ABC reports on the ongoing #TomsRiverStrong controversy. See report and video here.

The report quotes a Toms River resident that says it like it is.

Michele McNeill is one of the residents who believes the signs are offensive. She explains, “Do they want Muslims not to live here? Do they want blacks not to live here? Or is it just the Orthodox Jewish culture? To me it’s racist.”

One can only imagine the heartache Ms. Mcneill will endure once her friends and neighbors hear about this.

Ms. Mcneill actually brings up a really good point here though. One can only imagine the reaction if the #TomsRiverStrong campaign would be about African American’s and/or Muslims moving to the area. Al Sharpton and CAIR would be all over this thing like a hot potato.

Don’t get me wrong though. I get it. I wouldn’t want real estate agents knocking on my door multiple times at all hours of the day either. But the bigotry and racism that surrounds this campaign is inexcusable and quite un-American.

Peruse any of the “strong” social media groups. The posts are about Jews. The comments are about Jews. Many of them flagrantly anti-semitic and racist. There is no denying that. The fact that Lakewood Township has issues has nothing to do with young Orthodox Jewish couples and families seeking to live the American Dream by buying homes in the townships surrounding Lakewood. Yes. Lakewood is by and large an Orthodox town with much of the local government part of the Orthodox Jewish community. But that doesn’t mean that the issues plaguing this unique NJ town is caused by all of Lakewood’s Orthodox population. This should really be common sense, but most of these groups and “activists” don’t see it that way. To them its one big massive conspiracy created by Jews around the world. Simply peruse the Facebook page of groups like Monmouth and Ocean County Strong or #TomsRiverStrong and you should be able to come to the same conclusion.

And the idea that the Mayor of a town refers to the the influx of a specific ethnicity in his township as an “invasion” is far more disturbing than most of the anti-Semites hanging around social media. And he actually said this to Bloomberg, national and respectable (for the most part) media outlet! Its about the tone at the top. Toms River Mayor Kelaher isn’t just stirring the coals. He is the coals. He could have easily used his Bloomberg interview as an opportunity  to shut down the hate. Instead, he did the exact opposite. And then he refused to apologize. Perhaps Kelaher should take the cue from Mayor Gotto of the neighboring township of Howell. Back in November of 2015, Mayor Gotto called out ( certain residents of Howell for their antisemitic comments and behavior. But guess what? Residents are threatening a recall (they recently received approval for a petition to remove the Deputy Mayor). So I guess I understand why Kelaher is not following in Gotto’s footsteps. He is scared. But that’s no excuse. As mentioned earlier, imagine the firestorm if Kelahers comments were about “Blacks invading” Toms River. Imagine.

Further stirring the coals, the Asbury Park Press has been publishing articles in their daily rag and posts on their social media accounts about the controversy and about Lakewood in general. Peruse the comments section in some of these posts. You may actually question if we are living in the age of the Grand Kligel Fligel Duke or the age of understanding and tolerance of minorities. Furthermore the Press has a habit of posting letters to the editor that are clearly, well stupid, but also borderline antisemitic. Things like the “Jews dont pay taxes” or “the FBI should investigate all the Lakewood Jewish charities”. If not anti-semitic, they are definitely generalizations and stereotypes that even a 10 year old should be able to understand are not appropriate. Yet, we have mature adults writing these letters which then get published in a regional newspaper. At times I wonder if these letters actually express the sentiments of the Press’ staff. It definitely seems like it.

Anyways, I digress. More to come.

This is America. America is a country of coexistence. If you cant deal with it, go live somewhere else.

More Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found in Toms River

TheLakewoodScoop is reporting that additional anti-Semitic graffiti has been found in a Toms River park. This comes on the heels of a similar incident occurring this month where “burn the Jews” was found etched into playground equipment. See the Scoops report on that incident here. In that incident, it took Mayor Kelaher almost three days to issue a condemnation. Given the mayor’s recent comments about Jews “invading” (Bloomberg) Toms River, it would be quite surprising if this new incident elicits a response at all.

What is the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)?

In a nutshell, RLUIPA prohibits zoning and landmarking laws that:

  1. treat churches or other religious assemblies or institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious institutions;
  2. discriminate against any assemblies or institutions on the basis of religion or religious denomination;
  3. totally exclude religious assemblies from a jurisdiction; or
  4. unreasonably limit religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.

See summary here and more detail here. Also see the Department of Justice’s report on the tenth anniversary of RLUIPA here.