Adolf Hitler never visited a single concentration camp.   There is no historical evidence that he personally ever killed a single Jew.  And, there exists not a single written order from him implementing the “final solution.”  And, yet, he is the symbol par excellence of the destruction of the Holocaust.   He rightly gets the credit for the murder of 10 million people, even though the very worst of the atrocities were committed by regular citizens.   Neighbors.  Teenagers.  Whole communities.  Soldiers. Lawyers, Doctors.  You name it.

The sociological explanation for this phenomenon is beyond the scope of this piece.  Except to say, Hitler created the environment of hatred and anti-Semitism.    By espousing and spreading the notion that Jews were the root cause of the many trials and tribulations the German nation faced in the 1920s and 1930s,  the stage was set.   Vilify, accuse, attack, and defame a people often enough,  the toxic conditions become inevitable.   With its economy, reputation, world-standing, armed forces, culture, and living conditions in shambles,  Hitler handed his people an easy target.  He put the gun in their hand and pointed it for them.

Old news, you say?  Maybe not.

Try moving to Mahwah, New Jersey.  Its God’s country.  Rolling hills, beautiful parks,  a good school system, bucolic homes on green acres, a nice shopping district.    If it seems like utopia, check your side-locks at the door.   You see, in recent weeks,  Mahwah has  adopted three, seemingly unconnected ordinances with familiar themes.  First, the township has outlawed the placement of small PVC pipes on certain utility poles, in violation of an existing ordinance that prohibits the placement of “signs” on public utility poles.     I could not understand how a PVC pipe could be proscribed by the ordinance but, just to be sure, I went back and listened to the 1971 song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band and there was no mention of Pipes – – PVC or otherwise.   Merriam Webster defines “sign” as

a: a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known; b: signal  c: a fundamental linguistic unit that designates an object or relation or has a purely syntactic function signs include words, morphemes, and punctuation d: one of a set of gestures used to represent language;

Clearly, the PVC pipes are not signs.  So, what’s the deal?    The pipes are used by observant orthodox Jews to create a fictional “community” within which they can carry objects or stroll their children on the Sabbath.   It’s called an eruv and the only impact of the PVC pipes is that Jews passing through or living in Mahwah, can take their children outside on Saturday.    There is sometimes a consequential result:   Jews who follow those rules may decide to move into a community with an Eruv.

But a community group has formed,  #Mahwahstrong, and hundreds have joined and regularly attend council meetings.    The issue of removing the PVC pipes (and the tenuous claim that it “has nothing to do with the Jews”)  has attracted 2000% more protestors at council meetings than tax hikes,  reduced services,  the construction of a mall, etc.   All because the PVC pipes are signs and therefore must be stopped.

Not convinced?   Consider the second ordinance, whereby Mahwah sought to exclude “New Yorkers” from using township parks, if it would interfere with the enjoyment of local residents.   Not all New Yorkers, wrote the town Council president.   If out-of-town grandmothers wish to visit, no worries.  Hmm.  Who, therefore, does the ordinance target and how could it be enforced?   Tough to say, but a lot of orthodox Jews use the park on Sundays.    The police chief complained that the inconsistent enforcement (i.e. targeting Jews) may be unlawful.   The council ignored his pleas, so he sought advice from the county prosecutor, who opined that the ordinance should not be enforced as it will almost certainly lead to discrimination.

Still unsure?  The third ordinance prohibits out-of-towners from knocking on the doors of residents without permission.   Seems reasonable. Except it was adopted because of rumors that orthodox Jews had been going door-to-door to see if any houses were for sale.   The ordinance would surely prevent that practice.

To their credit, most Mahwahnians do not try to hide their xenophobia.  They readily admit that they do not want “those people” moving into town and “ruining” their public school systems.    The bizarre claim fails to acknowledge that orthodox Jewish residents pay the same taxes as everyone else in town, but typically send their children to private school.  In other words,  “those people” fund a significant percentage of the public school system, with nary a benefit.   Sounds awful.   But, consider this:   Fair Lawn, with its Eruv and huge orthodox population,  ranks 46th in the annual ranking of hundreds of New Jersey school districts.    Paramus 42.   Highland Park comes in at 40.  Tenafly is 15th – – even after losing its legal battle to prevent its eruv.    East Brunswick is 13!  Livingston lands at number 9.   And, Princeton?   Number 1.   The eruvs in those communities did not seem to impact their public school systems.    Mahwah, by the way, lands at 60 – – behind at least 10 districts with eruvs.

But, put all that aside.  Is there any community, any race, any religion, any creed targeted by  such ordinances that would not attract the outrage of celebrities,  the media, politicians,  liberal activists,  regular activists,  Rev. Al,  Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi?  If a township passed ordinances to exclude minorities,  LGBT,  immigrants,  Christians, Muslims,  it would land on the front page until it was defeated.

But, with very minor exceptions,  no one is talking about the Mahwah brouhaha.    It’s troubling but not surprising.

Jews were among the first and most vocal supporters of the Civil Rights Acts, and Martin Luther King, Jr.    Google any injustice perpetrated against the African American community, and you will find Jews, and Jewish organizations at the front of the fight.    Yet, attend any “Black Lives Matter” rally and breathe in the visual hatred expressed against Jews.    Israel is the most progressive, liberal, and supportive nation in the world for LGBT rights, but any reference to Israel was barred from a recent LGBT march in Chicago.   No such prohibition against displaying support for countries who throw gays off roofs,  force sterilization, and criminally  ban any LGBT activity.  As long as there are no “Stars of David,” which organizers found offensive.   And, by the same token,  Israel has some of the strongest laws against rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.  Its former president is in jail for violating those laws!   That didn’t stop organizers from Chicago’s “slut Walk” from excluded any displays that relate to Israel or Jews.

It’s funny.  My Facebook feed is routinely filled with outrage from my Jewish friends,  the Jewish Media (or, should I just say “media”),  Jewish activists, and Jewish organizations whenever an injustice is perpetrated on any group – – including Muslims and Arabs.    In addition to our own history which compels us to speak out,  the theory goes,  if we don’t speak out for others, who will speak out for us?    I guess we’ll see.

About aweisbrot

Ari is a prominent litigator in New York and New Jersey. He has been featured on CBS Radio’s Wall Street Journal Report, quoted in legal and non-legal periodicals, and has been recognized as a “SuperLawyer” in New Jersey and a "Top Ten Lawyer to Watch" in New York. Mr. Weisbrot is a true “client’s lawyer,” representing a diverse range of clients from among the largest retailers in the United States to smaller local businesses to religious and charitable organizations. Ari was appointed by Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey to a three-year term of service on the Committee on Character. The Committee determines the fitness to practice law of each candidate for admission to the Bar of the State. Mr. Weisbrot also continues to serve on the District Ethics Committee (IIB - Bergen County), which operates under the auspices of the New Jersey State Office of Attorney Ethics. Mr. Weisbrot has been awarded an 'AV' rating for his professionalism and the quality of his legal work from Martindale-Hubbell, the premier directory of legal professionals, and has been selected by his peers as a Super Lawyer. In addition, Mr. Weisbrot has written several articles on commercial litigation, which have been published in the New Jersey Law Journal and the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. A Former New York City prosecutor, Mr. Weisbrot is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Urban Law Journal and a featured columnist in the Law School newspaper
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2 Responses to judenrein

  1. Joel Bettinger says:

    I will speak for you. Anytime.

  2. Adam Gussen says:

    Great points, just one correction… NJ has just under 600 school districts, not thousands

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