Albany, NY - Assemblyman Blasts Hikind For Anti-Semitic Accusations At KJ Annexation Hearing
Albany, NY - An Orange County Assemblyman has taken his Brooklyn counterpart to task, chastising Assemblyman Dov Hikind for what he termed inflammatory remarks during the Kiryas Joel public hearing last week.
In a letter to Hikind dated June 15th, Assemblyman Karl Brabenec who represents both the Town of Monroe and the Village of Kiryas Joel, slammed Hikind for comments the veteran assemblyman made during the hearing equating “anti-annexation” with “anti-Hasidic Jew.”
Brabenec noted in his letter that any opposition to the annexation are based on concerns about the projected growth in Kiryas Joel and demands that that growth would place on local infrastructure including traffic and sewer issues. Brabenec also emphasized that opposition to the expansion is further exacerbated by Kiryas Joel’s refusal to discuss these matters with critics and have nothing to do with religion.
“I assure you these questions would be raised whether Kiryas Joel was composed of Buddhists, atheists or Anabaptists!” wrote Brabenec. “This was the essence of my message when I spoke at the same public hearing as you did. Our community needs peace and we need to be better neighbors to each other, but there will be no peace as long as public debate is supplanted by name-calling and obstinacy.”
Brabenec charged that while Hikind had advocated for finding a way to achieve a peaceful coexistence, his words had exactly the opposite effect and that harmony will be impossible to achieve as long as Kiryas Joel officials continue to play the anti-Semitism card in response to any opposition to the proposed expansion.
In a phone interview with VIN News, Hikind stood behind his allegations of anti-Semitism.
“I know that Assemblyman Brabenec means well but it was clear to me seeing such an undertone of negativity that night that there is a large measure of anti-Orthodox, more specifically anti-Chasidic sentiment and there is no question that there was even some anti-Semitism there,” Hikind told VIN News.
Hikind emphasized that while he may have said that local residents were opposed to Orthodox Jews moving in, it is really the influx of Chasidic Jews that seems to make people uncomfortable.
“They look upon people with 8 or 10 or 14 kids and say, ‘That is what is going to move in here?’” observed Hikind. “When people said how many children they have, you heard hissing in the room. A lot of people would just prefer people they could bowl with, go to the movies with and go the local pizzeria with.”
Hikind acknowledged that mistakes have likely been made on both sides.
“No one is saying that one side is perfect while the other is not,” said Hikind. “But it is crystal clear to me that people feel the Chasidim are going to ruin the neighborhood. People have a right to buy homes and have the kind of families they want to have.”
Hikind acknowledged that he may be criticized for his remarks but refused to rescind them.
“People can live in their own make believe worlds and are entitled to believe that the opposition to this expansion is innocent, but there is no doubt that what drives all of this is the intention to keep out the Chasidim,” said Hikind.
See below Assemblyman’s Brabenec Letter to Assemblyman Hikind:
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