I’m not exactly sure why nobody has been reacting to the stakeouts at private, Jewish Jackson homes that were first made known to us by the blog Jackson Leaks. The incendiary interoffice memos published by the blog are an amazing read! They are downright scandalous, filled with intrigue and evoking communist spy movie plots, yet nobody seemed to care.

Is it just me who noticed that If this happened in any other community, targeting any other minority groups, not only would this be headline news, but it would be national news.

That’s why I was happy to read an Asbury Park Press report that in a lawsuit filed this month, a Jewish resident of Jackson is taking the city council to task for harassment. In the lawsuit, Pitney Lane resident Isaac Tawil alleges that Council Vice President Rob Nixon prompted township code enforcement officers to observe Sabbath prayer services at his home on Friday nights, an activity he described as harassment.

For those of you who are not aware, Jackson Leakes alleges the Jackson Township Council allegedly performed a series of “stakeout" operations in front of Jackson homes that were believed to have been holding Jewish prayer services. The memos even reflect some town officials questioning the legitimacy or necessity of these covert operations, yet they continued. Now you may ask, are you legally allowed to hold a private religious service in your home? The answer is yes. Then why, in fact, were municipal officials involved in an investigation like this?

The answer will probably not be surprising. You see, Jackson has been the center of huge controversy ever since Orthodox Jews began to filter into the neighborhood, thus changing the “culture” of the neighborhood, as well as apparently scaring the crap out of some Orthodox-Jew fearing residents.

And I get it. With their traditional dress, and their strange-looking customs, long-time Jackson residents probably look at this as some sort of a takeover. So they complained. They complained to the council that they suspected that illegal activities were taking place. Township officials, knowing it would look bad if it publicized this crackdown, surreptitiously waited outside peoples homes, counting how many visitors they had, how many cars were in their driveways, how many religious books were in the cars of those visitors. Creepy? Yes. And if what people feared was going on in these homes was-say-terrorism, I suppose I could understand this invasion of privacy. After all, if you see something, say something, right?

But these people saw nothing. These quiet, brief, prayer sessions were virtually invisible. Except for a few extra cars in the driveway, no one would even know it was going on. Would Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or any other religions’ prayers have frightened Jackson residents enough to badger town hall about it? And if it HAD been any other group, wouldn’t the township have tread more carefully?

The fact is, as much as you may be tempted to, you can’t you can’t complain about a certain religion or ethnicity moving into your neighborhood unless they are, in fact, breaking laws. We watched a man assemble weaponry in his home and then slaughter people in California, and nobody said a word for fear of offending their neighbors. In Jackson, we have peaceful people going about their business and people are complaining as though they have weapons of mass destruction in their homes instead of Bibles.

I’m not a “we’re all the same-love everybody” type of person. I believe in your right to judge and hate people as you please. I even respect your right to complain about it to your friends and use all the dirty words you want on social media. But when town hall answers unsubstantiated allegations against residents by monitoring and spying on homes as if there’s a terrorist threat, I think we’ve gone a bit too far. Don’t you?

An influx of Orthodox Jews has the potential to change your town dramatically. And perhaps in your opinion, it is for the worse. And I sympathize. Unfortunately, in America, that’s just the way it goes. Beginning when Asian immigrants made their way into the San Francisco Bay area right after World War II, and continuing through the early '60s, when blacks were finally not shunned from suburban neighborhoods, this is the way it is.

There are many things in this country we have no choice about. And that is because the government cannot dictate much of what we do (though there are those out there who would like to change that and give the government more control). But as it stands now, living with people who are very different from you (who you may not like very much and whose seemingly odd dress and behavior may even scare you) is a small price to pay for the privilege of living in the freest, most wonderful country in the world.

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