Facebook takes down New Jersey page accused of anti-Semitism


(JTA) — Facebook has removed a page that opposes the expansion of the Orthodox population around Lakewood, New Jersey.

The page, called Rise Up Ocean County, had been called anti-Semitic by local leaders.

“We’ve been clear that this page trafficked in hate that has no place in NJ,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “More to do to stop the spread of hate online, but this is a step in the right direction.”

The page had been taken down temporarily in January but was later reinstated.

The group said its purpose was to mobilize locals to oppose overdevelopment around Lakewood, a town in the central part of New Jersey that has seen a boom in its Orthodox population. It encouraged members to speak out at town meetings and said it was producing a documentary.

Local leaders — Jewish and non-Jewish — said its activism crossed the line into Jew hatred.

“It’s a vicious group that’s trying very hard to put a genteel veneer on their deeply anti-Semitic agenda,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a spokesman for the Lakewood Vaad, a local Jewish communal organization, said last year.

One video posted early last year used a famous poem about Nazi Germany to warn about the dangers of Orthodox population expansion. It showed photos of crowds of Orthodox Jews set to ominous music.

“First they came for my house, but I did not speak up,” the narrator says. “I said I am not willing to sell, and closed my door. … Then they came for my forests, but I did not speak up, because I thought I had no vested interests in the forests.”

The group, whose leadership was anonymous, had denied it was anti-Semitic.

“Whenever a particular group, whether they are orthodox Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, black, hispanic, or white exercises complete control over any one element of government it is a danger,” the group said in a statement last year.

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