New York – Four days after a Queens city councilman called for an NYPD investigation in response to a death threat against a formerly-Chasidic educational activist that allegedly appeared in Hamodia, an attorney for the paper is striking back, charging that any probe would be a violation of the publication’s first amendment rights.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2l4NSSm), Councilman Daniel Dromm sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill saying that a Hamodia editorial constituted a death threat against YAFFED head Naftuli Moster by giving him the halachic status of a rodeif. When contacted by VIN News, Dromm admitted that he knew no specific details of the death threat other than the article he had read, which he incorrectly identified as having appeared in The Jewish Week.
A statement released by Hamodia Thursday night acknowledged that the newspaper’s attorney, Ronald Coleman, had sent a response to Commissioner O’Neill advising him that Dromm’s letter was a violation of the newspaper’s right to free speech and that the issue was being considered “an active civil rights matter.” The Hamodia response also accused Dromm of improperly using city resources when he sent his official letter to the NYPD.
Construing the words of an article that never identified any specific organization or individual as a death threat was a distortion, one that “ridiculously” linked a story about the Chofetz Chaim to the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin by an extremist, noted Coleman.
Coleman classified Dromm’s request to launch an NYPD investigation of Hamodia as an “outrage.”
“This Byzantine logic cannot justify assigning law enforcement to chill the editorial expression of a community newspaper,” wrote Coleman.
Dromm, head of the council’s education committee, has emerged in recent weeks as a strong ally of YAFFED, demanding that city officials crack down on secular education in yeshivos.
Dromm was outspoken about his opposition to a 2015 city council proposal that ultimately allocated millions of dollars to provide security officers in any public or private school in New York City with an enrollment of more than 300 students.
A joint statement released by Dromm and City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez in 2015, slammed non-public schools for their stance on homosexuality.
“Yeshivas, private schools, and parochial schools, unlike public schools, are not subject to council oversight or much of the NYC Human Rights Law,” read the statement which appears on Dromm’s website. “Too often their leaders embrace homophobia, transphobia, and other horrific ideologies and subject our young people to them on a daily basis in the classroom. It is our duty to protect LGBTQ students in every school. We must not bankroll hate with tax dollars. Lamentably there is no mechanism in this legislation to prevent such a thing from happening.”
Dromm, founder of the Queens Pride Parade, represents the city’s 25th council district which includes Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. He is running unopposed in the upcoming election.
Contacted by VIN News for comment on Hamodia’s response to Commissioner O’Neill, Dromm replied tersely, “Don’t call me again.”