(JTA) – A Facebook campaign ad from an upstate New York county’s Republican Party has been slammed as antisemitic and “deeply disturbing.”
Titled “A storm is brewing in Rockland,” the video takes aim at the large and growing Hasidic Jewish community in the county, the specter of “overdevelopment” and a proposed yeshiva campus. The video, which appears to have since been removed, features menacing music, the slogan “If They Win, We Lose” and a warning that “they” will “change our way of life.” “Aron Wieder and his Ramapo bloc are plotting a takeover,” the video intones, referring to a Hasidic legislator representing a Rockland County town with a large Orthodox population. The ad warns that “chaotic development” and redistricting threaten “our” home, schools, families – and water.
“To clearly state that members of the Jewish community are a threat to families and our safety and that they must be stopped is despicable and completely unacceptable. Attacking those who are different than we are only breeds hate and makes us weaker. We must all stand together to denounce this hateful video,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
The Republican Party chairman in Rockland County, Lawrence Garvey, defended the video in a Facebook post on the party’s page. “Anyone who dares speak up about overdevelopment, corruption, or education is immediately labeled as antisemitic without any concern for facts or without any idea of the true issues at hand,” he wrote.
The Republican Jewish Coalition in a tweet called the video “absolutely despicable” and “pure antisemitism.” “The Rockland County Republican Party is an embarrassment and has no place associating itself with our party,” the RJC said. ADL’s New York/New Jersey office said the “images and language of the video strongly suggest an appeal to anti-religious bigotry, which has no place in our elections.”
Rockland County, which is estimated to be more than one-third Orthodox and includes the Hasidic village of New Square and the Orthodox community of Monsey, has seen intense infighting between the burgeoning Orthodox population and local opponents over development, public school budgets and zoning.