White supremacist shooter railed against Orthodox Jews moving to NY suburbs

Payton Gendron said that the “aim” of these growing Jewish communities was to “create enclaves that are hostile to outsiders.”

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The manifesto assembled by the white supremacist gunman charged with murdering ten people and wounding three more, 11 of whom were Black, in a racially-motivated shooting attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, last Saturday included a diatribe against Orthodox Jews moving into traditionally non-Jewish neighborhoods of New York and New Jersey — underscoring the growing antisemitism faced by these communities, a Jewish official told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

“It’s not surprising that someone who says that Jews are the biggest threat to the western world, and who wants to engineer a war between Jews and gentiles, would use these types of arguments,” Alexander Rosemberg, deputy regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New York office, said in a phone interview.

The 180-page manifesto posted by 18-year-old Payton Gendron on the day of the massacre highlighted suburbs in New York and New Jersey that had witnessed an increase in Orthodox Jewish families moving in, local news outlet the Lakewood Scoop reported.

“Hasidim routinely register their homes as places of worship to avoid property taxes, making other local residents pay for police and fire services as well as the maintenance of infrastructure,” the manifesto declared, in a passage the ADL noted was lifted from a Jan. 28 article published by the American Free Press, a far-right website.

It accused Jewish women of “routinely filing as single mothers to get childcare subsidy checks,” while Jewish men allegedly refused to work “so they can study the Talmud so they are able to engage in wholesale welfare fraud, claiming poverty, to get food stamps, social security and other money services.”

Gendron went on to assert that the “aim” of these growing Jewish communities was to “create enclaves that are hostile to outsiders.”

The ‘Great Replacement’ theory

Gendron justified his atrocity by appealing to the “Great Replacement” theory — a conspiracy theory promoted by white supremacists and some conservatives which holds that the mass immigration of communities of color is a Jewish plot to weaken the white race.

Twenty-nine pages of his manifesto were devoted to the subject of Jewish people, compared with 10 pages that dwelt on African-Americans and one page dealing with Middle Eastern immigrants.

In one passage, Gendron explained that while he regarded Jews as a problem that “can be dealt with in time,” those communities he labeled “high fertility replacers” had to be “destroyed first” before they could “destroy us.”

The ADL’s Rosemberg said that the tropes emerging from the “Great Replacement” theory constituted a “big piece of what Haredi and Hasidic populations have been dealing with.” He pointed out that ADL’s audit of antisemitism in the U.S. in 2021, which revealed record levels of bigotry towards Jews, had shown a strong concentration of incidents in those parts of New York and New Jersey with significant Orthodox Jewish populations.

“The six counties with the most incidents — 47 percent of the total — have very large Hasidic communities,” Rosemberg said, naming Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bergen County, Ocean County and Middlesex County.

Separately, the Ocean County Sheriff said that his officers would be paying heightened attention to security after he discovered that two towns within his jurisdiction, Lakewood and Toms River, were mentioned specifically in Gendron’s manifesto. “Once we learned of the mention we reached out to our communities,” Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy told the Patch news outlet on Monday.

‘What we say has consequences’

During the last year, rhetoric resembling the “Great Replacement” theory has been heard at town meetings from local residents concerned by the arrival of large Jewish communities.

One speaker at a meeting in Rockland County, NY, last November warned that he might hit an individual “from a certain sect of people” with his vehicle, adding that if that were the case, “of course, I’m gonna back over them again.” At similar meetings in Jackson, NJ and Rockville Centre, NY, speakers accused local Jews of monopolizing local services and illegally holding religious services in private homes.

Rosemberg observed that while aspects of the “Great Replacement” theory had “trickled into the zeitgeist via more legitimate sources” — resulting in “people buying into the idea that the Jews are moving in and changing our way of life” — the responsibility for this development resided with “the people who have large bully pulpits and use them to spout that theory and normalize it.”

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However, Rosemberg stressed that “we also have an individual responsibility to understand that what we say has consequences.”

Elsewhere in his manifesto, Gendron recycled other established antisemitic tropes, among them claims about Jewish control of the media, alleged Jewish “hatred” of Christians, and alleged Jewish involvement in child abuse.

An ADL analysis of the manifesto observed that it “closely parallels — and in some cases duplicates — language from New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant’s 2019 manifesto. Gendron also mimicked Tarrant by writing racist messages on his firearm.”