Author: JCRC

Statement Regarding President Trump’s Announcement on the JCPOA

It is well known that Greater Boston’s organized Jewish community was deeply divided over the approval of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the JCPOA, or the Iran Deal). Today, too, we are not of one mind as we receive the news of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA. Regardless of our views about the JCPOA, both then and now, our community is united in our understanding that an Iranian nuclear weapons program poses a direct threat to the security of Israel and the stability of the region.

Whether or not one agrees with today’s decision, we must come together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to address other regional threats from Iran, particularly its support of Hezbollah and Hamas. We need a responsible, wise and bipartisan approach from the United States. We need a multilateral approach that includes our allies and others on the world stage. We need to look forward with a shared sense of purpose so that our worst fears are not realized, and that our hopes for a peaceful and secure future are achieved.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer to Speak at JCRC Annual Birnbaum Lecture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2018

Contact: Shira Burns

(617) 457-8673

 

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer to Speak at JCRC Annual Birnbaum Lecture

(Boston, MA) – The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) welcomes Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, to deliver the 15th Annual Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture on Monday, May 7, 2018 at Temple Reyim in Newton. Ambassador Dermer will speak on the topic, “The Challenges Facing Israel Today.”

“It is our great honor – as JCRC and as the organized Jewish community of Boston – to host the State of Israel’s highest representative to the United States, His Excellency Ambassador Ron Dermer. This lecture is appropriately named for a woman who, upon her untimely passing from breast cancer at age 48, became a symbol of Jewish unity and the inspiration for an annual program which is intended to gather individuals from across the ideological and religious spectrum of Jewish life,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “Ambassador Dermer will address the challenges facing Israel today; a timely topic in this season when we join with Israel in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the re-establishment of the state of the Jewish people in its modern form. We look forward to hearing from the Ambassador, to him addressing our questions, and to his informing and enriching our conversation as we continue to work together as a diverse and yet unified community.” To learn more and RSVP, visit https://www.jcrcboston.org/events/cbl2018. Pre-registration is required.

About Jewish Community Relations Council

JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at www.jcrcboston.org.

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Community Alert: Cambridge City Council Hearing on Israel Boycott Postponed

Jewish Community Relations Council

 

IAC

Cambridge City Council (CCC) Resolution to Boycott HP

Should the City of Cambridge Become an Instrument of the Global BDS Movement?

Hearing Postponed --- Sustain Respectful Advocacy

Once again, Mass Against HP has failed to have a Cambridge City Councilor submit their resolution before the deadline. Please note: We will not be attending the meeting on Monday April 30th, and testifying on this matter will not be possible since it is not included on the agenda. We will keep you informed in the days to come as the new hearing date is finalized. Notification will be on a Thursday afternoon in advance of the regular Monday Cambridge City Council meeting.

Until then, it is important to keep up your respectful outreach and advocacy:

  • Inform ourselves by reviewing this fact sheet and these more detailed talking points.
  • Contact all 9 city council members to send our letter, or create your own and contact the council members individually to RESPECTFULLY share your concern about this resolution. Remember that many council members have been working hard on this issue for the past week or more.
  • Reach out to friends and neighbors. Forward this email and urge them to join you.
  • Contact your rabbi or other organizational leaders and ask them to mobilize their membership.
  • Be prepared to attend the hearing when it does happen and bring concerned friends whether or not you choose to speak. We will provide additional information regarding online registration when it becomes available (on the Thursday afternoon prior to the meeting).

Cambridge BDS Hearing Postponed — But Must Sustain Respectful Advocacy

         


Update #3

For the last week an intensive effort has been underway to consult with members of the Cambridge City Council about a resolution that invites a boycott of Hewlett Packard (HP) because of business done with Israel. The initiative is being proposed by Mass Against HP (MAHP), a working group of “Jewish Voice for Peace,” an organization that is part of the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which, in the words of its leaders, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

Hundreds of people have responded by reaching out to Cambridge City Councilors to explain why the proposed resolution is morally and politically bankrupt. We have been gratified to learn that some of the City Councilors have heard us, and the resolution to boycott HP will not be put to vote on April 23rd. An effort is now underway to fashion an alternative resolution that affirms a commitment to the protection of human rights, but steers clear of bigoted attempts to single out Israel or any other country. We are hopeful that the result will be legislation that we can support. However, we are not there yet. It is important that we RESPECTFULLY continue to press our case and encourage a responsible resolution.

Please note: We will not be attending the meeting on Monday April 23rd, and testifying on this matter will not be possible since it is not included on the agenda. We will keep you informed in the days to come as the new hearing date -- likely to be in the next two weeks -- is finalized. Notification will be on a Thursday afternoon in advance of the regular Monday Cambridge City Council meeting.

Until then, it is important to keep up your respectful outreach and advocacy:

  • Inform ourselves by reviewing this fact sheet and these more detailed talking points.
  • Contact all 9 city council members to send our letter, or create your own and contact the council members individually to RESPECTFULLY share your concern about this resolution. Remember that many council members have been working hard on this issue for the past week or more.
  • Reach out to friends and neighbors. Forward this email and urge them to join you.
  • Contact your Rabbi or other organizational leaders and ask them to mobilize their membership.
  • Attend the hearing on April 30th and bring concerned friends whether or not you choose to speak.
  • For information on signing up to speak at the April 30th hearing (non-residents eligible), please contact the Cambridge City Council at 617-349-4280. We will provide additional information regarding online registration when it becomes available (likely next Thursday afternoon).

A Shameless Undemocratic Abdication to the Global BDS Movement?

         


 

On April 23rd, the City Council of Cambridge, MA is scheduled to consider a resolution that invites a boycott of Hewlett-Packard (HP) for business done with Israel. The initiative is supported by Our Revolution Cambridge, Democratic Socialists of America, and Students for Justice in Palestine. It is being proposed by Mass Against HP (MAHP), a working group of Jewish Voice for Peace. These organizations actively cooperate with the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which, in the words of its leaders, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

  1. National and Massachusetts Leaders of the Left, Right and Center Reject BDS Initiatives
    BDS initiatives fuel polarization and strengthen those who reject co-existence. National leaders from the left, right and center reject BDS. They include Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Cory Booker, John Kerry, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Capuano, Joe Kennedy, Deval Patrick, and all 50 governors.

  2. The Cambridge City Council (CCC) Has Cynically Suppressed Open Public Debate
    Members of the CCC have collaborated with MAHP to introduce this highly politicized anti-Israel resolution. They have not reached out to interested community members to inform themselves and refused to share the resolution when asked. It will be released late Thursday afternoon, only two full business days before the council meets.

  3. Allegations That Justify the Reported Resolution Rest on Half Truths and Falsehoods
    MAHP argues that Israeli security measures, introduced after thousands of Israeli civilians were murdered and maimed by terrorists, are equivalent to apartheid. It is a hateful logic that undermines those who seek conciliation.

  4. Singling Out Israel Would Raise Troubling Questions About the Cambridge City Council’s Motives
    There are hundreds of American companies working overseas and engaged in transactions that could be tied to questionable human rights practices. Even were we to assume (and we don’t) that everything Israel’s detractors say is true, why would the CCC choose to single out Israel? As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explains, “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic … But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

  5. The Cambridge City Council Would Hold Israel to a Standard That It Does Not Apply to Itself
    In 2017, the CCC established a special relationship with Dongguan, China. Dongguan is a toy manufacturing center for Disney, Mattel and others. Human rights abuses against laborers in the Dongguan toy industry are well-documented. Yet, the CCC has said nothing about this. Should the CCC vote to boycott itself?

TAKE ACTION….This is a Numbers Game. To win this fight, we need a thousand voices to:

  • Inform ourselves by reviewing this fact sheet and the more detailed talking points.
  • Contact all 9 city council members and share your concern about this resolution.
  • Reach out to friends and neighbors. Forward this email and urge them to join you.
  • Contact your Rabbi or other organizational leaders and ask them to mobilize their membership.
  • Attend the hearing and bring concerned friends whether or not you choose to speak.
  • For information on signing up to speak at the April 23rd hearing (non-residents eligible), please contact the Cambridge City Council at 617-349-4280. We will provide additional information regarding online registration when it becomes available (likely late Thursday afternoon).

Community Alert: Cambridge City Council Hearing on Israel Boycott – Monday, April 23rd

    

 

 

On April 23rd, the Cambridge Massachusetts City Council is expected to consider a resolution that calls for the City “to end its contracts” with Hewlett-Packard (HP) until, according to the organizers, HP “ends their support for violence against and oppression of Palestinians, deportations and surveillance of immigrants in the U.S., and oppression and surveillance of those currently and formerly incarcerated in the U.S.”

This initiative is part of a larger global BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement that is, in significant part, dedicated to Israel’s delegitimization as the Jewish state. Groups backing this resolution have offered other justifications for the HP boycott, but it remains clear that this effort is designed primarily to target and delegitimize Israel.

As of today we have not seen a copy of the resolution. The rules of the Cambridge City Council do not require them to publish the resolution until 3pm Thursday, April 19th. While some members of the Council have seen a draft resolution, the proponent organizers have – we are told – shared it with them on the condition that it not be made public. This seems to us to be a cynical effort to prevent an honest and open public debate prior to a significant action by a public body.

We call upon our community to mobilize and take action.

For both residents and non-residents of Cambridge:

  • Mark your calendar: Make a commitment to be at Cambridge City Hall on Monday, April 23rd at 5:30pm to demonstrate your opposition to this resolution and to testify against it before the City Council. Your presence is important, even if you do not testify.

  • Anyone can testify; advance online registration is recommended. To receive notification (from us) when the Council’s online sign-up is live, and for other updates in the week ahead, let us know here.

  • Contact your friends – especially those in Cambridge. Share this alert and ask them to take action as well.

If you are a resident of Cambridge:

  • Contact the City Council and urge them to reject this effort to single out Israel for demonization. Please communicate to them respectfully but firmly and let them know that as someone who is concerned about the city you live in and its public image, this resolution will have implications beyond Hewlett-Packard and, if adopted, would tarnish the reputation of your city. You can find a comprehensive list of talking points here.

Now is the time to make your voice heard. We cannot underscore how important it is the members of the Cambridge City Council hear from our community about this. Together we can send the message: This action would be wrong for Cambridge and does not advance the prospects for achieving a lasting peace.

JCRC Statement on Events Along Gaza Border

We see the events along the Gaza-Israel border this weekend as the continuation of one of the great tragedies of our time. This is a situation where many are at fault, leaving individuals in impossible situations with impossible choices.

It is a tragedy for the people of Gaza that, 12 years after the complete withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, they live under such difficult conditions. It is a tragedy for the Palestinians that Gaza was taken over by Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist organization that rules in a brutal dictatorship. It is a tragedy that Hamas has chosen to direct its resources to the building of tunnels and rockets, rather than building hospitals, schools, housing, and factories that would create prosperity and opportunity for the Palestinian people. It is a tragedy that, by squandering the opportunity to build a better future for the Palestinian people, Hamas has forced Israel and Egypt to secure their own borders with a blockade to prevent the further weaponization of Gaza.

It is a tragedy that the Palestinian people of Gaza have no recourse against their leaders, living without elections or even the ability to protest those in power openly on pain of death. It is a tragedy that they are deceived by their own leaders with the unrealistic promise of a destructive victory over the State of Israel – a victory that will never come. It is a tragedy that their own government chooses to use them as human shields, perpetuating their suffering for nefarious self-interest.

It is a tragedy that the Israeli people look at Gaza and see the end of a dream; to live in peace with their neighbors. It is a tragedy that Israelis living near the border are terrorized by threats coming from tunnels under their homes and rockets over their schools. It is a tragedy that when Israelis do what any other nation in the world would do – protect their border from being overrun – that they endure a condemnation that no other nation would receive. It is a tragedy that Israelis experience this singling out as a further example of an isolation, their status as “the Jew amongst the nations,” with only themselves to protect their inalienable rights to live in security.

It is a tragedy because this weekend, young men and women of the Israel Defense Forces stared down the sights of their rifles and learned violence at a time when they should have been at home with their families celebrating freedom at the Passover table. It is a tragedy because Palestinians need some way to express their frustrations  at Israel and at their own government after years of wasted opportunities to build a better life for the people of Gaza. Instead they experienced more manipulation, and more loss.

We see this weekend as the continuation of a tragedy that has not brought the people of Israel and Gaza any closer to a future of peace and hope for all of their children. As the Boston Jewish community continues to celebrate the Passover holiday this week, we are mindful of the lessons learned at our seders, that we do not rejoice over the tragedy of others and we are ever hopeful for peace and stability for all people.

JCRC and MAJF Legislative Reception Attended by Baker, Polito, Healey, Goldberg

(Boston, MA) – On Monday, March 19, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) were joined by over 200 legislators, volunteers, community partners, and allies at our annual Legislative Reception at the State House to honor Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Eric Lesser, House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez, and Governor Baker’s legal counsel Lon Povich. Speakers at the event included Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka. For more photos, video clips, and other quotes, visit jcrcboston.org/events/legislative-reception-2018/.

“In politics, as in life, it is rare to get a room full of people agreeing on anything, but through our honorees, these leaders and our network of partners, a tableau of our communal values and priorities was eloquently presented. For those who read my messages so diligently each week, you already know about our work supporting immigrants and refugees, endorsing economic opportunity, demanding gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform, and promoting a strong Israel/Massachusetts relationship. However, while it is one thing hearing it from me, it is quite another to hear it straight from the podium by these leaders framed by the JCRC banner, where speaker after speaker emphasized these very values,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC.

Quotes from our Speakers:
“[During my first trip to Israel,] I was taught the Hebrew word for leadership has the same root as verbs like driving and mobilizing. And that is what I think about when I think about leadership and JCRC. The force that you have been for so long on so many important issues, whether it was supporting young people for promoting community service, advancing social justice, combating discrimination, reducing violence in all its forms, and working to protect our immigrant communities… I appreciate all that you have done to stand up for those who are vulnerable, always, those who are voiceless, often.”
Attorney General Maura Healey

“… As is often the case, until you actually stand [at the Western Wall] and have a chance to put your hands on it and to get a sense of how it breathes and the power of what it represents, I don’t think you can truly appreciate it… And I think that for me while this trip was about democracy and innovation and partnerships and all the rest, in that particular moment it was about faith and freedom and the opportunity to practice what for many people in many respects in the most important piece of which they identify themselves. And for the first time I really understood why having access to that Wall was so important to the Jewish community and to Israel.” – Governor Charlie Baker

“Throughout my speakership, I have known the JCRC to be politically engaged and active on many of the issues that are so important to me. It is a true honor for me to work side by side to make the Commonwealth a better place to live. Whether it is addressing gun violence, ending homelessness, combating and helping our seniors, it is has been my honor to work with JCRC every step of the way. With your input we have made significant strides in many of these areas.” – Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo

About Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at www.jcrcboston.org.

About the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations
MAJF is a statewide government affairs office that works to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials.

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JCRC and MAJF to Honor Four Remarkable Public Servants at State House Reception

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) will honor four dedicated public officials at the 20th Annual Legislative Reception on Monday, March 19 at the Massachusetts State House. To learn more and RSVP, visit jcrcboston.org/events/legislative-reception-2018/.

“We are honored to be presenting awards to four remarkable public servants who recognize that during times of great challenge, we must unite in our commitment to act on an urgent agenda; from civil rights to human services, economic opportunity to safety and security, supporting the vibrant MA-Israel partnership, and the protection of democratic values,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “A well-functioning society and a responsive government would not be possible without outstanding public servants like these four individuals, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Eric Lesser, Representative Jeff Sánchez, and General Counsel to Governor Baker Lon Povich.”

Governor Charles Baker, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem will be in attendance to congratulate the awardees.

This annual Legislative Reception celebrates the contributions of JCRC and MAJF’s partners in government, advocacy and the community. Awardees are chosen based on their leadership and contributions to our shared priorities. The annual JCRC Legislative Reception is the premier opportunity for leadership of the Jewish community to interact and develop relationships with state public officials, including members of the administration and the legislature.

“We are very pleased to recognize the work of our community’s partners in government who have allied with us to build a more just and inclusive Commonwealth,” commented Reception co-chairs Lisa Danetz and Eitan Milgram.

Sponsors for this year’s event are The Patriots Foundation and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

This year’s award recipients are:

  • Attorney General Maura Healey, Massachusetts, to be presented with the Excellence in Leadership Award
  • Senator Eric P. Lesser, First Hampden and Hampshire; Co-chair, Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, to be presented with the Legislative Leadership Award
  • Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, 5th Suffolk; Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means, to be presented with the Legislative Leadership Award
  • Lon Povich, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Baker, to be presented with the Executive Leadership Award

Click here to view the Award Recipients’ bios.

About Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC defines and advances the values, interests and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at www.jcrcboston.org.

About The Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations
MAJF is a statewide government affairs office that works to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials.
 

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JCRC is Deeply Disappointed by Decision to Refer S.1689/H.1685 “To Study”

JCRC is deeply disappointed by the decision of the Massachusetts Legislature’s State Administration and Regulatory Oversight (SARO) Committee to refer S.1689/H.1685 “to study.” This bipartisan legislation, An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts, is intended to ensure that those seeking to do business with the state affirm that they are in compliance with all Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws and that they do not refuse to do business with others based on immutable characteristics such as race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Much of the debate around this bill has taken place in the shadow of a national and state-by-state debate over so-called “anti-BDS” bills. Such bills are a vehicle for states to reject efforts to deny Israel’s right to exist. This noxious campaign uses economic, cultural, and academic warfare in an attempt to isolate Israelis and challenge the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. Even as JCRC supports efforts to reject the unjust assault on Israel’s legitimacy, we take note and emphasize again that the bill, as filed here in Massachusetts, does not shut down all boycott activity. Still, we understand from our allies that the national debate on this matter, along with a recent federal court ruling in Kansas, has had a chilling effect on the ability of people here in Massachusetts to consider this bill based on its face-value merits and impact.

S.1689/H.1685 merely allows the state to choose business partners who are in line with its own values. While opponents of the bill are entitled to their own views and are free to engage in boycotts based on national origin, race, or sexual orientation, the state, when acting as a market participant, does not have to subsidize those views. The Commonwealth is free to use its economic influence to send a message of its own disagreement. The so-called Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, when applied to Israeli nationals based solely on their national origin, is illustrative of the danger that groups can cloak themselves in the guise of a political boycott to unfairly target others simply based on who they are.

We take note that only days ago New York Governor Cuomo announced an executive order, largely paralleling the language of the Massachusetts bill, to prevent New York state from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination based on immutable characteristics. That order was embraced by many of the same actors who have opposed the Massachusetts bill. It does not escape our attention that some of the same people who vigorously urge government action to protect individuals based on immutable characteristics when those individuals are transgender (a view that we affirmatively support) are so vigorously opposed to the same action when some of those - such as us - promoting it are expressly concerned about discrimination against Israeli-Americans. We are left, once again, to wonder why an incremental step to fight discrimination in all its forms should draw such vociferous opposition by some on the radical fringe here in our Commonwealth.

Over the past two years, legislatures around the country and the world have taken up a range of approaches for rejecting BDS and those who wish to engage in discriminatory economic warfare against Israelis and Israeli-Americans.  JCRC again applauds the Massachusetts legislature for their unanimous expression, in October 2015, for the U.S.-Israel relationship and also for their rejection at that time of this campaign of delegitimization. That action, along with numerous others over the past several years, convey a clear message of support from our legislative leadership and reflects a deep bipartisan coalition in both houses. Our legislators have stated with one voice that effective engagement is the key to positive outcomes in the region.

At this time we want to particularly thank Senator Cynthia Creem and Representatives Paul McMurtry and Steven Howitt for their leadership in sponsoring S.1689/H.1685, as well as Senate Committee Chairman Walter Timilty, the many co-sponsors including nearly one-third of the legislature, and the members of the coalition in support of this bill. Despite the noise and the mischaracterizations, these individuals stood steadfast in support of the notion that the Commonwealth should reject discriminatory conduct in all its forms. To them, we are grateful.

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