New Jersey township officials reject charge of discrimination against Orthodox Jews
Officials in Jackson Township, New Jersey, have dismissed allegations in court that Orthodox Jews have been discriminated against over land use measures.
The case dates back to last April, when New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed a discrimination complaint against the township. The named defendants, including Jackson’s mayor Michael Reina, allegedly used zoning powers to prevent an influx of Orthodox Jews from establishing their residence in the township and making it harder to practice their religion, violating New Jersey law against discrimination.
Jackson is located next to Lakewood, New Jersey, home to 50,000 Orthodox Jews and the second largest yeshiva in the world. From 2015, according to the complaint, township residents began to voice their opposition to the Jewish residence to local authorities. They also engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, saying things like “we have to get rid of it like Hitler did” and calling Jews “fucking cockroach filth”.
At the time, Grewal said: “We brought this complaint because prejudice and hatred have no place in New Jersey, and we will not allow the intolerance of some loud residents to motivate decisions. of local government. “
Tuesday, the site Law360 reported that the township land use planning and zoning board urged the court to dismiss three counts of the four-count complaint from the state attorney general’s office, including allegations according to which city officials acted illegally by surveying homes suspected of hosting prayer gatherings and banning religious schools in residential areas.
The three counts are “nothing more than vehicles for complainants to make inflammatory factual allegations designed to ignite the complainants’ own narrative that the defendants, along with the 57,731 residents of Jackson Township, are anti-Semitic hate-mongers, ”according to the boards. Short.
“These counts reflect a thinly veiled effort by the plaintiff to control public opinion with the aim of causing unfair prejudice to defendants,” the brief said.
Sean D. Gertner of Gertner & Gertner LLC, representing the two boards of directors, said Thursday that “individual government actors have obligations that they must fulfill, and it is certainly our position that no action by any member or professional associated with Jackson Township has not been made with any discriminatory intent or animosity.