A five-minute YouTube video has caused a great deal of controversy this week, after a haredi Jewish group in Rockland County, NY, compared Rockland County officials to Nazis.
The video - produced by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) - primarily attacks a campaign entitled "Block the Block Vote" - a campaign calling to lessen the influence of haredi Jewish voters in Rockland and blaming them for the county's financial crisis.
The page claims that the campaign is not anti-Semitic, but instead fighting the "takeover" of Jewish interests in Rockland county to the detriment of the community at large.
According to the campaign's organizers:
"Block The Block" is a political effort, an effort to end the current financial abuse of the Rockland county Community at large by the Orthodox and Hasidic Communities.
Fairness is not anti Semitic. This writer is not attempting to offend and persons , but the current superficial "civility" in Rockland Politics has been masking a barbarity in financial abuse.
...If people do not respect you, and feel you and your money exist only for their benefit, I have little patience for their superficial, and false , good manners. In other words, to fix the issue of the community at large being financially abused, some feelings may end up being hurt.
This effort is in no way anti Semitic , and in fact, the Orthodox and Hasidic Communities collective behaviors are creating an increase in anti Semitic views, and creating a many misunderstandings among the less informed , as to what is , and what is not , the behavior of "Jewish" persons.
...Any effort by the community at large at eliminating the financial abuse by the orthodox and Hasidic community will , with 100% certainty , result in the "anti Semitic" label being used as a weapon.
...The other danger is the orthodox and Hasidic community, and the services they need, continue to increase exponentially.
The community at large continues to slowly increase...while their wages do not increase...the Orthodox and Hasidic communities have 10, 15 or even 20 children, often on multiple taxpayer funded programs, programs that many of the people paying for these programs are not even aware of.
...This counties current financial catastrophe , although blamed on the recent recession, county workers, and a small hospital, is in reality entirely caused by the orthodox and Hasidic communities collective financial reliance on county taxpayers.
...One area has remained financially untouched , and 100% fully funded. The entitlements to the Orthodox and Hasidic communities. That community continues to get all the entitlements, no cuts, and no hardship.
OJPAC counters that these claims, along with several posters on the "Block the Block Vote" page, are anti-Semitic, in that they specifically target Jews for ridicule - and, in its inflammatory video, calls Rockland County "Nazi Germany" based on various posts.
OJPAC founder Yossi Gestetner justified the inflammatory video to Lohud News.
"This video alerting and exposing the hateful rhetoric should have been made months if not years ago," Gestetner said. "And I apologize for my community and good people of Rockland for not exposing the hate sooner."
James Foley, the page's creator, disagreed, adding that the real issues the OJPAC video focuses upon are due to extremist commenters, not the campaign itself.
"I'm more annoyed than anyone by some of the things that's been said there because it dilutes my argument and weakens my position," Foley told the news agency. "I don't agree with everything said there."
Several local leaders, including Rockland County executive Ed Day and local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) representative Wilbur Aldridge, stated that the video is unhelpful and further divides relations between the Jewish community and its non-Jewish neighbors.