New City, NY (June 14, 2018) – Rockland County Legislator Aron B. Wieder has denounced Facebook comments made by Legislator Laurie Santulli following a contentious meeting this week of the board’s Multi-Services Committee.
Legislator Santulli wanted to pass a memorializing resolution regarding the education of private school students. The motion failed in committee.
Several Orthodox Jews – the parents of children in private schools, as well as several students themselves, were among those who turned out to voice their opposition to the resolution, expressing their desire to maintain religious freedom.
Within hours of the resolution’s failure, Legislator Santulli commented on Facebook, referring to Legislator Wieder and Legislator Phil Soskin, the chair of the Multi-Services Committee, as “religious zealots,” and describing Legislator Soskin as using “gestapo-like tactics.”
“It’s hard to believe that in the year 2018, Legislator Laurie Santulli would choose to use the words ‘religious zealots’ to characterize observant Jews simply because we hold a different point of view and want to protect religious freedom, the very foundation this great country was built upon,” Legislator Wieder said.
“Perhaps even more abhorrent is the use of the term ‘gestapo-like actions’ of a fellow legislator, who is also Jewish. This is nothing less than shameful and insults the memory of every single victim of the Holocaust, who really were victims of the gestapo – the Nazi secret police who used terrorist tactics to brutalize and murder everyday citizens,” Legislator Wieder said.
“By her own words, Legislator Laurie Santulli has allied herself with other notorious haters of religious Jews in Rockland County. I denounce them all,” Legislator Wieder said.
Legislator Wieder addressed the meeting. Here are his comments:
“The resolution before us ostensibly addresses what is near and dear to every decent human being: the education of little children. It has been alleged that children of the ultra-orthodox Hasidic community receive no secular or adequate education, subjecting them to a life of misery and poverty.
“Ladies and gentlemen: This. Is. A. Lie.
“Recently, I’ve attended the Orthodox Jewish Builders’ Association convention in Meadowlands, New Jersey. In attendance were hundreds of business trade groups and thousands of participants, all – all – from the Hasidic community. All educated in Hasidic institutions.
“A Pew survey in 2015 found that (57 percent) of Ultra-Orthodox Jews make more than $50,000 a year as opposed to just 45 percent of Americans overall; and a quarter of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish households make more than $150,000, far above the 8 percent of Americans generally.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this resolution has nothing to do with education. The evidence is right before your eyes. Look around you. Who showed up this evening to support this resolution? It is the same people who have attacked the eruv. The same people who called the Hasidic community a cult. And it is the very same people who tolerate – tolerate – labeling the Hasidic community as cancerous. These people cannot have the well-being of my beautiful little children at heart. Make no mistake – make no mistake – this resolution is a continuous, sinister campaign to besmirch and delegitimize Hasidic Jews in Rockland County.
“A one-person organization called YAFFED released a report that I have here in my hand. It is filled with inaccuracies, lies and innuendos. I know because I have attended one of the private schools in Brooklyn mentioned in this report.
“Mr. Chair, there is nothing left for me to do but to put this report in its proper place. (He put the report in the trash can.)
“To my dearest Hasidic brethren, who look upon this terrible, terrible, horrendous campaign with anxiety, trepidation and fear, I would like to say the following: We have survived thousands of years, some in very dire circumstances. This, too, we shall survive. Hold your heads up high as proud Americans. God will protect you and bless you. The greatest constitution in the history of mankind will ultimately prevail and shield you.
“In the words of President George Washington, in his letter to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island, ‘May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of the other inhabitants while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree.’”