BY RALPH SABATINI
Chairman, Clarkstown Republican Party
I have lived in Rockland County for more than 40 years and have gotten along with everyone, regardless of race or religion. But I was surprised to view the YouTube video recorded by Yossi Gestetner and narrated by Benny Polatseck – both known Chasidic community activists. The video was filled with hateful images abhorrent to all faiths in our Rockland County community.
For those of you who may not have seen it, the five minute and forty-three second video slams a Facebook page called ‘Block the Block Vote’ which states that its goal is to end financial abuse by Rockland’s “Hasidic-Orthodox community” such as that related to the East Ramapo School District. With dramatic music swelling in the background, Benny Polatseck says that “’Block the Block’ is a code word for ‘Block the Jews,’” as gates are shown shutting behind of a group of Chasidic men. The side by side captions bear the words “Nazi Germany” and “Rockland County.”
This was a wrong-headed and reprehensible message and should not have appeared either in print or on-line.
Legislator Wieder, who is also a member of the Chasidic sect, has said: “The time has come for us to pause and take stock of the state of political dialogue in Rockland County. We must acknowledge that a major problem exists in our county and that regardless of political differences, debates about issues should never descend into hateful and destructive rhetoric aimed at any community.”
While we all agree with these sentiments and have, in fact, always practiced debate with tolerance, ‘The Jew In Rockland’ video does neither. It can only serve to fuel distrust and bitterness among the people of Rockland. If Legislator Wieder really believes, as he seems to be saying in a very weak attempt to explain his colleagues behavior in having created this video, that we have serious problems requiring open, fair, and balanced debate then why did he not denounce this hate-speech video?
Did he lose sight of the fact that a video comparing Rockland County to pre-war Nazi-dominated Germany would only disgust the good people in Rockland County? Hate speech cannot and must not be tolerated and this video is a shameful example of such atrocious speech. Everyone is free to express their opinions in public, but this video does nothing but harm the fragile harmony in our county. The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community belonging to the Chasidic sect in Rockland deserves better than this.
All members of the Clarkstown Republican Party condemn this extreme form of speech promulgated with deliberate forethought from spoke-persons and representatives of the Chasidic community. As Chairman of the Clarkstown Republican Party I can state unequivocally that we wish for good relationships with everyone in our community where all citizens will be treated equally and where there is no special treatment for any group or individual.