Great Neck resident David Zielenziger’s letter to the editor on June 14 states: “If the mayor of Great Neck and his running mates are reelected, the village will ultimately become the Long Island equivalent of Kiryat Joel … where the majority of its residents are Yiddish-speaking Hasidic Jews.”
During World War II the German Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, advocated what was called “the big lie.” The “big lie” was coined by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf in 1925. In Hitler’s book, he blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in World War I. Goebbels followed the principle that if one tells a lie, it should be a big lie. And even if the lie is ridiculous, keep repeating it. Eventually, the lie will stick with a certain percentage of people. What Mr. David Zielenziger writes in his letter to the Great Neck Record reminds me of this “big lie.” His letter plays to a potential fear of Great Neck residents.
I don’t know if Mr. Zielenziger has ever visited Kiryat Joel. I have. It’s really a very interesting place that I suggest readers visit. And after visiting, it’s a short hop to the Woodbury Common shopping center. Frankly speaking, residents of Kiryat Joel are not interested in coming to Great Neck. The thought is ludicrous—so silly that I think even Goebbels wouldn’t make the assertion Mr. Zielenziger does. Nor are any Jewish Great Neck residents interested in making our community anything like Kiryat Joel.
But that’s not the real problem with his letter, because Great Neck residents of all religious faiths and politics know our community will not become the closed religious society as is Kiryat Joel. To think that is to think elephants can be taught to fly.
The danger of David Zielenziger’s letter is that its blatantly anti-Semitic message represents classic bigotry. Mr. Zielenziger’s racist comment reminded me of the time when George Wallace ran for president in 1968 and I went to Madison Square Garden to hear his bigoted, acid rhetoric. Bigotry has a distinct foul smell like sulfur dioxide. That’s how I look at Mr. Zielenziger’s remarks in his letter. What George Wallace spewed during his heyday of racism and what Mr. Zielenziger writes echo each other.
I hope Great Neck residents will come to the conclusion that when they vote they will vote not against people who observe the Sabbath, eat kosher food and pray to God regularly; but, rather, they will vote for the candidate they feel is best for the Great Neck community. It may very well be that the best candidate is the candidate David Zielenziger wants to win but, if that candidate wins, it should not be for the reasons Mr. Zielenziger cites.
And lastly, may I remind my fellow co-religionists, whatever their level of observance: When one Jew is attacked for being a Jew, all Jews are being attacked. Learn from history.
—Martin H. Sokol
Past President, Great Neck Synagogue