Edison Council President should resign

NJ Council Pres. Joyce Ship-Freeman posted content offensive to Catholics, Jews and Asian-Americans, then claimed she was hacked. Op-ed.

Rabbi Dr. David Rosenthal ,

Rabbi David Rosenthal
Rabbi David Rosenthal
Rabbi D. R.

"While representing this town with one of New Jersey’s largest Asian communities," wrote NJ.com in an editorial, "at a time when anti-Asian sentiment is dangerously on the rise due to the coronavirus, their council president re-shared this meme on Facebook: 'We don’t eat Chinese food any more okay black people if you with me repost.' "

The editorial continues: "[NJ Council President] Joyce Ship-Freeman promises it had 'nothing at all to do with COVID.' She was simply upset, she told us, after seeing a CNN story about a McDonald’s in China, banning black people."

The editors ask her: "What does this have to do with boycotting every Chinese restaurant owner around here, as small businesses struggle to stay afloat? 'The Asians and everybody, they all around the world and they all go together,' she told us. 'What happens in their country happens here too. That’s how the blacks feel about it.' There’re more, so hear her out: After first conceding that 'Out of frustration, yes, I shared the meme,' and assuring us she’s since deleted the post and apologized, she said: 'I don’t even think I shared it, because somebody’s been hacking my Facebook since January. I just took the blame for it to let it die.' Right. Is she one of the crazies? You decide."

Ship-Freeman post
R.D. R.

The Chinese community seems to have decided. (click here). So has the Jewish community.

The Edison Council, however, has not. They met and refused to condemn her actions. As a rabbi in the community, I am publicizing the letter I wrote the council president.

Madam Council President:

I was troubled to see your Facebook posts which denigrated Catholics, Jews, and Asian-Americans. Initially, you claimed you were hacked. However shortly after this claim, you posted an apology which you quickly removed. In an interview with nj.com, you seemed to admit that you in fact “shared” the offensive posts. Furthermore, this is not the first time you posted controversial material on social media.

As Asian-Americans and Jewish-Americans experience increased violence and hate during this pandemic, I was astounded by your public statement during May 13th’s council meeting lashing out at your victims.

Furthermore, I was shocked that you attempted to stifle Councilman Brescher’s ability to denounce this hate speech at the meeting

It is unconscionable that you refuse to take responsibility for targeting Jews and Asian-Americans during this volatile time. This story has made national headlines (see POLITICO excerpt below) and is an embarrassment to the good people of Edison.

I am heartened that the following leaders and individuals have publicly condemned your statements: Simon Wiesenthal Center, NAACP Metuchen Edison NJ, South Asian American Caucus, NJDSC, Council Vice President Sam Joshi, Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex), and Senator Vin Gopal.

As a rabbi, it is my duty to add my name to the above list to denounce what appears racism and anti-Semitism. Madam Council President, you have demonstrated bigoted sentiments towards your constituents, attempted to cover up your wrongdoing, and attacked your victims. It is clear that you can no longer serve ALL the people of Edison. I encourage you to do the honorable thing and resign.


Rabbi Dr. David Rosenthal

Here is how Politico:saw it:

NOBODY BELIEVES YOU — “Edison councilwoman denies hate posts on Facebook: I was ‘hacked’,” by NJ 1015’s Erin Vogt: “The Township Council president has been accused of sharing two inflammatory posts on Facebook — one anti-Semitic in nature and another that suggested Chinese people were to blame for the pandemic. In response, Joyce Ship-Freeman said her page was 'hacked' and that she is being attacked for 'purely political' reasons. 'I am a proud African American woman who rose above it all and will not let men bully me when they don’t get their way. Shame on them for hating a woman who happens to be African American and a senior citizen,' Ship-Freeman, a Democrat, said Wednesday evening in an email to New Jersey 101.5 News.”

Rabbi David Rosenthal is Co-Director of the Manalapan Jewish Connection https://jewishmanalapan.blogspot.com/ (908) 692-9733