In a courageous demonstration of true leadership, the Ocean County Board of Freeholders unanimously passed a strong Resolution specifically denouncing the hate group Rise Up Ocean County. This group, hiding behind cowardly anonymity, has consistently posted hateful images and videos of Jews in the Ocean County NJ area and beyond. Using Nazi-like propaganda tactics like distortion, character assassination, guilt by association, and outright lies, RUOC attempts to rile up their viewers by perpetuating widely discredited Jewish conspiracy theories. Particular disturbing was the presentation of a foreboding video of Orthodox children in a Jewish school yard, accompanied by a background of stern military music, with the innuendo that they are alien ‘colonizers’. Their repulsive tactics also included the false reframing of sacred Holocaust icons, such as German theologian Fredrick Martin Niemoller’s famous anti-Nazi poem.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders is the governing body of Ocean County and has a long standing and consistent record of friendship and assistance to the Jewish residents of Ocean County, including Lakewood, Toms River and Jackson. Their principled and courageous condemnation was warmly welcomed by those in attendance and by the entire Jewish community.
After the Resolution was passed, a parade of diverse community leaders rose to publicly thank the Freeholders for their clarity and resolve in declaring that haters, anti-Semites and racists – and specifically Rise Up Ocean County – have no safe haven, sympathy or support among the vast majority of Ocean County residents. Leading the chorus was Michael Cohen, East Coast Director of world renowned Simon Wiesenthal Center. He was joined among others by African-American, Hispanic and Jewish leaders, who echoed their gratitude to the Freeholders for their actions and leadership. These included: Mike McNeil (Statewide NAACP leader), Ada Gonzales (Lakewood community leader and School Board member), Rabbi Avi Schnall (Agudath Israel of NJ), Colin Lewis (community activist), Mrs. C. Jacobowitz (Beth Medrash Govoha) and a selection of Toms River and Lakewood residents.
Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg of the Lakewood Vaad said: “We thank our friends and colleagues, representing the diversity and unity of Ocean County, for proudly standing with us today in this historic rejection of hate”. Special kudos to Michael Cohen and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for their leadership in this campaigh against hate and anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Weisberg continued: “Today we joined together to RAISE up Ocean County. We now respectfully call on the leadership of our surrounding communities to join in the clear call of the Ocean County Freeholders, the Lakewood Township Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to unequivocally denounce Rise Up Ocean County and the hate it represents. Please come to the plate and pass similar Resolutions to show the haters and bigots that we stand together as one”.
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