JACKSON-A report in the Lakewood Scoop on Thursday said National Security Advisor John Bolton was heading to New Jersey to meet with religious leaders, community leaders and GOP officials to address a pattern of anti-Semitism against Orthodox Jews by the Jackson Township Republican Club.
Bolton, a former Trump aide was invited by Dr. Richard Roberts, President Trump’s former Advisor on Jewish Relations who has pledged his support to combat what has become a culture of anti-Semitism within the Jackson Republican Club.
In recent years, Jackson Township has experienced a population surge of Orthodox Jews, after neighboring Lakewood Township is running out of space to build new homes. That influx of new residents and the fear of rapid overdevelopment has the community of Jackson on edge, but Roberts said some members of the local GOP club who run the town have gone too far.
Roberts blames party leaders Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman, III and Mayor Michael Reina for the acceptance of intolerance in their party. Over the years the club has been plagued with resignations of members from township boards because of remarks made on social media. In one instance, a former Jackson GOP appointed zoning board member even threatened New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer and former Ocean County Chairman George Gilmore, both of whom are known to foster good relations with the Orthodox Jewish community in Ocean County.
Roberts claims Holman and Reina have failed to take proper actions to call out anti-Semitism within the party, especially in Jackson where the club’s two top officials, County Committee Chairwoman Clara Glory and Jackson GOP Club President Todd Porter have been under fire for insensitive and anti-Semitic posts made on Facebook against Orthodox Jews.
Jackson Township and elected officials are currently defending two federal civil rights lawsuits regarding actions and ordinances by the township government that claims those actions were based on anti-Semitism. Those defending the township claim they are merely fighting overdevelopment in their town brought by the need for more housing to accommodate the volume of Orthodox Jews moving into the town.
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In one lawsuit, plaintiff Agudath Israel of America claims the township crossed the line when it drafted ordinances aimed to limit the construction of Synagogues and dormitories for religious schools. The lawsuit also claims former Jackson Township Councilman Robert Nixon crossed many lines after it was learned that he orchestrated a campaign against Orthodox Jews that involved checking on homes where prayers were being held and an increase in code enforcement activity in neighborhoods where Orthodox Jews were moving into.
Nixon resigned from the township council in November.
Last year, three Jackson GOP Club members were forced to resign from their positions on the township planning and zoning boards after they attended a meeting of a group called “CUPON” whose mission is to discuss strategy on how to stop residential overdevelopment in the town. At that meeting, comments were made that some deemed offensive and anti-Semitic, but because the three members sat on land use boards, they were forced to resign.
John Burrows, a former zoning board member and Jackson GOP club member John Burrows who ruled against an application for an all-girls’ religious high school later posted a scathing message on Facebook against Senator Robert Singer on September 10th, 2017, a day known as Suicide Awareness Day.
“I implore senator Singer to step up and commit suicide,” Burrows posted on Facebook. He is nothing but the byproduct of a human body eating matzoh and gafelta [sic] fish.”
“After many years of watching senator Singer’s proposals and interests which are solely to support and advance the Lakewood medieval cult, on the backs of the surrounding communities, it’s time to come to an end,” his tirade continued. “He is so obviously bought, paid for, and in the pocket of the Lakewood cult.”
Burrows’ statement opened the door for the school developer to file a lawsuit against Jackson for the denial, claiming it was based on anti-Semitism and not building code or zoning.
GOP Club President Todd Porter on Facebook offered to chase Jewish children and families out of township parks by blasting death metal music and Slayer. Porter later issued an apology for that comment.
Ocean County Republican Committee Chairwoman Clara Glory was also accused of making anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, including a comment referencing Jews as criminals.
After another resident posted, “They are crooks and should be deported they serve no good interest to America. People better start waking up before it’s too late,” another user posted, “We should not stereotype, there are bad in every group.”
Glory, who also sits on the township Municipal Utilities Authority and an executive of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce replied, “NO STEREOTYPING HERE..FACTS ARE FACTS…THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT JACKSON RESIDENTS FEAR. AND YES IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING.”
Glory has also been criticized for her ties to Rise Up Ocean County by Dr. Roberts. On multiple occasions, Glory shared posts and videos by the group, which has been declared a hate group by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Rise Up Ocean County, an anonymous group claims their page is dedicated to resisting overdevelopment, but nearly every post on the page is focused on Orthodox Jews in Jackson, Lakewood and New York. Posts frequently detail crimes and offenses committed by Orthodox Jews and comments regarding overdevelopment in Lakewood Township.
Barry Calogero, another Jackson GOP Club member and elected councilman in Jackson has also come under fire for anti-Semitism. Ken Bressi, another GOP councilman recently claimed in a legal deposition that he felt Calogero and Reina were anti-Semitic. Calogero also happens to be a Trump appointee, serving as Executive Director of the NJ Farm Services branch of the USDA.
Lakewood Township is home to the world’s largest concentration of Orthodox Jews outside of Israel and home to America’s largest Jewish Yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha. Lakewood has become a concern by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the New Jersey State Police and other local law enforcement agencies after brutal attacks on Orthodox Jews in Jersey City and Monsey, New York. It has long been identified as a potential target of terrorism by DHS.
The Jackson Township GOP, which has drawn the attention of Roberts and Bolton has recently been condemned by National GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and NJ GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt who both said there is no place for hate or anti-Semitism within the Republican Party. Roberts also criticized County GOP Chairman Holman for turning a blind eye to comments made by Glory. Holman, who is also a Jackson native has been protective of Glory. The boast frequently of their longtime relationship that dates back to their childhood.
Anti-Semitism was the topic of this week’s meeting of the Jackson Republican Club after several Orthodox Jews joined the club and claimed that a club member asked for their names and wrote them on a sheet of paper. A discussion about anti-Semitism became somewhat heated when club officials reportedly asked those new Jewish club members if they thought the club was anti-Semitic.
The Orthodox Jewish growth issue isn’t contained to Jackson. In neighboring Toms River, in 2016, former Mayor Thomas Kelaher said the influx of Jewish residents was “an invasion”. Kelaher has since been replaced as Mayor by Maurice “Mo” Hill who has strong ties to the Orthodox Jewish community. Hill is a native of Lakewood and had the full support of the Jewish community during his 2019 election and tensions in Toms River have since eased.