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Calls to Boycott NJ Businesses Draws Calls of Antisemitism

An eight-month-old call for a boycott of Teaneck businesses has drawn accusations of antisemitism and become a flashpoint in the campaign for Democratic Assembly seats in the 37th District.

The boycott call came at a July 1, 2020, rally outside Teaneck’s municipal building, where protesters gathered to support Councilwoman Gervonn Romney Rice’s failed bid to be named deputy mayor. As Romney Rice spoke, Teaneck Democratic chair Alexandra Soriano-Taveras shouted from the crowd:

“Who owns those businesses that we continue to support on Cedar Lane?” Soriano-Taveras said. “Boycott those businesses, including the Dunkin’ Donuts and everything, and we hurt them in their pockets.”

The “them” Soriano-Taveras referred to is at the center of this controversy, which flared up last week because Soriano-Taveras announced she is a Democratic state Assembly candidate.

For Teaneck Deputy Mayor Elie Katz, who calls Cedar Lane “home to one of New Jersey’s largest Jewish communities,” the message was one of clear antisemitism.

“By her actions, candidate Soriano-Taveras undermines Bergen County’s historic and bipartisan embrace of multiculturalism and seeks to destroy the fabric of our diverse community,” Katz wrote on Facebook soon after the councilwoman announced her candidacy.

“It requires connecting the dots,” said Mark Schwartz, Teaneck’s other deputy mayor. “She was talking about the Jewish stores on Cedar Lane.”

The increasingly nasty fight pits the woman who chairs Teaneck’s Democratic Party against some of the Township Council members, who were on opposite sides of last year’s council race and are seemingly locked in perpetual battle.