Letter: Markowitz Speaks Out


I hope that this will be the final statement on this matter. Because I had the temerity to support a candidate running against a mayor whose policies, actions and agenda I oppose, I became the target of an ugly, relentless and community dividing campaign against me and a critical organization I head. I have been tarred as anti-Semitic and anti-Orthodox. I want to express my deep appreciation to all those in the community who have come forth to recognize all I have done for Great Neck, the Jewish community and Israel for so many years and to reject the bilious words and threats.

For the sake of shalom bayit, harmony in our home, this controversy must come to an end, and I will extend words of contrition and reconciliation to my adversaries. However, I must first set the record straight with respect to the major aspects of their attack:

During the recent campaign for mayor and trustees of the Village of Great Neck, there was not one utterance or action by candidates Wu, Citron and Shields, or any members of the campaign, including me, indicating bias against the Orthodox community. There were, however, comments and false Internet postings hostile to Chinese and African-American residents emanating from the other side.

The Wu candidacy was not a Democratic Party plot, and there was no involvement by either political party or endorsements by elected officials, except for campaigning by former Republican state Senator Elaine Phillips for Mayor Bral. Yes, I am a Democratic Party leader, and proud of it, but that played no role whatsoever with respect to my support for candidate Wu. As a matter of fact, I do not even know in which political party he is registered but do know that at one time he worked for former Governor George Pataki, a Republican.

What disturbs me most is the attack on me in my role as chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County and the threats against the organization. Despite the spurious charges, the center is an absolutely nonpartisan, nonpolitical institution and has a board made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents and has never taken a position on a partisan issue or supported a political party or candidate. I worked very closely with former County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, and now with County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, to do the best job possible for the residents of our county. There is no and has never been any kind of conflict between my roles at the center and in the Democratic Party. The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center works tirelessly to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust, a sacred duty, and to fight anti-Semitism today. To attempt to undermine that work and support for the center in order to inflict some kind of revenge against me for a local political stand is unconscionable.

Lastly, I must address the alleged 2015 email from me viewed as antagonistic to the local Orthodox community. I agree the words and sentiment are not acceptable and are divisive. I truly do not have any memory or record of having sent this email and am embarrassed and regretful that my name is associated with it. I work closely and am friends with many Orthodox Jews. My record with respect to the Orthodox community in my roles as president of Temple Israel of Great Neck, at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council and as a 10-year member of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for the Village of Great Neck shows nothing but acceptance, respect and friendship. I was a supporter of every project by Orthodox and Persian synagogues, including Great Neck Synagogue, during my tenure on the BZA, and worked hard to foster better relations among the various branches of Judaism. Hostile public statements attributed to me are absolutely untrue. My conscience is clear, but, nevertheless, I accept responsibility for the email in question from four years ago and offer my sincere apology to all those offended by it.

I hope those who are leading the charge against me will accept my apology and that we will all now focus on ending the divisiveness and bringing our community—Jews and non-Jews—back together.

—Steven Markowitz

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