A Topeka-based hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church, is once again targeting Brooklyn Jews with a barrage of hate-filled demonstrations next week. The anti-Semitic, anti-gay organization plans to picket two Yeshivas – including Yeshiva Chaim Berlin & Yeshiva Torah Temimah – and one Shul in Brooklyn this coming Monday, October 11. They plan to assemble on sidewalks and sing anti-Jewish songs and display signs with slogans such as “God Hates Jews” and “America is Doomed.”
The “picket calendar” on the Church website has the following information posted:
Chabad of Kensington in Brooklyn, NY October 11, 2010 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM
Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, NY October 11, 2010 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM
Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn , NY October 11, 2010 1:15 PM – 1:45 PM
After being contacted by YWN to comment, the communities two Orthodox Jewish elected officials have taken decidedly different approaches. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind promised he would be there to counter-protest, and released the following statement to us:
“The Westboro Baptist Church is nothing more than a veiled neo-Nazi group spewing venom and bile indiscriminately. It is this kind of vitriol and loathing which led to the death of six million men, women, and children at the hands of Nazi Germany. In an open letter on their website to the “elect Jews,” this detestable group states that God hates Israel and that the Jews deserved the Holocaust. As a representative of the largest contingent of Holocaust survivors, and as a child of survivors, I cannot and will not stand idly by while these sick individuals disparage and vilify Jews, rehashing age-old anti-Semitic canards such as Jews killed Jesus. My family and I will be there this coming Monday to denounce this despicable and vile group.”
New York City Councilman David Greenfield took a different approach, “I agree with my colleague Assemblyman Hikind that these are sick anti-Semitic, racist and vile individuals who are attempting to spread hateful lies and intimidate Jews around the world. However, I believe that the best course of action in regard to these handful of known crazies is to ignore them. These mishugoyim thrive on the attention. I will denounce them, I will criticize them, I will not play into their propaganda by protesting against them and giving these bigots even more attention.”
This is not the first time the group rallied against Brooklyn Jews. In September of 2009, rallies were scheduled for Boro Park, and Jewish locations in Great Neck. At the very last moment the group cancelled the Boro park demonstration which had the entire community up in arms.
The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Rev. Fred Phelps and composed largely of his family members, has been in the news with its protests at funerals of AIDS victims and American soldiers killed in action, holding signs with messages such as “God hates America” and other obscenities. While the church has mainly protested what it perceives as homosexual targets and colleges around the country, since April 2009 it has also picketed Jewish sites, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The church is an “extreme group that spews hate wherever it goes,” said Ron Meier, director of the New York region of ADL. “Their strategy is to attract attention and draw a response and by doing so get publicity for their church, and that’s why the ADL has advised all groups not to engage them. Because without a response they don’t gain attention and any further spreading of their view,” he said.