New Jersey: Antisemitic Westboro Baptist Church Coming to West Orange Jewish Center

NY Times blog reports:

Next Tuesday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay, anti-Semitic group from Topeka, Kansas will be picketing the Cooperman Jewish Community Center on Northfield Avenue in West Orange. The center, which hosts recreational, social and educational activities, is used by many residents from Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange and is part of the JCC/Metrowest facilities.

On the church’s website,, these unedited words appear by the announcement of the JCC picketing: “Zionist freaks: It’s NOT your land! What did you steal that land for? Give it back! God Hates Thieves! Thou Shalt Not Steal! Thous Shalt Not Kill!”

The Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office is also on the church’s list of places to picket Tuesday.

“The group’s message is despicable; it is by no means a mainstream religious organization,” said Etzion Neuer, the office’s director. “However, their message, though hateful and offensive, is still protected under the First Amendment.”

He added, “Any group that would picket the funerals of American soldiers demonstrates just how far out on the lunatic fringe they are.”

Alan Feldman, the chief executive officer of JCC MetroWest, is encouraging people not to engage with the protesters or form counter demonstrations, but to join in a dialog about intolerance inside the center.

“Their intent would be keep people away,” he said of the picketers, “but we want people to come.”

Mr. Feldman said, "my hope is people will come gather internally ,and the solidarity of our assembly can be a loud voice against all expressions of hate and intolerance that are embodied in all this group does."
While we respect JCC MetroWest's wishes, why not counter demonstrate?  This type of hatred must be addressed head-on, in our opinion - not running into a building and hiding. This was the same thing that happened during all the pro-Hamas rallies happening throughout the world in December 2008 - January of 2009, the Jewish establishment urged people to not counter demonstrate, while the JIDF organized counter rallies.

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