The Puppeteers and the String Masters – Does it Really End with the ERCSD School Board? Likely Not.

What Other Schemes are These Puppeteers Orchestrating and Who is Being Manipulated? Some thoughts…

Dear Reader:

At what point does the activity in the Haredi community of Rockland County, New York and those who control the East Ramapo Central School District cross the line from what is now a civil litigation into the acts, conduct or omissions that engender criminal behavior? And when does that get prosecuted? Perjury is only the beginning.

This question is not being asked because the bad actors involved are Haredi Jews. To the contrary, a response is demanded in spite of a religion which does not espouse to this contemptible behavior.  The Haredi men who have run the school board for the last fifteen or so years, who place non-Haredim on strings to be puppeteered at their will, are not behaving like Jews. They are behaving like liars and criminals. They are engaging in conduct unbecoming the garb that they wear or the religious beliefs to which they claim to adhere.

Because they are Jewish, they are making every Jew look bad. Because they wear the cloak of religious observance, they are giving those people unable to understand the unique nuances of Judaism a reason, founded in behavior, to hate Jews.

Finally, they have perpetrated a fraud. They  have, by way of school bonds,  borrowed money, sold school buildings for pennies on the dollar (to their own Yeshivas). They have defunded a school system, disenfranchised children, and manipulated others acting in good faith to do the same. That is by its very nature criminal and if not, perhaps there are laws that could be deemed to have been broken (like the encumbering of assets to obtain bonds) the violation of which paves the way for criminal prosecution.  

We ask Letisha James to look to this case and to our commentary from your election and use it as a basis to not only rethink your position as a pawn for the aims and goals of the Haredi community, but also to look yourself in the mirror and ask whether you really want to be mastered by a puppeteer.

You are smart. You are a woman. You are a woman of color. Is it not time that you set aside what those who funded your campaign would want in favor of what those within your own community need, namely justice.

We then ask that you take on issues, like lying in court, orchestrating what might otherwise be deemed a fraud on an entire community and so many others and find ways to prosecute the perpetrators.

Harry Grossman May Have Sunk All Credibility In The Operations Of Hasidic Controlled School Board

“All I’m saying is don’t trust the man 100% when you know he’s lying,” U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel told David Butler, an attorney for the East Ramapo Central School District.

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NAACP v. East Ramapo, Remove Religion from the Mix, Still Segregation Problem, New Jersey’s Englewood Example

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The Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly Example – No Right to Segregated Education.

The East Ramapo battle playing out in the courts is, writ small a discrimination case against a board in its nominating practices. The NAACP is claiming that the Board of Education has rigged the system so private school parents have a disproportionately large number of seats on the public school board. Writ large, however, the battle is ultimately one of segregation, allowing a community of white children to obtain significant funding and school budgeting allotments to the detriment of a largely minority public school system. This has played out before. 

The battle of what happens when you remove white children from a largely minority, people of color and Hispanic/Latino school system has played out in many districts, in many fora. The closest comparison between Rockland County, New York is one to a battle that played out for years, from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s just down the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Englewood Cliffs,  New Jersey.

The fact that the white children of Rockland County, New York are ultra-Orthodox is largely irrelevant. The issue is segregation. Is the State of New York prepared to allow a community to be segregated, if not foster that segregation; and is it willing to disenfranchise a public school system of largely minority children to do so? In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Education and the Courts were not:

One need look no further than the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka, [347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954)] to support the ALJ’s reliance upon evidence dealing not only with “material loss,” i.e., reduction in course offering, effect on curriculum, loss of teaching staff, but also an assessment of impact on the psychosocial dimension of education referred to in this case as “symbolic loss.” Notwithstanding the fact that DMHS is not all minority, it is, as previously stated, substantially imbalanced racially; thus, the following passage from the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown has no less bearing in this matter than if DMHS were all minority. It states: Segregation … in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to *445 deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system. …. [T]he Commissioner rejects the Cliffs Board’s arguments that attempt to justify severance because DMHS was an inferior educational facility at the time the petition was filed and should not, therefore, be held harmless from that. It is clear from the record that this case has been heavily immersed in an effort to cast DMHS as an inferior school, not worthy of its students. It is equally clear that the record does not support this position.
As to the Tenafly tuition policy, the Commissioner agreed with the ALJ that while it did not violate the law, it is “clearly contrary to public policy … and cannot be allowed to stand”:
Although the policy is, on its face, not discriminatory and although it was not adopted for improper motives, this does not mean that it should be allowed to stand insofar as the Cliffs and Englewood Boards are concerned, for the record has made it abundantly clear that the effect of the policy has been exactly what the ALJ denounces, namely, to exacerbate racial imbalance at DMHS by skimming off and luring students who are eligible to attend DMHS. Thus, in that sense it is “repugnant” and a “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy as it affects DMHS.

To provide a very oversimplified background, for years, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a largely white and affluent district without its own high school had a sending-receiving relationship with Englewood, New Jersey’s Dwight Morrow High School. Englewood was far more heterogeneous a community with a large majority of the students from families of color, Hispanic/Latino and other ethnic groups. Within a contractual setting, Englewood would receive public school children from the Cliffs with a percentage of the tax money sent to cover the costs per children. Cliffs’ children of high school age who chose to remain in the public school system were bused to Englewood after 8th grade. 

At the time, Alpine, New Jersey’s children were being sent by similar sending/receiving agreement to Tenafly, New Jersey a more homogeneous community with socio-economic ties that had a greater resemblance to Englewood Cliffs’, also mostly white and Asian community. During the early 80’s parents in Englewood Cliffs began, with greater frequency to leave the district before high school, to remove kids to parochial schools or to send them to either Elizabeth Morrow or Dwight Englewood, both private schools. At the time, busing was not provided to private schools; but rather it was arranged within the tuition paid. Busing was, however, provided to public school children who attended Dwight Morrow as part of the public school sending/receiving relationship.

In and around the early 80’s Englewood Cliffs began negotiating a contractual sending/receiving relationship with Tenafly, New Jersey, with the thought that the Cliffs would sever its relationship with Englewood. As a backdrop, Tenafly also began accepting students on a tuition-paid basis to give the Englewood Cliffs’ parents different options.

Englewood fought back, filing a series of actions with the New Jersey Commisioner of Education. All of the actions were based in pertinent part on the resulting reduction in white students, segregation and the detriment to the children of Englewood. To put it simply, Englewood claimed that even though the numbers of Cliffs children who were remaining in public school after the 8th grade were dwindling,  the loss of services to the children of Englewood, the reduction in classes which were at that time very diverse and team sport enrollment outweighed the benefit of the small population wanting only to be more homogeneous. In addition, and particularly relevant, they argued that no one had the “right to segregate” which was effectively what the Cliffs’ parents were doing when sending their kids to Tenafly by tuition. 

The Commissioner stated:

In Booker, the Supreme Court said that “children must learn to respect and live with one another in multi-racial and multi-cultural communities and the earlier they do so the better.” 45 N.J. at 170, 212 *480 A.2d 1. It also declared that the Commissioner has a duty to ensure that such learning occurs in schools that are not de facto segregated and that he must not only eliminate schools that are “entirely or almost entirely Negro,” 45 N.J. at 178, 212 A.2d 1, but must also achieve “the greatest dispersal consistent with sound educational values and procedures.” Id. at 180, 212 A.2d 1. By focusing on Booker’s “multi-racial and multi-cultural” reference instead of the principle of “greatest dispersal”, it seems to us that the State Board recast the expansive holding of Booker as the far more limited holding that achieving some minimal racial and cultural diversity will suffice. In so doing, the State Board eviscerated Booker’s explicit ban on school segregation. If it had taken no further action, we would likely have intervened on this issue, at least to the extent of requiring an explanation of what educational values and procedures the State Board viewed as counter-balancing the need for greatest dispersal. Because of the later developments, it is unnecessary for us to do so.

Even within that backdrop, the State of New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education still dismantled the idea of changing the relationship between Englewood and Englewood Cliffs on the grounds it would only serve to segregate the children and would ultimately come at a high price to Englewood’s children.   

In the early 1990’s the issue again came to light when Englewood decided to close some elementary schools and move 8th grade to the high school. With the Englewood Cliffs Elementary School ending in 8th grade, this created a mismatch. And yet, the Commissioner of Education and the courts were still not moved; and the issue of regionalizing high schools was raised, also not moving the Commissioner.

Cliffs complains that, even if the State Board properly denied its petition for severance, it exceeded its authority in enjoining Tenafly and other non-party school districts from accepting Cliffs’ students on a tuition basis. With respect to Tenafly, Cliffs claims that the State Board’s injunction violated Tenafly’s statutory right to exercise discretion as to which interdistrict students it accepts. It also argues that enjoining the THS tuition program will in no way increase the white student population at DMHS. Cliffs also asserts that the State Board’s injunction denies due process to any school district not joined as a party.
The Commissioner has broad constitutional and legislative powers concerning public education. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-10; Piscataway Tp. Bd. of Educ. v. Burke, supra, 158 N.J. Super. at 441, 386 A.2d 439. These powers must be interpreted sufficiently expansively to correspond with his “high responsibilities” in the education field. Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504, *474 279 A.2d 619. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-16 concomitantly confers on the State Board all necessary powers “requisite to the performance of its duties.” Clearly, under appropriate circumstances, injunctive relief is a power available to the State Board. Bd. of Educ. of Asbury Park v. Bds. of Educ. of Shore Regional High School District, 1971 S.L.D. 221, aff’d, 1971 S.L.D. 228 (1971). Indeed, Cliffs concedes this theoretical power, arguing instead that the injunction was improvidently granted in this case because an injunction, the so-called “strong arm of equity,” is an extraordinary remedy not justified by the facts. Van Name v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 130 N.J. Eq. 433, 442-43, 23 A.2d 261 (Ch. 1941), aff’d, 132 N.J. Eq. 302, 28 A.2d 210 (E. & A. 1942). We disagree.
Here, we have affirmed the State Board’s determination that the Tenafly tuition policy had a serious negative impact on the racial balance at DMHS. As Tenafly’s non-indigenous population increased, the situation at DMHS worsened. Tenafly not only “lured” and “enticed” Cliffs’ students by its “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy, and in doing so syphoned off a disproportionate number of high achievers, but also attracted white and Asian Englewood students. Given those findings, the effectuation of the State’s constitutional policy in favor of racial balance as a function of the quality of education not only authorized but compelled an injunction against Tenafly. See In re Solid Waste Util. Customer Lists, 106 N.J. 508, 516, 524 A.2d 386 (1987). As to the other school districts (none of which has complained), the State Board’s directive was a necessary adjunct to the injunction against Tenafly. Without the directive, the State Board could not ensure total compliance with the educational goals it sought to achieve. Most importantly, the injunction was a critical element of the State Board’s attempt to remedy the problem at DMHS by using the least intrusive means. Given the history of this case, a laissez faire attitude, without an injunction, would have doomed these means to failure.
*475 VIII
While a sending-receiving relationship is essentially an education services-for-tuition exchange made between two districts, that arrangement does not alter the structural integrity of either district. Regionalization, on the other hand, involves the formation of an entirely new school district governed by a separate board of education. See Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504-05, 508, 279 A.2d 619. Regional districts can be formed for all purposes or for limited purposes. N.J.S.A. 18A:13-2. Among the “limited purposes” is the organization of a regional district to operate a high school or high schools only. Englewood has petitioned for the creation of a regional high school district including it, Cliffs and Tenafly. The effect of such a regional district here would be to transfer control over DMHS and THS to a regional school board.
The authority for cross-district regionalization arises out of Jenkins where the Supreme Court expanded on the Booker principle of intra-district regionalization:
It is true that Booker dealt with a community which was wholly contained within a single district fixed by municipal lines whereas here the community involves two districts. …. As the Supreme Court pointed out in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, [575] 84 S. Ct. 1362, [1388] 12 L. Ed. 2d 506, 535 (1964), political subdivisions of the state whether they be “counties, cities or whatever” are not “sovereign entities” and may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate federal constitutional rights and policies. See Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339, 347, 81 S. Ct. 125, 5 L. Ed. 2d 110, 116 (1960); United States v. State of Texas, 321 F. Supp. 1043, 1050-1058 (E.D.Texas 1970); cf. Jackman, et al. v. Bodine, et al., 55 N.J. 371 [262 A.2d 389] (1970). It seems clear to us that, similarly, governmental subdivisions of the state may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate state constitutional rights and policies. This does not entail any general departure from the historic home rule principles and practices in our State in the field of education or elsewhere; but it does entail suitable measures of power in our State authorities for fulfillment of the educational and racial policies embodied in our State Constitution and in its implementing legislation. Surely if those policies and the views firmly expressed by this Court in Booker (45 N.J. 161 [212 A.2d 1]) and now reaffirmed are to be at all meaningful, the State Commissioner must have power to cross district lines to avoid “segregation in fact” (Booker, 45 N.J. at 168 [212 A.2d 1]), at least where, as here, there *476 are no impracticalities and the concern is not with multiple communities but with a single community without visible or factually significant internal boundary separations. [Jenkins, 58 N.J. at 500-01, 279 A.2d 619].

The relevant case Englewood Cliffs v. Englewood, 257 N.J. Super 413 (1992) can be found here.

A report on the the NAACP v. East Ramapo Central School Distrrict, 18-3481 (2d Cir. 2019) can be found here.

A News brief one NAACP v. East Ramapo can be found here.

A 2014 Succoth Celebration – A Delightful Event – a Dead Giveaway on Political Alliances

 

http://www.thefriedlandergroup.com/sukkoth-celebration-2014.14-1315.sub.html

NYC’s Top Elected Officials Grace Sukkoth Celebration

What do

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

NYC Public Advocate Tish James

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson

Assemblyman Dov Hikind

City Councilman Brad Lander

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte

Assemblyman David Weprin
have in common?

They all gathered in the Sukkoh of Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group to wish prominent members of the Jewish community a “Chag Sameach”.

In attendance was also: Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive VP Agudath Israel of America

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive VP, NY Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Steve Burg, East Coast Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Michael Miller, executive VP of the Jewish Community Relations Council who delivered greetings to the assembled.

Tish James and the GOP…. and then There’s Aron Wieder, Ms. James Have You Ever Spoken to Concerned Rocklanders?

AG James, the video may seem disturbing, but perhaps you have not considered what is REALLY Happening in Rockland County. Allying with Aron Wieder is Almost an Oxymoron, and Supporting his Political Allies in Rockland is Degrading the Views of Those Who Have Legitimate Concerns, Whether GOP or Otherwise…

Just an Opinion

Tish James and GOP Video

It should be noted for the reading public that as far as LM is aware, AG James has NEVER come to Rockland County, New York and sat with the secular and non-Jewish community to get their take on events in Rockland County, which is largely a democratic county many of whom are in agreement with the GOP on these points. She has, however, visited with the ultra-Orthodox, as she was campaigning.

AG James has, most likely, not taken a look at the tax registers in Rockland County to see just how many houses in Rockland County are listed as LLC owned with numerous LLC’s registered to the same addresses, some of which are for-profit and some non-for-profit (church (synagogue) based so reduced reporting requirements and reduced taxes) and how much that situation (reduced taxes paid by those homes) is costing taxpayers in Rockland County.

AG James has NEVER taken a moment to consider the battle between those like Aron Wieder who favor religious education absent secular interference but who still demand funds from the State to pay for that education. To his credit Wieder did allegedly work to get his community vaccinated; but most of that community is still comprised of anti-vaxxers costing County taxpayers thousands if not hundreds of thousands in unnecessary healthcare costs, whether related to the measles outbreak or otherwise.

AG James has oversimplified a problem. If she really wants to benefit the communities of Rockland (everyone, not just the Democrats and more particularly the ultra-Orthodox who funded her campaign), which is a melting pot of many religious (including Jews who are not Hasidic), she should focus on the crime and corruption within Rockland.

The crime, corruption, political scandals and fraud are costing Rocklanders hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. The payoffs of housing code reviewers, the use of Medicaid cards to buy food at Costco, the under-the-table payments to women who work in families in cash while also collecting Medicaid and foodstamps is an open secret in Rockland. Costco checkout people laugh about it amongst themselves.

Weighing in on this subject does nothing but give credence to those who are wholly ambivalent to the concerns of the greater Rockland County Community. That video may seem inappropriate and was both poorly contemplated, lacking in decorum and wholly fear-mongering; but it stems for somewhere. It should not be written-off as a deplorable political tactic. It should be understood for a deeper concern amongst Rocklanders. It comes from a very real concern, albeit largely unspoken. To write-it-off without considering the factual truths is to forsake those not depicted in that video and not responsible for its writing and dissemination, the voice of the “others” who have legitimate concerns, whether they funded AG James’ campaign or not. 

Education in New York – Taxpayer Subsidizing Yeshiva Education Without Standards – PEARLS Statement

PEARLS: Statement on New Education Department’s Proposed Regulations

As the New York Department of Education continues to attempt to establish and enforce guidelines for private schools, PEARLS, which advocates for Frum Schools in NY has released the following statement:

The regulations proposed by the State Education Department disregard the concerns expressed by more than 1,000 private schools from every segment of the nonpublic school community.

The proposed regulations disregard the long history of success demonstrated by private schools across New York State, they undermine the choices made by parents who choose private schools for their children, and they substitute the education bureaucracy in Albany for the private school leadership sought by parents and students.

The regulations proposed today are nothing more than a repackaging of the guidelines that were opposed by the entire private school community last Fall and declared null and void by the Albany Supreme Court this Spring. It is disappointing that the State Education Department failed to engage in dialogue with private school leaders prior to issuing these proposed regulations.

We remain willing to work collaboratively with the State Education Department. But we will continue to oppose SED’s attempt to impose top-down mandates on hundreds of thousands of private school children across the State. These proposed regulations will not be any more successful than the failed and rejected guidelines they replaced. We therefore urge SED to work with the private school community in a manner that respects the success, autonomy, history and purpose of private schools.

The recreation of Jewish life and learning in the United States after the destruction of the Holocaust was nothing short of miraculous. In 1944, there were two dozen Jewish schools in New York, with no more than 5000 students. Today, there are 165,000 students enrolled in more than 400 Jewish elementary and high schools in New York. State regulations cannot be allowed to hinder our mission or hamper our growth.

 

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Lakewood, NJ – the financial Pillaging of a Bucolic Little Town’s School District Using the Ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva Handbook

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Lakewood schools to close? Parents told to make ‘alternate plans’

Above: What can be done to improve relations between Orthodox and non-Orthodox communities?

LAKEWOOD — The township’s public schools may close Monday as a result of the financial pressures facing the district, where officials say money will run out before the end of the next school year.

Administrators said on the district website that parents should make “alternate plans” for their children. School leaders called it a “precautionary measure” due to the “unknown fiscal situation.” 

Last week, the Lakewood school board approved a 2019-20 budget that the district doesn’t have the money to fund. Its lawyer and several administrators also went to court Wednesday to plea for help, saying the district cannot afford to keep schools open beyond March.

Special education and transportation account for about 40 percent of the public schools’ expenses. The district enrolls about 6,000 students, but also is responsible for costs of transportation and certain services for Lakewood’s more than 30,000 private school children.

Administrators have sought Trenton’s help in closing the school district’s growing budget holes, using combinations of grants and loans.

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Rockland’s Ed Day, Ramapo’s Michael Speech, and Rabbi Chaim Schabes – Voices of Reason: The Measles and a Misguided Gathering in Monsey.

To the People Who Organized this Travesty of a Gathering, to the Owners of this Hall Who Allowed It, You Should be Paying the Bills for Anyone who Gets Sick!

To our readers:

If a person carrying the HIV virus knowingly has sexual relations with someone without first informing that person of the risks, it is a crime. HIV is spread through blood transfer and the interaction of certain bodily fluids. It is not airborne and is generally not contagious.

However, a family can choose to not vaccinate themselves or their children for measles and can walk into a crowded Costco or onto a cruise ship, infected with the measles and it is not a crime? The measles is highly contagious, is airborne and does not require a live host to pass from one person to another. Why are the actions of this family not viewed as criminal?

Perhaps the difference is what it takes to spread the disease? HIV requires intimate contact, generally speaking and measles only requires that you go out in public. Is that the difference?

A family that chooses not to vaccinate its children, that then infects others should be held fully and completely accountable for the damage to those who become ill. The measles is life threatening. It has financial implications. It has health implications. It is now costing the United States health insurance industry millions of dollars. It is costing public welfare like Medicare and Medicaid in the tens of millions.

In the year 2000, the Measles was virtually eradicated from the United States.

We have moved centuries backwards and Rabbis, attorneys couching their arguments in fundamental freedoms and wayward knuckleheads named Bigtree are preaching the virtues of anti-vaxing and its already debunked theory of a connection between the vaccine and autism.

What about the fundamental rights of the rest of the population to be able to travel out in public and feel safe. What about new mothers with children who are too young for the vaccine? And what about people who are finding that the vaccines from the late 60’s are not protecting them. And finally, what if the virus mutates, a very real possibility.

The priorities here are upside down and it has nothing to do with illegal immigrants!

Rabbi At Anti-Vaccination Symposium Blames ‘Illegals’ For Spreading Disease

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Hundreds of Orthodox Jewish families gathered in a catering hall Monday night in the Rockland County hamlet of Monsey, where they heard anti-vaccine crusaders claim that inoculations are the real health risk, and that measles can help produce growth spurts and prevent everything from cancer to heart disease.

Dr. Larry Palevsky, who runs the Newport Wellness Center in Long Island, a practice that specializes in “holistic pediatric services,” asked onlookers to question whether there was actually a measles outbreak, or if people were actually catching measles from the vaccine itself. Or, perhaps, doctors have been misdiagnosing other illnesses as the measles.

“Is there a bad lot of vaccines?“ Palevsky asked the crowd. “Is it possible that these lots are bad? Is it something other than the unvaccinated children?”

The symposium, hosted by a group calling itself the “United Jewish Community Council,” was advertised through robocalls and fliers sent around WhatsApp groups. Getting wind of the rally, Rockland County officials sent out a desperate message urging people not to attend.

“This type of propaganda endangers the health and safety of children within our community,” County Executive Ed Day, Ramapo Supervisor Michael Speech, and Rabbi Chaim Schabes wrote in a joint statement. “It is unfortunate that these outsiders are targeting our community and attacking our right of self-determination…We urge our residents to continue to ignore these attempts to exploit our differences and ask that they stand together.”

But the message did little to dissuade hundreds of people from showing up, mostly Orthodox Jewish families from all over the region; some bussed into Monsey from as far away as Brooklyn and Lakewood, New Jersey.

Crowds trickled in at first, but by 8:30 p.m. the ballroom was packed with hundreds of spectators, with women and men separated by a cloth partition. (The podium was in front of the men’s side, while women initially had to make do with a video projection. After some protest from non-Orthodox women there, organizers pulled back the curtain a few feet so women could see the stage.)

Just one of the event’s five speakers, who were introduced as “distinguished personalities” and the “cream of humanity’s crop,” was from the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hillel Handler, who has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” in the past, told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.”

He also said that Hasidim were being scapegoated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who he called “a very, very sneaky fellow” and a German.

“The Jews are our misfortune,” he said, bringing up how Jews were stigmatized in Nazi Germany. “We Hasidim have been chosen as the target in order to distract from the virulent diseases that are sweeping through the city from illegals.”

The other speakers were figures from the national secular anti-vaccination circuit, who traded in long-debunked and fraudulent claims that vaccines cause autism or other autoimmune disorders, while painting measles as a trivial childhood illness that can give children a growth spurt or protect them from cancers.

D.C. lobbyist Greg Mitchell took the stage after Rabbi Handler. Mitchell has pushed for such causes as the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform bill signed into law late last year by President Trump. Mitchell, according to a report from the Daily Beast, was booted from those efforts when organizers found out he was also lobbying for the Church of Scientology, and that the church was potentially trying to convert formerly incarcerated people through a nonprofit it runs.

“I will be your voice in Washington, I’ll make it will help you carry your message; I will stand next to you,” Mitchell said, admitting not to know much about the vaccine safety issue and deferring to the expertise of other speakers. “I’m your lobbyist, I’m here to help you.”

Palevsky then questioned the reality of a measles outbreak, while warning the crowd about the measles vaccine. “Hundreds of thousands if not millions of mothers…have witnessed children regressing after they get the MMR…the children stop talking, they don’t look at you, they start flapping their arms, they start banging their head,” he said.

According to New York City and Rockland Health Departments, the vast majority of people who’ve gotten sick with measles have been unvaccinated. In Rockland County, 92 percent of people were either completely unvaccinated or had an known vaccination status, according to the county’s health department. In New York City, 92 percent of children who got sick and 72 percent of adults were unvaccinated as of April 24, according to a city Department of Health advisory sent out to health care providers.

The final speakers were two of the biggest names on the anti-vaccination circuit. Andrew Wakefield, the author of the fraudulent 1998 paper published then retracted in the Lancet that claimed there was a link between the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine and autism by looking at 12 autistic children, spoke to the crowd via videoconference.

“I want to reassure you, I have never been involved in scientific fraud,” he said. “What happened to me is what happens to doctors who threaten the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies and who threaten government policy in the interest of their patients and that is what happened.”

Embedded video

Gwynne Hogan@GwynneFitz

Andrew Wakefield joined the crowd via ominous video conference:

See Gwynne Hogan’s other Tweets

After Wakefield’s study was found to contain factual inaccuracies and ethical violations, investigative journalist Brian Deer revealed that Wakefield had also been receiving payments from an attorney trying to sue the vaccine manufacturer.

Finally, Del Bigtree, TV producer-turned-anti-vaccination YouTube host, addressed the crowd.

“This could destroy our species…They wanna talk about the measles,” Bigtree shouted to the exuberant crowd. “I wanna talk about autism, I want to talk about the greatest epidemic of our lifetime and all the other chronic illnesses that are skyrocketing in this country.”

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