OJPAC and Over-Development: Pave Paradise and Put Up a….. Building – Or Be Labeled an anti-Semite.

Dear LM,

Please post this opinion piece.

Anonymous

OJPAC slams Orange County Community Preservation Act: Taking the Anti-Semitism Moniker Too Far in Regards to Environmental Protection/Preservation!

In February 2020, I came across an article in an Orange County, NJ newspaper, The Record Online titled “Orthodox Jewish group slams assembly bill aimed at land preservation”. Many regions like Orange County (and Central and Southern NJ as well) are seeing overdevelopment, diminishing open space, and reduction in agricultural lands.  This is lowering the quality of life as well as the character of their towns.  By preserving open space and farmland, the beauty of the land and opportunities for a strong recreation and park systems can be possible. This is for current and future generations to enjoy.  I do not know how any municipal or county government would develop a land conservation program to discriminate and prevent the growth of any community into that area!

However in their usual style when they do not get what they want, another Orthodox Jewish advocacy group is claiming that this bill is discriminating against the growth of their community in Orange County where there is anti-Hasidic sentiment.  In the article, Yossi Gestetner of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council says the proposed law “targets Jews” and a tweet posted by OJPAC stated “The bill is a direct result of local agitation in Orange County against Hasidim who buy properties”.  I rolled my eyes and thought, “there they go again!”

I cannot get over how the Orthodox leadership and Orthodox Jewish advocacy groups could care less about the long term environmental consequence in demanding their right to have uncontrolled high density housing. Do they not realize that natural resources, which include land and water, are limited and their supply will eventually dry out? What about the quality of life for OJ people who live in urban-like “shtetls “such as Lakewood, Kiryas Joel, Monsey? I am sure these individuals and their families feel suffocated in these enclaves though the majority will not say anything for fear of retribution. One can see Orthodox Jews in huge numbers frequent parks and beaches all over the Jersey Shore. They most likely need to get away from the nightmare that is Lakewood (concrete, traffic, no space) and breathe! And yet their leaders want to minimize open spaces and force compliance upon non-Orthodox and non-Jews in the process.

It was extremely disrespectful, unreasonable and inappropriate to label this bill as “anti-Hasidic growth”. These municipalities and counties are looking at the long term quality of life for ALL people to enjoy the beauty of nature by having open space and a robust parks and recreating system. My feedback to Mr. Gestetner and OJPAC: in this case you have taken labeling land preservation too far by calling it “anti-Hasidic growth”.

All of us, including your community, have the right to enjoy nature. There is nothing “anti-Semitic” about that!

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