JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – If you oppose the changes going on in Ocean County, chances are, at one point or another, you have been branded an antisemite.
Over the past few years, antisemitism has become politically weaponized in Ocean County by political parties and warring municipal factions in northern Ocean County. This comes as the Orthodox Jewish community that once was comfortable with being contained in Lakewood Township has run out of room to grow and open spaces and is now seeking beyond the borders to live, work and play.
That growth outside of Lakewood has been a politically charged topic. Both Republicans and Democrats now run elections based almost solely by who is “with Lakewood” and who is “against Lakewood”.
Mailers showing politicians and public figures in photos with Orthodox Jews have been used tp paint a picture that they had ‘sold out’ to Lakewood interests, Lakewood builders, and the like. Many of those mailers used in Toms River and Jackson Township’s recent elections have been misleading and oftentimes, outright lies intended to harm the reputation of political opponents.
Now, as a new election season dawns in Jackson there’s a new twist to using the Orthodox Jewish community and antisemitism as a political weapon. Orthodox Jewish residents in Jackson and Lakewood are now using claims of antisemitism in an attempt to harm political candidates they oppose.
Case in point is the Thursday night election of Alex Sauickie to the state assembly. Forces aligned with an opposition to Sauickie launched an unsuccessful last-minute smear campaign against Sauickie claiming he is an antisemite. Calls were made to political leaders across the Jersey Shore warning them that if they vote for Sauickie on Thursday, they too could be branded an antisemite.
Those calls and threats fell short of moving the needle as Sauickie defeated his opponents in a landslide. It could be because most people are tired of the religious identity politics going on in places like Jackson.
Instead, candidates and voters are simply ignoring propaganda style messaging. That messaging is often manipulated based on the political climate. A few years ago, it was in style to be anti-Orthodox for Jackson politicians. Now, as the community has grown, politicians are realizing they now need that Jewish vote to win elections.
Last week, an obscure and little read ‘politics porn’ blogsite denounced several members of Jackson Township’s Republican Club as being anti-semitic, yet claiming they are making land deals with the Lakewood community at the same time in a futile attempt to continue the removal of longtime non-Jewish residents from Jackson Township government, in favor of elected officials more sympathetic to the plight of the Orthodox Jewish community in town.
Although few people follow that blog these days because of the operator’s involvement in paid political propaganda dating back to the early 2000s, politicians who were made aware of the allegations became concerned.
In the end, the concern was unfounded as the majority of Republican voters Tuesday night voted in favor of Alex Sauckie to become the state’s next assemblyman, discounting the value, reach and influence of the once popular Jewish fear-mongering blog site that has been in steady decline since it switched to become a politically and possibly financially motivated propaganda machine for the influencers in and around Lakewood and Jackson.
If you delve deep into the ramblings of the blog, you’ll see the same people being branded antisemites being branded Jewish sympathizers just months and week ago to serve and alternate purpose. It has come to the point where everyone on both side of the debate have just pulled up and left the manic ramblings in the dust.
The main purpose of religious identity politics is simple, defamation. No longer is it about protecting the rights of Orthodox Jewish community members, now it’s about weaponizing antisemitism to politically, socially, and financially damage political opponents, at all cost.
Luckily, most residents now realize they have been played by a professional fraudster and propagandist and ignore those ramblings wholeheartedly.
The liberal use of antisemitism in Ocean County by that blog writer, politicians, and now the Orthodox Jewish community itself to achieve political goals has definitely cheapened the value of the very serious topic.
Sauickie’s landslide election victory sent a clear message to those who use antisemitism purely as a political attack weapon, it’s not working. His win also solidifies the prospects that longtime Jackson residents running for political office this year no longer have to worry about being branded an ‘antisemite’ without any clear facts or evidence.
It’s clear that although this year’s election in Jackson will revolve around religion as most in the past few years, the residents are tired of hearing about who is antisemitic and who is not. Instead, they care about the future direction of the town such as overdevelopment, quality of life issues, traffic, education, safety, taxes and protecting their property values.
As Jackson residents, we have become so calloused when it comes to the “A” word. If you oppose overdevelopment, you’re an antisemite. If you oppose traffic and congestion, you’re an antisemite. If you oppose negative impacts to public education, you’re an antisemite. If you are in favor of preserving Jackson’s rural history, you’re an antisemite. If you oppose high-density development, you’re an antisemite.
The value of the word in recent years, unfortunately, has declined and Thursday night’s landslide win by Sauickie proves you can be branded an antisemite in a politically motivated attack and it literally means nothing.
It’s time to squelch and tune out the hateful propaganda on both sides and get back to governing our community based on the rule of law and the will of the residents who live here and to ignore all insignificant outside interference.