Rocky vs. Howie: The pro- and anti-Trump forces face off in Long Branch | Mulshine – NJ.com

Posted By on August 14, 2020

I was on the phone Sunday commiserating with a fellow scribe about how difficult it is to cover this presidential campaign, with its many virtual events.

Just after I hung up, I got an email about an actual event. President Trump was having a fund-raiser that evening at a private house in the Elberon district of Long Branch. This is the part of town famed for its beautiful beachfront homes and the summer visits of Seven Presidents - the name for the nearby county park.

I realized right away there would be no media access. Politicians of both parties dont want us inkstained wretches watching them beg for bucks. But I needed a news angle.

Thats when I thought of my old surfing buddy Howard Kuker, who lives not far from the county park named for those Seven Presidents who have summered in the town. I figured Howie would know if there were any protests planned against the eighth president in question.

First I had to listen to Howie give me a spiel about The Donald. Trump is a thief and a liar and worse, Howie told me.

Finally he told me what I wanted to know that the anti-Trumpers would be holding a rally at the train station not far from the private home where the fund-raiser was being held.

I put the top down on my sports car and had a pleasant drive north on as beautiful a summer Sunday as youre likely to see.

When I made the final turn to the station, I hit a traffic jam. One car after another went by with horns blaring. Many had pro-Trump banners.

After I made it to the parking lot, I saw that the battle lines had been drawn. The anti-Trumpers were on the south side of the street, where they had erected a giant blow-up doll of Trump as a baby.

On the north side were the pro-Trumpers. There were only a few cops to keep the two apart. But both sides seemed content to shout and scream at those on the other side of the road.

Not Howie. He showed up wearing a hat proclaiming he is a Navy veteran of Vietnam, which he is. His plan was to use the hat as entre to circulate among the pro-Trumpers as he handed out cards for his favorite charity, which fights suicide among veterans.

So far, so good. But he also planned to carry a Dump Trump poster.

Im gonna hand out cards to these pro-Trumpers, Howie told me. You gonna take my picture?

I didnt. But our photographer Ed Murray did. The photo shows Howie facing off with a guy with grey hair. Both are pointing at each other and shouting.

That guys name is Ray Antoky, Rocky to his fellow Elberon residents. I had spoken with Rocky earlier when I saw him pull up in a sports car of his own, an immaculately restored 1959 Triumph TR-3. After we got the subject of sports cars out of the way, I asked him about his political views.

Theyre socialist, communist, whatever you want to call it, he said of the protesters. I saw this morning they were gonna have a protest. I figured Id come by and show that we have our own enthusiasm.

He certainly did. When one of the anti-Trumpers took out a bullhorn, a cop quickly told her no amplification was allowed.

But theres no way to outlaw the human voice. Rocky didnt need any amplification as he shouted, You lost! We won! at the anti-Trumpers.

In reality, no one keeps score of that sort of thing. But if the anti-Trumpers were expecting a warm reception here in Blue Jersey, they had to be sorely disappointed by the Long Branch locals.

Rocky told me that those on his side of the argument are his fellow Sephardic Jews. They are descendants of immigrants from all over the Mideast.

A 2009 New York Times article on the Jewish community in Elberon and neighboring Deal noted that, A generation still speaks Arabic, though some of the earliest Sephardic settlers have moved away, tired of the commute back to Brooklyn.

Rocky said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of summer-only residents have decided to desert Brooklyn for the Shore.

And the Sephardic Jews are firmly in Trumps corner, he said. One reason is the emergence of The Squad in Congress. Two of the four, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are seen by many Jews as hostile to Israel.

These people are dangerous, said Rocky. Theyre anti-Israel.

Then there was Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Rocky said, Trump has been amazing for the Jews. He moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I was there. I saw it.

As for Howie, who is also Jewish but not Sephardic, he said of Trump, He didnt do it because he cares about the Jews. He did it for political reasons.

Maybe he did. But perhaps Joe Biden should do something for political reasons.

Even Howie puts on a better show.

BELOW - A CLASSIC SPORTS CAR:

Rocky Antoky and his 1959 Triumph TR-3 as he showed up to protest anti-Trump protesters in Long Branch Sunday. Note the anti-Trump messages on the minivan behind.

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Rocky vs. Howie: The pro- and anti-Trump forces face off in Long Branch | Mulshine - NJ.com

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