Last week, many letters appeared in the Great Neck News supporting Steven Markowitz, who had been called an anti-Semite by several other Jews in Great Neck. It was good to see many in our community voice their positive opinions about Steve, but this response in itself does not address the problem we are facing here in Great Neck. I have also been called an anti-Semite on Facebook, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
What we have here is a group of Jews who employ a consistent, deplorable strategy of bullying and intimidation of other Jews, who happen to disagree with them on various issues. Anyone at all is open to being labeled an anti-Semite. Let me remind this group that there are actual, real anti-Semites out there who don’t care at all what brand of Judaism any of us practices—they hate us all. The fact that these people are out there makes it even more despicable for one Jew to use this term against another.
Let me present a scenario. A year or so ago, the Orthodox Jewish community here in Great Neck organized a campaign to undermine our public schools by defeating the school bond. In the second vote, their strategy was soundly defeated when the electorate in Great Neck rose up to vote overwhelmingly in support of the school bond. Had the Orthodox plan succeeded, the quality of our schools would have been noticeably diminished, and our property values along with it as a result. Since most of Great Neck is made up of Jews, one can conclude that the Orthodox are themselves anti-Semitic! Think about it. It’s no more absurd (probably less so) than someone calling me an anti-Semite.
Most of us here in Great Neck, I feel, have adopted a philosophy of live and let live. Great Neck is changing, and we have to do our best to adapt to the changes. The Orthodox (some of them, at least), on the other hand, are determined to transform the town without considering the well-being and best interests of the town as a whole. Is there any hope that we can live in an atmosphere of tolerance rather than one of intolerance?