Rabbi Levi Neubort’s request to have a menorah placed next to a holiday display in front of Borough Hall in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, has been rejected by the borough council. Borough Attorney Richard Lustgarten said he was following legal precedent. He also said that putting up a menorah would open the doors of Borough Hall to “hate groups such as the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, other race supremacists, and other groups that have a non-mainstream theme.”
Catholic League president William Donohue wasn’t buying it:
“No one in public life wants to admit to bigotry, so when bigoted decisions are made, spin follows. It’s amazing—the display of pornographic art will be defended in a public park on the grounds of free speech and the remedy cited to those who are offended is ‘avert your eyes.’ Yet when a religious symbol is placed in the same spot, the First Amendment is thrown to the wind and the remedy of averting your eyes is labeled inadequate.
“One week ago today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens declared that the city of Cincinnati could not bar a Jewish organization from displaying a menorah on a downtown plaza during the holidays. Now either the members of the Borough council in Fair Lawn do not read the newspapers or they are willfully ignorant of the law. In either case, local residents need to remember this at the next election.
“It is so bogus to maintain that if Jews are allowed to put up a menorah, Nazis will be next in line. If this were true, then there would be plenty of precedents: townships across the country that do not practice intolerance have erected menorahs and manger scenes for years without local Hitlerians taking over their parks. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that the Imperial Wizard of the KKK is waiting in the wings in Fair Lawn.
“What is needed is a lawsuit. We hope Rabbi Neubort goes that route.”