For Rockland DA a Prosecutor or Persecutor?
Another election is coming this Tuesday November 5th and is shaping up to be the most consequential for the Orthodox community in Rockland County. While there is occasionally a question as to which candidates to support, that is not the case this year. This year, the hostility to the Orthodox community is out in the open.
There is a candidate running for the powerful office of Rockland County District Attorney who has promised to persecute the Orthodox and Chasidic community. Michael Diederich does not hide his bigoted beliefs. He says that Orthodox and Chasidic families are too large, and parents will be prosecuted for abuse. He has promised that as a DA he will close Yeshivas that he says “underperform” his standards and he wants to control the curriculum to force us to teach subjects that are contrary to our beliefs. Diederich plans to bring racketeering lawsuits (the kind used against the mafia) against our community.
Several weeks ago the Rockland County Republican party posted a video on its web page that blamed the Orthodox community for all the problems in Rockland. Their basic message was “If they (the Orthodox) win, then we (everyone else) lose.” It was classic anti-Semitism. That Jews are working to gain only for themselves at everyone else’s expense.
The outcry was dramatic from around the state with many officials rushing to condemn this hatred. The video was pulled down but its creation and dissemination showed the determination of many in Rockland to make the frum community THE major issue in the elections.
There is a whole ballot line, the SAM party or Row H, whose entire platform is to oppose the Orthodox community or the bloc vote as they pejoratively call it.
Can you imagine that in the United States of America, in New York, in 2019, that it is acceptable for run for office to oppose the rights and needs of a specific ethnic or religious group?
Can you imagine if another minority group was demonized in the manner in which Orthodox Jews are targeted in Rockland?
The one candidate who was too extreme in his anti-Orthodox rhetoric even for the SAM party is Michael Diederich who is running for District attorney on his own line. That should not mean that we should not take him seriously. Diederich, despite his extreme alt-right views, has the support of some elected officials and others in Rockland.
As mentioned, Diederich’s platform is beyond alarming. Diederich has made it clear that, if elected, he would make sweeping changes against the Orthodox and Chasidic community. He said that level of secular education offered in Chasidic schools as a criminal offense that he intended to prosecute, Diederich vowed to “wield the sword of the prosecutor to protect Hasidic women and children in this county.” Diederich is actually on record saying that ALL children should attend public schools. He has called religious education un-American.
Diederich campaign website compares Rockland County to a “Titanic heading toward icebergs” and vows to tackle welfare abuse in New Square, Kaser and Monsey, while calling the frum community’s right to vote, anti-democracy and a violation of the United States Constitution.
We have always had politicians in Rockland who have campaigned against our community. The possibility that someone like Michael Diederich could become the DA should frighten everyone The District Attorney wields enormous power over criminal justice and has discretion over who to prosecute. Take him seriously that if he wins he will engage in targeted persecution of Rockland County’s Orthodox population and institutions.
Tom Walsh has spent 36 years as a judge, starting at the village level and working his way up to State Supreme Court, a position he retired from this year to run for district attorney. He has the rare support of the Democrat, Republican, and Conservative parties. He has the support of every police organization in Rockland. The only negative that Diederich’s supporters say about Walsh is that he is supported by the orthodox community.
Our community is derisively called the bloc vote by many in Rockland. They call us that simply because we exercise our rights to vote as Americans. On Tuesday, we all have an opportunity to stand for what is right, to stand for equal justice and fairness under the law to stand up for our needs. We have nothing to apologize for.
Electing a man of integrity like Judge Tom Walsh is critical for our future and the future of our children.