Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Rockland County Republican Party has come under fire for a social media post that is being denounced as anti-Semitic.
The county's GOP posted comments on its official Facebook page Sunday that lambasted the Rockland Democratic Committee for posting support for Women's March on Washington and "in all of the liberal cities of our country" against the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
In the post, which has since been removed, the Rockland GOP wrote that it was in favor of "other's right to speak their mind and peacefully demonstrate their views." It criticized the county Democratic Committee for not calling out "the most egregious example of women's oppression in our entire country."
Here is an excerpt from the post, which was circulated by the Jewish Council:
The ultra orthodox Hasidic community's abusive treatment of women is epic. In that community, women must separate themselves from men, must dress as they are told, are forced into arranged marriages, can not divorce without the approval of their husbands and community leaders, they are not properly educated, can't attend college, and can not use birth control, yet, the Rockland County Democratic Committee says nothing: absolute silence. Why? Because the people in that community vote in a block and the leaders of the Rockland Democratic Party want their votes. Please!!!!! Total hypocrisy!!!!
The Jewish Council of Rockland County condemned the post.
Rabbi Moshe Schwab, speaking on behalf of the Jewish Council, demanded an immediate apology for the "ugly anti-Semitic post" and called on local officials to denounce it.
"At a time when tensions between communities are high and Jewish facilities and communities across the state are being targeted, the Rockland County Republican Party used its official Facebook page to launch a viciously anti-Semitic tirade against against the Orthodox community," Schwab said in a released statement.
Lawrence Garvey, chairman of the GOP committee who wrote the Facebook message, said "the post speaks for itself."
"The point of post was to highlight the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party here in Rockland, who rightfully champion the rights of women nationally and ignore what goes on here in Rockland County," Garvey said.
The county GOP leader said he stands by the post, and said the comments were not factually inaccurate.
Garvey said the post was later taken down because "it ran its course."
"We made our point and moved on," Garvey added.
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, chairwoman of the Rockland Democratic Committee, said in an email that the county GOP posted a "racist and anti-Semitic rant meant to further divide our community and exacerbate hatred and fear" instead of supporting the millions of women and men who took part in the rallies.
Stavisky said the post "contained falsehoods," "divisive rhetoric" and "blatant lies."
Evan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League's New York regional director, said the social media comments were "deeply troubling."
The ADL reached out to Garvey and the county GOP about the Facebook post and applauded the party's decision to delete it, Bernstein said.
"People that are public figures have to do a better job across the board to understand that these words have a deep impact," Bernstein said. "The fact that Lawrence Garvey and the Rockland GOP were willing to take it down, they should be commended for that. They understood that it wasn't going to be helpful and it was taken down."
Kalman Weber, a registered Republican from Monsey and member of the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities, said "women are respected and looked up to."
Weber said there are no forced marriages in the community although dates and meetings are typically pre-arranged. While women need the approval of their husbands for a divorce, men require the approval of their wives as well.
"By men and women, following the dictates of their religion, does not mean they are being abused," Weber said. "They are very happy to follow the dictates of their religion."
Weber also called on Garvey to step down as GOP leader.
"To have this on the official page of one of our two official parties is an outrage," Weber said. "With all the tension in our community, one should look for unity and not fan the flames of hatred."
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, the county's highest-ranking Republican office-holder, said in response to the post: "I encourage respectful dialogue among the many diverse people who live in Rockland."
Concern over the rapidly expanding Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities in Ramapo, whose population growth ranks among the highest rate in the state, has become a flashpoint throughout Rockland.
During the summer, several powerful fireworks exploded outside the homes of two rabbis in New City. Community leaders and officials rallied against the attack, and characterized it as a "hate crime."
Anti-Semitic graffiti was also found spray painted on a Pomona street in November.
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