Everyone is a victim
As Teaneck's tensions become fodder for an ever growing list of media outlets, it is interesting how the warring sides have each sought to claim the mantle of victimhood. The Jewish Daily Forward is the latest to cover the row over the infamous luncheon photo. Its article attempts to place the somewhat absurd controversy within the context of the relations between Orthodox Jews and others in Northern New Jersey. What emerges is a he said, she said pitting Mayor Katz against his predecessor as competitors for the title of most misunderstood and unfairly victimized.
It is, of course, perfectly natural to make such an appeal when outsiders come to inquire about what is going on in town. What is telling is the nature of the victimhood that each side claims. Both believe they are being attributed motives they claim not to harbor. According to the Forward, Mayor Katz is upset that he and his cohorts take a beating for an attitude of exclusivity and Council member Kates resents when people are labeled "anti-Orthodox" for speaking out against the current Council majority.
Whether or not the protestations of Katz and Kates are correct, they are unlikely to be believed. Mistrust is now so strong in Teaneck that the tiniest slight, real or imagined, is enough to trigger another clash in the Council chambers (or online). Whatever happened to the good old days when our elected officials were free to tick off large segments of the population without being called on it?