Democratic Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski issued a statement in which he said: “This press release (by Dov Hikind calling for an investigation of anti-Semitism throughout Rockland County) is outrageous and demeaning to the people of Rockland County; my hometown and the County I have the privilege of representing. A County made up of good people. To call Rockland County a “cesspool of hate,” and to suggest that anti-Semitism is being fostered by communities and governments is unacceptable.
Let’s be clear, the video used by a single teacher in Clarkstown was inappropriate and insensitive and warranted a swift rebuke. This was not part of a district curriculum, nor was it approved by the district; it was unfortunately used by a teacher from an outside education resource site. The school district took immediate action to ensure it was not used again, students were informed of its inappropriateness and apologies were issued. The district took further steps to contact and convince the outside company to remove the video from their library. Most importantly, they met with reputable Rockland Jewish advocacy groups such as the Jewish Federation of Rockland, Rockland Board of Rabbis and the Holocaust Museum and Study Center. They addressed the incident and established a collaborative relationship for the future. All these actions were taken prior to the public reporting of the incident.
This was a disturbing and serious incident; but does not suggest that the Clarkstown School District, or the Town of Clarkstown are “fostering anti-Semitism,” as suggested by Mr. Hikind. Unfortunately, Mr. Hikind isn’t interested in these or any other facts. He also doesn’t seem interested in contacting the wonderful Jewish advocacy groups we have here in Rockland County to understand their point of view. His intentions lie solely in grabbing headlines and lodging accusations against an entire County and its residents.
Let me state this emphatically: Anti-Semitism of any kind has no place in society and we all must unite against it. But I refuse to allow someone who knows nothing about Rockland and who lives in and represents Brooklyn, to make broad, disparaging statements about the people of Rockland County.”
Enter Aron Wieder and Dov Hikind through the metaphorical back door. Both of these politicians have seemingly taken this episode and have decided to use it for their own political purposes. The Hasidic controlled ERSD school board has been getting bombarded with criticism and sanctions over the past few years in for their seemingly lack of compassion or fiscal responsibility to the public school sector children that they are supposedly representing. Of course, over these years, they have always reverted to the excuse that the criticisms are unjust and merely a product of longstanding anti-Semitism. However, the facts on the ground and the litany of investigations that have followed have proved the opposite!
These ‘political birds of a feather’, Wieder and Hikind simply don’t like the fact that the old formerly reliable ploy of feigning anti-Semitism for political purposes has been summarily retired by the mass public. They don’t know why or how this standard staple, which was once a simple and reliable way to discontinue dialogue, no longer grants them the results that they desire. Could it be that the actions of the Hasidic community have proven to be unquestionably harmful to the rest of Rockland at large?
Maybe it is because of their real and understood fear that another form of bloc voting is building up to be something much more superior than the Hasidic voting bloc? The Preserve Rockland movement is piling more and more people onto its train heading towards the station of fairness and equality in local government. Political insiders know that the Preserve Rockland movement is picking up more supporters every day and with every election at which its train stops. In 2013, County Executive candidate Ed Day received 8,684 Preserve Rockland votes – a margin that put him in the winner’s circle. The last election shows that these numbers will continue to rise in the coming years!
This fact is becoming increasingly distressing to Yossi Gestneter who is associated with OJPAC (Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council). On Friday, February 5, 2016 on WRCR Gestetner, a producer of the outrageous video ‘The Jew in Rockland‘, made the following comments:
“Ed Day, the County Executive, wonders why people need to make a storm? It is for this very reason. People knew about the video for more than ten days. Ed Day, who is on Facebook all day, has not said anything about it until only yesterday and even yesterday he could not even bring himself to condemn the video or the showing.”
“I saw a post yesterday from Ken Zebrowski who is also from Clarkstown and he went crazy saying that Dov Hikind says the county is a ‘cesspool of hate’. Now, few people in New York City get insulted when you tell them that the city is rat-infested. You know why? Because most people know they are not involved with this; it is not their fault that the city is run over with rats. But the reason why Ken Zebrowski and Ed Day suddenly are out with statements and comments within hours after Hikind said something – within hours after the media was onto this – was because they know that they do have a hand in promoting bigotry against the orthodox community.”
“Ed Day, on his Facebook page this week, put up a post about the issue of homelessness in Rockland County and someone wrote on his page that the ‘scum cult’ saps the county and they are the reason why homeless people are not taken care of. Ed Day, after being made aware of this shocking comment on his page – rather than condemning this comment or distancing himself from people saying the ‘scum cult’ – rather than distancing himself from the comment that the orthodox are sapping the community – he actually produced a misleading statistic to back up the accusation that the financial problems arising in Rockland County are somehow the fault of the orthodox Jewish community.”
“This is the reason why when we produced the video a year ago called ‘The Jew In Rockland’ it was not focused on the good people of Rockland County but it was focused on specific actions from specific people. Ed Day has not once condemned the hate that we exposed in the video. Instead, he went haywire and he criticized the video seven times. This is a pattern of Ed Day. He does not rush to criticize when people demean and degrade the orthodox community on his page and other platforms every freakin’ day. But instead, when the Jewish community speaks up a couple of times a year he comes out with his shocked face: ‘How dare you say this on the people of Rockland’? No, Mr. Day, they are not saying this on the people of Rockland, we are saying this on you, they are saying this on the bigoters in your circle. You know who they are! Aron Wieder, the County Legislator from the Monsey area, spoke about it on Tuesday. The video will be released next week.”
We suspect that the name of Gestetner’s new video will not be ‘The Pursuit of Fairness and Equality’ given at the County Legislature last week Legislator Wieder criticized several inviduals and several Facebook pages including reportedly ‘Clarkstown: What They Don’t Want You To Know‘ among others. Gestetner then continued his commentary on WRCR by issuing a veiled threat to the County Executive about “the video to be released next week” saying:
“Ed Day, the days of hiding behind the people of Rockland County and saying that we, when we criticize the hate in Rockland, we criticize all of Rockland, are over. You, Ken Zebrowski, and the other crowds of fools who ran on the ticket of hate in Clarkstown (Preserve/Reform Rockland) will continue to be exposed.”
“Laurie Santulli, the County Legislator from Clarkstown, she had the Chutzpah to say yesterday that the focus on the video was to divert attention from East Ramapo. That this is basically a conspiracy to divert. Let me tell you something. While we in the Jewish community were busy to expose the bigotry that took place in Clarkstown by a few people, not by the rest of the people, we also secured the million dollars in funding for the students in East Ramapo. Because, you know why? Because if you are really a public servant, if you care for the students of East Ramapo, if you care for the peace of the county, you can do two things at once – expose and call out the bigotry that is being orchestrated by Ed Day, Ken Zebrowski and others and care for the students of East Ramapo. It is not a contradiction to do. It’s a Chutzpah for Santulli, who lives in Clarkstown, has not released a statement about the (school) video in ten days. Although to her credit she did speak out on some small Facebook group but under a private name- no one knew about it – she has the Chutzpah to suggest it is a conspiracy to divert …….. (Steve Possell interrupted at this point and went into a short monologue about the uses and abuses of Facebook)
Messrs Gestneter, Wieder and Hikind: You apparently hold the mistaken belief that County Executive Day, Assemblyman Zebrowski, Legislator Santulli and the other “crowds of fools on the ticket of hate in Clarkstown” – which one must assume includes at least three other county legislators, the majority of the Town Board of Clarkstown, and the several thousands of Clarkstown voters who voted for them – are in some way engaged in a mysterious grand cabal of anti-Semitism. The Preserve Rockland voters come from all sides of the political spectrum, are of all age groups, and from people of all faiths. The Preserve Rockland movement will continue to grow mainly because voters are tired of watching the abuses that continue to be inflicted on them and their families at the hands of special-interest individuals and groups! If the three of you don’t like that truth, one has to say to you in all kindness: “That is too bad”. Those of us find it both disgusting and tiresome that you continue to brand people as anti-Semites because your political mojo is suffering catastrophically!
As to Attorney General Schneiderman, we would gladly welcome him to Rockland to commence any investigation into anti-Semitism that he pleases especially if his inquiries include an examination as to why the children attending both public schools and private Yeshivas are not receiving a proper and just education as mandated by NYS Education Law.