Satmar hasidim appear to have been behind blocking American Atheists from posting a billboard in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said American Atheists' David Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”
Satmar hasidim appear to have stopped American Atheists from posting a billboard in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Paper reports:
[A]t the last minute, landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into his building, according to American Atheists president David Silverman.
Silverman claims powerful neighborhood rabbis convinced Stier to block the non-believing billboard and called the religious leaders and the landlord “anti-atheist bigots.”
“The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”
Hadsidim denied they were behind the billboard censorship.
But that didn't stop Satmar's Rabbi David Neiderman from attacking American Atheists:
The plan immediately outraged Williamsburg’s Jewish like Rabbi David Niederman, who called the sign “inappropriate” and the atheists a “group of crazies.”
“They lost their purpose in life,” said Niederman, who heads the Jewish social services group United Jewish Organizations. “They’re not even going to make a dent. It’s a disgrace. The name of god is very holy to us and to the whole world.”
Predictably, a local politician also backed Satmar and attacked American Atheists:
Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.
“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”
American Atheists claim they had a purpose in placing the billboard in Williamsburg that goes past shocking people:
Silverman says he wanted to advertise in the Hasidic community because it is “teeming with atheists,” and claimed its residents often email his group in order to find a way out. He hoped the billboard would inspire some of them to attend an atheist rally in Washington DC on March 24.
“There are a number of [Hasidic Jews] saying they are stuck in their lives and it’s very surprising,” said Silverman. “They can’t leave. They don’t the requisite job skills or an education. So we want them to come to the rally, have a little fun and go home and make decisions with their lives.”
[Hat Tip: Burich, et al.]