Hindu Americans Call for Disbandment of Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee
Teaneck, NJ (October 1, 2022): The New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) issued a statement Friday condemning an Anti-Hindu resolution recently passed by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee (TDMC). The statement read, “A foundational goal of the Democratic Party is to bring people together, not to divide them, and the anti-Hindu Teaneck Democratic Committee resolution does not accomplish this important goal. We stand with those who value inclusivity and diversity, and against hate and bigotry in any form.”
The TDMC resolution at issue, passed on September 12, 2022, falsely labeled five major Hindu American organizations as “Hindu Nationalist” with “direct or indirect ties” to an India-based organization simply on the basis that all are Hindu-faith based organizations. All organizations mentioned are independent 501(c)(3) organizations that are governed by their own board and/or management team; none of the organizations are financially or legally controlled, managed, supervised, or directed by any other organization, domestically or abroad.
Community outrage against the TDMC resolution led to a letter signed by a coalition of over 65 organizations, representing over 190,000 residents of Bergen County and surrounding areas. They called for the rescission of the TDMC resolution. In addition, lawmakers across New Jersey and the United States joined the Hindu American community in expressing their outrage over the level of hate and bigotry exhibited in the TDMC resolution. Congressman Josh Gottheimer condemned the resolution, saying, “I’m deeply disappointed by the anti-Hindu resolution in Teaneck. Jersey Values are about bringing people together and celebrating diversity, and decrying extremism where we see it.” The Mayor of Teaneck also issued a statement strongly condemning the resolution saying, “…Teaneck now and will always denounce any words or actions which serve to divide us or inaccurately label groups in a derogatory manner as the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee has done.”
While the resolution was passed and approved by the TDMC, the press statement for the action was released by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). This led to members of the Hindu American community calling for an investigation into the individuals and/or organizations that may have incited the TDMC to pass this defamatory and hateful resolution. The coalition letter released earlier this week acknowledged that “the TDMC may simply be a pawn in a much larger agenda to malign and denigrate the Hindu American community.”
TDMC chairwoman Alexandra Soriano-Taveras, who signed the anti-Hindu resolution, had also made bigoted comments about the Jewish American community in 2021. The community outrage from those comments resulted in her withdrawal from the contest for a State Assembly seat. At that time, Teaneck Mayor James Dunleavy had said, “Ms. Soriano-Taveras has a history of making inappropriate, impolitic and unprofessional comments. Those comments have been hurtful to different communities in Teaneck and have helped to sow division and distrust among one of the most diverse towns in New Jersey.” Teaneck City Councilmember Ellie Katz, in response to Ms. Soriano-Taveras’ antisemitic comments, stated, “I want to make clear that I have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or bigotry of any kind”.
Representatives of the Hindu American organizations accused in the TDMC resolution have attempted to reach out to the TDMC multiple times by email and by phone. Their attempts to reach out and discuss were ignored. Instead, in a recent candidate forum event hosted by TDMC, members of the Hindu American community were forcibly removed from the zoom meeting and denied the opportunity to participate in the event.
Given the history of bigotry and hatred exhibited by the TDMC against various communities in the past, the Hindu American community is calling for the revocation of the TDMC charter by the Bergen County Democratic Committee and a disbandment of the organization. “This is a platform being used to spread hate and division in a community in which people have coexisted and thrived. TDMC should not be allowed to continue to sow hatred and division in the community. As the community prepares to celebrate October as Hindu Heritage Month, we hope that responsible leaders in the Democratic Party will take action to revoke the charter for this bigoted committee.,” said Tejal Shah, a resident of Bergen County and the Overall Coordinator for the Hindu Mandhir Executives’ Conference (HMEC), a coalition of over 1100 Hindu temples across the United States.