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!

Blatant anti-Semitism or Skewed Enforcement of Zoning Laws – Airmont, NY [video]

Clarkstown – What They Don’t Want You To Know

What Is Going On Along Hillside Avenue?

Zombie Houses, Headless Chickens, And Mikvahs!

CUPON Mahwah (Citizens United to Preserve Our Neighborhoods) To Address The Village of Airmont’s Elected Officials On This Situation At 7:00 pm On Monday, February 3rd, 251 Cherry Lane, Airmont NY 10901.

Picture this: a peaceful, wooded stretch of land that offers respite from suburbia; a mixed community that lives there in harmony; good neighbors who lend a hand when needed while raising their families; extensive woodlands that supports wild animals; clear streams crisscrossing the area draining into a wetland that supports a host of creatures.

Into this picture comes some who begin to harass the long-term residents, hoping to get them to move out. Illegal blockbusting tactics mean residents are bombarded with unsolicited offers to buy their properties. Unidentified strangers park and turn around in residents’ driveways; one reverses into a parked car; one knocks over a mailbox and drives away; a headless chicken appears in the driveway of a resident who makes it clear to those who make the “offers” he intends to stay put.

OK, it’s not a horse’s head in someone’s bed and maybe the chicken just lost its head on a stroll about the neighborhood, but the message appears to be clear. The chickens want you to leave. This situation should make a local government, were it not ‘chicken’, to take immediate corrective action, right? Aren’t there laws to stop this sort of thing?

Yes, there are—but when the laws are ignored and the local politicians lack the will to enforce them, the situation continues to deteriorate and eventually you end up with Zombie houses to destroy your property values.

This is a story of a municipality that has a contract with its citizens to protect their properties and their happiness by enforcing the laws that civil society has instituted. But it has chickened out on the terms of that civil contract.

Is this happening in your neighborhood? It’s happening right now on your doorstep! Soon you too can have a zombie house in your neighborhood if you accept the mantra that your anger and resentment is really just blatant anti-Semitism and that instead of protecting your rights you need to attend seminars to control your hatred and have your children re-educated about the need to accept zombieism.

Hillside Avenue is the latest victim of Rockland County’s long list of irresponsible development projects. In the video below Heather Federico of Mahwah CUPON discusses the actions of owners and developers and indicates that there has been little resistance from the county government in Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo or the Village of Airmont. Indeed true to form the town of Ramapo refuses to turn over documentation about its own perfidy while its $400,000 compensated police chief continues to lose control over policing in a huge swath of Rockland County.

In the video we see that on December 16, 2019 CUPON addressed the Airmont Board of Trustees to ask why no action has been taken to address the numerous violations of village code and complaints made to the police about properties owned by two developers that are named by CUPON Mahwah. It appears that prima facia evidence has been obtained many laws are being flouted.

Here are a few headlines:

2, Hillside Ave, Village of Airmont
The structure at this address has had no Certificate of Occupancy since 2017. The load-bearing walls are at risk of collapse. Yet it is being used on a regular basis as a house of gathering and a weekend retreat. There is no permanent resident at the address but someone is operating a farm there which includes 2 horses, several goats and chickens — all illegal without a permanent resident. Last summer, a carnival was set up under cover of night presumably to avoid drawing the attention of local authorities.

28 and 32 Hillside Ave, Village of Airmont
This was a beautiful farmhouse; the developers allegedly converted it illegally into a 3-4 story dwelling. In 2017, work stopped and the building now stands as a giant unfinished ‘box’ — in essence it is now an abandoned zombie house.

There is trash and debris around the property. This situation has been reported to the village and the health department several times, but no action has been taken.

A circular driveway was allegedly illegally installed for which the developer was issued a $64,000 ticket which was then dismissed on a technicality. The village of Airmont has not re-issued the ticket. The driveway is still there, being used improperly by school buses and construction traffic.

44 Hillside Ave, Village of Airmont
19 acres have been notably 100 percent tax-exempt for over 20 years; the village has not pursued the taxes that should be payable on this large plot of land.

77, 79 and 85 Hillside Ave, Town of Ramapo
At this location a very large development is proposed namely a mikvah (ritual bath) with 60 parking spaces, a caretaker’s home, a large structure to hold several baths and 53 showerheads. Clear-cutting of old-growth trees has begun.

98 and 100 Hillside Ave and 99 Oratam Rd, Village of Airmont:
Another very large development is proposed: a special needs school for 100 students, with at least 60 parking spaces and a large driveway to pick up and drop off students.
This location remains 100 percent tax-exempt after an application in 2013 for a school that never materialized.

In summary, Hillside Ave is in a residential neighborhood of one-acre plots with no commercial buildings. These large, commercial projects will completely alter the character of the neighborhood and negatively affect the health and safety of local residents. Hillside Ave is an RR-50 zoning with no other commercial businesses on the block. It has no water line, no sidewalks and has a one car bridge with a 3-ton weight limit and at capacity for the traffic it can handle.

On Monday evening, February 3, 2020 CUPON Mahwah will once again raise these issues to the Village of Airmont’s elected officials. The meeting will be held at 251 Cherry Lane, Airmont, NY 10901

To see the article on FB in its original format, click here.

 

Can Allegedly Demonizing Yeshivas co-Exist with Defending Against Violence?

Comments to Rabbi Avi Shafran’s Opinion in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

by LM

Below we have republished a portion of an opinion that appeared in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, written by Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel. We would like to thank the person who sent this our way, though we are certain he would not agree with our conclusions. Thankfully, there is a mutual respect for differing opinions. We thank him for that also.

There are a few points that should be made about Shafran’s opinion in JTA. The first is we believe you can criticize over-development and the draining of the public school system for the benefit of private yeshivas (and parochial schools) and still defend against anti-Semitism and resentment. The two are not mutually exclusive. While he refers to the links as “indirect” he spends an inordinate amount of time criticizing efforts to uphold educational standards, presumably albeit indirectly linking criticism to hate.

We take the position that only when these uncomfortable subjects are aired can the differences in perception (that often create resentment) be either resolved or peacefully tabled. One can agree to disagree so long as both sides can be vocal and respectful.  

Second, Safran’s comments about the criticism of the substandard Yeshiva education in many (but not all) Hasidic yeshivas is, in our belief misguided.  Contrary to Shafran’s opinion, a fair indictment of a school system that public money is also partially funding does not detract from defending the religious beliefs that the children who graduate from those yeshivas share. It is simply a criticism of the leadership and the political governmental system that allows the education of these kids to be neglected. If public money is being used to fund these yeshivas, even a single dollar of public tax funds, then they should comply to certain state mandates. To do otherwise is an unfair requirement on all taxpayers; and that does not even address the future tax burdens that stem from inadequate education.

If Shafran’s comments are to be taken to their extreme, then perhaps this country should allow schools for white supremacists, schools for radical Muslims, schools for the Church of Latter Day Saints, Scientologists, and an endless list, all without any oversight guaranteeing that the children have some level of conformity to basic subjects when they graduate. According to Shafran, if applied equally to all faiths, any criticism of any non-conforming schools, whatever the religious belief, is contrary to a peaceful co-existence. That is absurd. Demanding certain standards be met is not indicting an entire religious belief system. Rather, it is holding an educational system to a conforming standard. The United States is based upon a system of equality and laws should be upheld equally. For the yeshiva system in New York, equality has gone out the window.  

  

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The Rockland County, NY 5-Town’s Supervisor’s Meeting – [Video], Over-development, not Blanket anti-Semitism

Dear Readers:

Many of you have been reading incessantly about a rise in anti-Semitism, insensitive and/or hateful rhetoric, language, violence, etc. This issue has become a hot-bed topic in Rockland County, New York following the stabbings that occurred at a Rabbi’s home/shul on the 7th night of Chanukah.

Yesterday, January 23, 2020, the Supervisors of the 5 towns that comprise Rockland County, New York held a Supervisor’s meeting intended to be the first step in addressing the problems within Rockland County. The Supervisors addressed the attendees and then the attendees were broken out into about 15 groups, each marshaled by a moderator who then had 3 minutes to provide the findings to the entire audience. 

This blogger moderated groups 12, 13, 14 and 15 because they were short moderators.

We were asked to answer 2 questions (simplified here): 

  1. What are the 3 most prevalent problems within the County?

  2. What are some possible solutions?

Notably, anti-Semitism was not listed as the most eminent threat or significant problem in a majority of the groups. Rather, overdevelopment and unequal enforcement of zoning/land-use laws were deemed to be an overriding problem nearly uniformly throughout each group. That speaks volumes.

The most salient points expressed as problems were:

  1. Over-development (by far the first and most significant point)

  2. Unequal treatment within the many communities in all aspects of life: development, housing, education, services, governmental assistance, law enforcement and the enforcement of building and zoning codes

  3. Political corruption

  4. Discriminatory housing practices and segregation

  5. Education and ever increasing taxes

  6. Social Media and the lack of sensitivity, both from the English-speaking non-religious sites and those geared towards the religious community

A synthesis of the possible solutions is:

  1. Equal application of zoning and housing codes

  2. Equal treatment under the law

  3. Transparency by political and law enforcement officials

  4. A tempered approach to social media, greater sensitivity and a better use of language. Most groups did not think that government intervention in censorship was appropriate, rather they suggested that we need to better temper ourselves.

LostMessiah’s blogger can be seen from about 15:18 to 19:54 on the video.

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“Aron Wieder Be Ashamed, Don’t Speak in Our Name” – Strange Political Bedfellows

 

The Strange Bedfellows of Politics and Aron Wieder’s Divisiveness, Antagonistic and Racist Behavior

Aron Wieder, a Legislator in Rockland County, New York, has a reputation among many in Rockland County for his highly politicized, venomous and divisive approach to ultra-Orthodox Jews living together with the rest of Rockland County. He comes across as racist and bigoted, self-interested and man of us are wondering what really is his “end-game.”

As the above video shows, there are many within his own community who believe that he is harming the perception of the community as the face of the ultra-Orthodox. If every ultra-Orthodox Jew is to be viewed through his lens, hatred should come as no surprise. Call that hatred what  you will, anti-Semitism is the wrong word, particularly for those of us who do not believe that our Judaism is exemplified by his behavior.

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Rockland County, Nearing a Breaking Point – Perhaps over-development is the problem [video]

 

A Tale of Two Rocklands

Note to readers:

The video is quite long, as is the write-up by its creators: “Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know” a FB page.

CWTDWYTK has more recently been the subject of attempts by the New York political machine, including Attorney General Tish James to stymie criticism that could be viewed as anti-Semitic, without so much as a review of the subject matter of the posts.

As always, admittedly, the comments can vicious but the administrators on the page have done their best to limit anything that could be viewed as hate-speech.

Given the uptick in violence against Jewish communities, particularly those who have made themselves both excluded and visible, it might be time for us to look at the socio-economic, political and cultural makeup of the people within Rockland County to see where steps can be taken to bridge gaps. It is not anti-Semitism that has guided an uptick in violence, at least not in Rockland County. Rather than invoking an all-too-used familiar mantra of anti-Semitism, it might be time to put on our big-boy pants and start analyzing problems and coming up with solutions. Enforcing zoning laws might be a start.

Anti-Semitism as a cause celebre for allowing behavior that would otherwise be deemed wholly unacceptable has taken on a life of its own.

The video was initially posted in 2 parts on the FB site. We are reposting the write-ups about the video and invite you to see the page by clicking here.

Please note this is being posted with permissions. 

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