Rabbi's lawsuit against Town of Ramapo for displaying Israeli flag can proceed

The rabbi who tore down the Israeli flag displayed on a municipal building has replied to the motion to dismiss his lawsuit. He asserts that the display violates a New York state law that prohibits erecting symbols of exalting foreign powers on municipal property and that it also violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution as well as the New York State Constitution.

The rabbi is requesting that the court order the town of Ramapo to remove the flag and to cease flying it on town property. He believes that there are at least 1000 adult residents within the Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox community of Ramapo who strongly oppose the municipal government flying/displaying the Israeli flag and fully support his lawsuit. Moreover, based on his interactions and observations, he estimates that there are between 2 to 3000 people within the local Hasidic community who are uncomfortable with the flag being posted by the Ramapo government on town property whether on the town hall building or flying on a flag pole in front of it. He also believes that thousands more Jewish residents avoid taking a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would rather stay away from Middle East politics entirely.

The rabbi traces his roots back to his great grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors and respected Rabbis with numerous followers. Almost all Orthodox rabbis unanimously and vocally rejected the idea of Zionism and fought the Zionist movement at every turn. His great grandparents adhered to this school of thought, losing some members of their congregation and financial support for their religious beliefs. He asserts that the display of the Israeli flag on municipal property amounts to a declaration that all Jews everywhere support Israel and approve of its policies, which is not true and is harmful to Jewish people who dislike Zionism, Israel, or both.

He cites the Satmar Hasidic community, one of the largest and most vocal Hasidic dynasties, as one that recognizes neither the state of Israel nor Zionism as representative of Jewish faith or history. According to the rabbi, the display of the Israeli flag has not only offended the fundamental faith beliefs of thousands of its Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox citizens but has also created the real possibility of triggering danger and violence directed at them. He claims that pretending to the world that Israel is a free country that ensures essential freedoms expected and accepted in the Western world, the Zionist government has long legislated restraints upon religious Jews from freely adhering to Torah law. The only way religious freedoms in Israel can remain protected, he argues, is through outspoken opposition from Jews around the world rejecting its representation and calling out Israel for religious persecution.

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