Updated January 21
Public officials and Jewish community members in New Jersey were hearkened after learning that a Facebook page accused of fomenting anti-Semitism among residents of a town with a large Orthodox Jewish population had been suspended by the social media network. But it turned out that page administrators had temporarily taken it down out of their own free will.
The page “Rise Up Ocean County,” which frequently contained criticisms of the Jewish population in Lakewood, was not longer publicly accessible for hours. A separate Facebook page, “Jackson NJ Strong,” claimed that a Rise Up Ocean County administrator had told them the page was “taken down.”
As the Forward reported in May, fans of the page repeatedly used harsh language to criticize the local Jewish community. “I would trust a rat before a Hassidic [sic],” one commenter wrote. “We need to get rid of them like Hitler did,” another once said.
Administrators, who remained anonymous, claimed that they tried to host valid criticisms of the area’s zoning policies and population growth, and removed anti-Semitic posts. But in April, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called on Facebook to take action against the group. Facebook told the Forward in May that they were working with the page administrators to eliminate posts that violated its standards on hate speech.
But in an interview with Jewish Insider less than a week after a shooting at a Jersey City kosher grocery store, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stepped up his criticism of Rise Up Ocean County, saying that the page and others like it were “gasoline that’s fanning the flames” of anti-Semitism.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: Several hours after this story was published, the page “Rise Up Ocean County” reappeared on Facebook. In a post at 4:15 p.m., the page’s administrators announced that they had temporarily un-published the page, apparently in order to prevent Facebook from removing it. Grewal condemned the move, pointing out that the page resurfaced “just as our Jewish brothers and sisters are gathering to celebrate the Sabbath.” “Rise Up Ocean County” has published posts on a daily basis since January 3.