A short article on YWN this past Friday caused a firestorm of behind-the-scenes phone calls, and political back-room deals. The article was headlined “Orthodox Jewry Organizes to Vote Down Gambling Referendum”.
The article stated “With less than 2 weeks to the general elections, on November 5, the main Orthodox bloc-votes in New York started an intensive campaign to turn out tens of thousands of Orthodox voters to block plans for new casinos in the Catskill region and elsewhere in the state.”
The article accurately stated that both Satmar weekly newspaper (Der Yid and Der Blatt – representing Satmar Aronies and Satmar Zalys), featured long articles in their papers on the ills resulting from the casinos, specifically to the Catskills region’s Sullivan County. They cite an increase in violent crimes and gambling addictions, among other troubles resulting from turning the area in a gambling region. Di Tzeitung, another widely-read newspaper among Yiddish speakers, had a sketching editorial, calling the community to vote “No.”
The article ended by saying “Given the low interest among statewide voters in the casino referendum, Orthodox opposition may turn out to be decisive in blocking the plans to expand gambling in New York.”
YWN never expected what happened this past Friday. All we did was publish an article stating what appeared in THEIR publications. Our phones did not stop ringing. It became apparent, that Satmar of Kiryas Yoel was pro-gambling in Sullivan County. The leaders of that community called us repeatedly. Politicians began calling us. All day Friday. Newspapers began calling and emailing us.
Not surprisingly, the Times Herald Record did an article on this topic this Saturday. It became clear from the article that Satmar of Kiryas Yoel is all for gambling.
Here is what Rabbi Moshe Indig, a senior spokesperson for Satmar of Kiryas Yoel had to say:
“He (the Yeshiva World writer) is not affiliated with anybody. He’s not even Hasidic,” said Rabbi Moishe Indig, who helped bring at least one New York City mayoral candidate to Sullivan this summer and noted that one “article” was actually an advertisement.
Then Indig offered his community’s support for the referendum – support that was similar to another Hasidic leader, David Weiss, own owns the former Kutsher’s Sports Academy [a Satmar Kiryas Yoel owned camp] and said he was “fully supporting” the referendum.
“Our community is always here to support whatever…is the benefit of our state and county,” Indig said in an e mail. “That is why we are not against the proposal to authorize casino gaming, because it is in (favor) of our great Sullivan County.”
Indig is right. YWN’s writer is not Hasidic, and he is not affiliated with anybody. But Mr. Indig is Hasidic. And not only is he affiliated with Satmar of Kiryas Yoel (one of the 3 largest Hasidic sects in the world), but he is their leading spokesperson.
Again, to be clear, YWN is not stating any opinion on the New York State gambling referendum on Election Day. What we are stating is that Satmar of Kiryas Yoel clearly endorses gambling.
(Dov Gordon – YWN)