Author: JCRC

Building Bridges with Muslim Leaders

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a weekend retreat of the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) of the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI). MLI was launched in 2013 under the co-leadership of Imam Abdullah Antepli, director of Muslim affairs at Duke University, and SHI senior fellow Yossi Klein Halevi. Over four years, four cohorts and some seventy participants, MLI has nourished a community of American Muslim leaders committed to understanding the complex religious and political issues we grapple with within the Jewish community.

Over the course of the weekend, I had opportunities to spend time with many of these leaders, engaging in honest conversations laden with both curiosity and tension. As we spoke, in quiet corners and over meals, I experienced their deep desire to understand my community, and an equal willingness to open themselves up to any questions I had about theirs. We talked politics, faith, culture; about hopes, dreams, and fears.

But most important, I found myself responding - to their deep and authentic desire to understand and connect - with my own authenticity, allowing myself to be vulnerable and honest.

At a retreat focused on coalition building, one theme from a teaching session by SHI’s Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer prompted my own reflections: a need to be clear, with ourselves and with our partners, about the imperatives that drive our work and our institutions. At JCRC, some of these would include our commitment to the national project of Jewish peoplehood including a Jewish state, and our will to speak and act with one voice as one community.

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a particular imperative that has long guided much of our work: the belief that the American Jewish community is best served – as we’ve been over many decades – when our nation is dedicated to equality of opportunity for all people. We all benefit, and as Jews we have thrived individually and as a community, in a free society dedicated to constitutional liberal democracy where freedoms – of press, of speech, of privacy – are cherished, and where the dignity of all people is protected. We are guided by the belief that only in a society with no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and no obstacles standing in the way of opportunity for every one of us is one, can we all truly thrive. We know too well that a culture that demonizes and marginalizes others threatens us as well.

It is this belief that has compelled JCRC to work on civil rights issues, on criminal justice reform, and – long before I came to Boston – on women’s and LGBTQ equality.

At this moment, when such a vision of our nation seems challenged in so many ways, this strategic imperative to defend the American idea of a democracy has risen, for us, to a place of necessity and urgency. And engaging in these honest conversations with Muslim leaders, I could not help but think of the urgent necessity for the mainstreams of our two communities – the two largest faith minorities in this country - to stand together to meet this challenge.

I’ve experienced firsthand those in each of our communities who want to keep us apart, who focus on the extremes and the challenges that divide us. But this week, not for the first time, I am reminded that there are many who seek to build bridges between us.

In this moment of challenge for our nation, surely the bridge builders - those who seek to hold the centers of our two communities and to bind them to each other where we can in a shared interest – can, if they choose, be stronger than those who work to keep us apart. This is not simple or straightforward work, and I don’t say this naively. But when I see the work being done by this group at MLI, the relationships, the commitment, the honesty, I know that more is possible and that we have a role to play in supporting this work. And if we have a role to play, surely we have a responsibility to do what we can to meet this urgent moment.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

P.S., for another feature on the solidarity between Boston's Jewish and Muslim communities, read the piece in Friday's Boston Globe.

A Two-State Solution is Still the Answer

Much has and will be said about the meeting this week between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. There are elements of this important engagement that should receive broad welcome in the organized Jewish community, such as the strong affirmation by the President that the United States will work to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon. There are also elements that should provoke broad dismay, such as the President’s decision to once again sidestep the opportunity to clearly and unequivocally denounce the rising tide of anti-Semitism that has generated so much fear within the American Jewish community.

For now I’ll focus on one specific element of the meeting –the President’s assertion that he can “live with” a one-state peace agreement “if Israel and the Palestinians are (both) happy.”

The organized American Jewish community – and the U.S. government - has long been committed to achieving, through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, a durable peace via a two-state solution. This framework is rooted in two guiding principles:

  1. That we – as a community and a country - share the Zionist and national aspirations of the Jewish people for a state of our own – Jewish, secure and democratic – in the land of Israel.
  2. That only the Israeli people – not the global Jewish community or world bodies - through their own democratic process, can decide what risks they will accept for this peace, what borders they can live with, what security guarantees they need.

The hard truth is that Israelis are justified when they worry about security guarantees in a two-state agreement. Just this week we were reminded that 24 Hamas members have died in the last year alone while building tunnels under Gaza. This serves as a stark reminder that securing the far longer border and preventing attacks from a West Bank state will be a serious challenge.  Advocates for a two-state solution need to address this challenge if we expect the Israeli majority to embrace an agreement. But those who resist a two-state agreement also have to answer a question: Is there any other realistic option, over the long term, that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state?

This is not to say that a two-state agreement can be reached tomorrow or even in the near future, but it is urgent that the potential for achieving it not be lost to the dustbin of history. We certainly believe that the solution cannot be imposed on the people who will have to live with it. But to anyone who will not say, definitively, that the goal of a durable peace can only be achieved with two states, we must ask:

So then what?

If you aren’t working for two-states, then you’ve opened the door to one-state. If that is a state that the Palestinians would be “happy” with, per our President’s framing, i.e. presumably a democratic state – then you’ve opened the door to an option that would hasten the end of the Jewish state. If that one-state solution would be an undemocratic state, then presumably it would not make the Palestinians happy, nor would it bring the peace that President Trump says he wants to achieve (not to mention the opprobrium it would receive from much of the world and much of the global Jewish community).

Make no mistake: The President opened the door to a U.S. policy where he would be “happy” with an outcome that is nothing less than a departure from the national aspirations of the Jewish people – a state of our own, Jewish, secure and democratic.

Thankfully, major voices within the organized American Jewish community are not accepting this departure. The ADL responded to the meeting by saying that a “mutually negotiated two state solution is critical to ensure Israel remains a Jewish and democratic state. (The) One state approach undermines this.”  AJC said that “the alternative of a one-state reality is simply untenable and, therefore, a non-starter – an abrogation of the Zionist ideal of a Jewish and democratic state.”

We will not and cannot let the door to a two-state solution slam shut. We will continue to act, as a pro-Israel community, in support of the two-state solution. And we will support Israelis and Palestinians on the ground who are working to maintain the viability of this option.

Last November, I said that the recent election has not changed the shared values of our Jewish community and JCRC.  Those values include our commitment to the national aspirations of the Jewish people. We will keep working for two-states because the alternative is not an option for us, even if it is an option for the President.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

Moving Beyond the Chaos: Guidelines for Action | A Message from our Senior Synagogue Organizer

While Jeremy is in Israel for professional development opportunities, we offer some post-election reflections from our Senior Synagogue Organizer, Rachie Lewis.

Since the election, we at JCRC have been immersed in conversations across our community as we struggle to understand the meaning of this political moment. We have reached out to JCRC board members, rabbis, synagogue leaders long involved in the work of social justice, and young adults who have generally shied away from traditional, Jewish institutions, but now realize the power of doing so. We’ve listened to the concerns of our organizational partners as they address emerging threats on the ground. Together, we are writing a new chapter in the story of who we are as a community, and how we act in the world.

In this new chapter, we can sense that the stakes are higher and that, as Elliot Cohen - a former member of the George W. Bush administration - wrote, “it’s not getting better.” That means this work isn’t going to be comfortable, and it’s certainly not going to be easy. But these days, our community appears ready to do more than we have before. We are showing up in unprecedented numbers to participate. We are resisting the familiar need to know every answer and every outcome before we act. Our social media feeds simply announce a public gathering, and we spring into action.

But amidst the chaos, we know we need to focus. We cannot fight every battle. But how do we decide where to focus our energies? How, in this moment, can we as a Jewish Community Relations Council best represent our community’s values and interests, and meet our responsibilities to our partners in the broader community?

Here are some suggested values to guide our actions.

Many of us feel a deep kinship with today’s marginalized communities. Our instincts tell us that no matter where our ancestors came from, our histories are tied up with those of the Central American immigrants taking tremendous risks in search of a better life for themselves and their families; they are tied up with the histories of refugees fleeing war-torn countries in the hope of the protection and promise of the United States; they are tied up with the stories of those directly threatened by the erosion of civil rights. And, we must also acknowledge that, along with other minorities, we now share the experience of heightened vulnerability, as expressions and acts of hate spike, and as bomb threats to Jewish institutions have become a fact of daily life. So, any action we take must reflect the immediate and pressing needs of our own Jewish community and those of our partners.

We know, deep in our bones, that Jewish life depends on laws, it always has. Our history has shown that Jewish life thrives in a functioning democracy that extends freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of due process to all its residents. When these freedoms fail, we are at risk of going down with them.

The outrage that so many of us feel is not limited to isolated acts of injustice and discrimination; it is a reaction to the flurry of nails thrown into the machinery of our republic, threatening the whole system.  Our acts of kindness matter, we know we must be our most generous selves these days. But we also feel an urgent need for bolder and more ambitious action, with more far reaching results, when we sense our democracy being threatened.

Finally, we are drawn to action that will realize the potential to grow into a broader, and more diverse, Jewish communal base, that can act powerfully as one body, in pursuit of our common goals, especially when it matters most. This is a time to unite – a time to close generational gaps; for younger Jews to benefit from the resources, relationships and experience of our elders, and for more established leaders to learn new tools from the younger generation for the challenges we face.

We are writing a new story because, if we can unite across different interests and backgrounds, a bold and strategic Greater Boston Jewish Community will play a critical role in standing up to the threats of the moment. This work will not be easy, it will require some risk, but if we don’t do it, we know there are consequences to standing still.

Sign up for alerts about post-election engagement opportunities and join us in taking action.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rachie

JCRC Statement of Concern about Knesset Outpost Bill

Late Monday evening, Israel's Knesset adopted legislation to legitimize previously unrecognized Jewish outposts in areas beyond the Green Line. JCRC of Greater Boston joins the AJC and ADL in expressing significant concerns about this action by the Knesset.

This controversial decision moves Israel further away from the only feasible path to peace; a two-state solution. JCRC has long supported a negotiated two-state solution, a position which is consistently shown by polls to be supported by most Israelis. We are deeply disappointed by this legislation, which has been met with criticism from many in Israel, including the attorney general who has described it as unconstitutional and in contravention of international law. We hope that Israel takes meaningful steps to enable the realization of two states for two people living side-by-side in peace.

End Discrimination in the Commonwealth

While Jeremy is in Israel for professional development opportunities, we offer some reflections on an important legislative priority from our Director of Government Affairs, Aaron Agulnek.

At the beginning of every two-year legislative session in the Commonwealth, upwards of 7,000 bills are filed by Senators and Representatives, covering almost every issue imaginable (and likely, many that you may not have known were even issues). Each year we consult with our partners, networks of allies and legislative champions to identify where to focus our attention amongst the competing priorities. Our process is guided by the interests of the organized Jewish community, the opportunities to deepen ties with our allies, and our mandate to move an agenda that promotes a more inclusive and just Commonwealth. This is often an imperfect science, and requires focus on what is moving and where our voice is needed.

This year, one piece of legislation we are supporting is HD779/SD922 An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts (PDF). Filed by Senators Cindy Creem, Representative Paul McMurtry and Representative Steven Howitt, it is currently supported by a bipartisan coalition of over 50 co-sponsors. While we have a longstanding commitment to oppose discrimination in any form, this current political climate compels us to ensure that discrimination is not subsidized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the basis of who somebody is.

So, what exactly does this bill do? At it's core, this legislation is another step forward in Massachusetts' leading commitment to the principle of anti discrimination. First, that anyone seeking to do business with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must affirm that they are in compliance with the Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Laws, which prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, based on someone’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation; second, that they will not refuse to do business with someone based solely on these same immutable traits. To put it simply, if you want to enjoy business with the state, don’t discriminate.

Joined by 38 other local Jewish organizations, We recently issued a statement expressing our grave concern about recent Executive Orders on immigration and refugees, one of which banned refugees from seven targeted countries from coming to the United States. We all witnessed the incredible harm that discrimination based on national origin can wreak on individuals and society as a whole. The Anti-Discrimination legislation, if enacted into law, seeks to prevent the very damage such divisive acts inflict and would make it clear that people who seek to contract with the state cannot refuse to do business with another simply because of their nation of origin.

This bill also protects LGBTQ business owners who face threats of boycotts of their businesses, solely because of who they are. It protects women-owned businesses, Muslim-owned businesses, Asian-owned businesses, African-American owned businesses, and yes, Israeli owned businesses, from being discriminated against based on who they are.

In the face of bigotry, delegitimization, and forces that seek to define and judge people based on who they are, rather than what they do, we stand up and say that this invidious discrimination has no place in the Commonwealth.

Please visit JCRC’s Action Alert and let your Senators and Representatives know that our Commonwealth should not subsidize those who seek to tear our communities apart and thank those who have already signed on. We are stronger when we stand together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Aaron

Communal Joint Statement on Immigration and Refugees

“We Must Not Close Our Doors”

In response to the executive orders this past week on immigration and separately regarding refugees, we, the undersigned Boston Jewish religious, philanthropic, civic and human service organizations come together to say that these actions - which are causing anxiety, pain and anguish throughout immigrant communities and our nation – are unjust.  We stand together on the side of empathy and religious tolerance and we urge the administration to open the gates of compassion to those seeking safety, regardless of their faith or country of origin.

We urge our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to do everything in their legal authority to protect our foreign born neighbors throughout the Commonwealth. We urge our community and others to join together and work to ensure that the United States does not close our doors to immigrants and refugees. We urge our government to maintain and expand a policy of responsible leadership for the protection and resettlement of refugee families, including in the United States and including innocent civilians fleeing the horrors in Syria.

The Torah warns against the wronging of a stranger (Ger) in thirty-six places. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks takes note that “there is something striking about this almost endlessly iterated concern for the stranger – together with the historical reminder that “you yourselves were slaves in Egypt.” Sacks goes on:

  “Why should you not hate the stranger? – asks the Torah. Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you… I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the color of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image – says God – they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.”

At the current moment, Jewish Vocational Service is serving some five hundred refugee clients in Boston, many of whom are waiting to be reunited with family members. Jewish Family Service of Metrowest is leading a collaboration of area synagogues to resettle refugee families with young children, with additional families - including Syrian Muslims and Ukrainian Jews -already screened, approved and ready to arrive in the coming weeks. All of these families are experiencing a great deal of anxiety and pain, and, for those who may be prevented from arriving, the potential for additional great suffering. The organized Jewish community of Boston and our human service agencies remain committed to our work in service to these families and their needs.

We share the belief that it is long past time for our nation to enact comprehensive immigration reform. We affirm our commitment to work for reform that maintains our commitment to being a welcoming nation that does not close its doors to immigrants, that addresses border security, and that provides a path to normalization of the status of those already living here – the overwhelming majority of whom share the same desires as every generation of American immigrant and refugee families; safety, security and the opportunity to pursue the promise of the American Dream for themselves and their children. We believe that the United States has the moral responsibility and the capacity to welcome at least as many refugees as we have been doing in recent years, with appropriate and diligent screening.

The approach to addressing these issues that was announced this past week is rooted in a rhetoric of fear and demonization and a policy that treats human beings around the world – including endangered refugees, many of whom are children who are suffering in devastating conditions - as an enforcement problem. We believe that these issues must be approached as a humanitarian matter, with a commitment to the dignity and welfare of all peoples.

Our community knows all too well the suffering that comes when America turns away refugees. We have experienced first-hand the extraordinary contributions that we as immigrants and the children of immigrants have brought to the American endeavor by adding to the prosperity and creativity of our nation. As Jews we came to this country often fleeing danger and oppression, and often we were unwelcome and discriminated against upon our arrival. We came to pursue our hopes, to practice our faith freely, and to realize the promise of America. We must not close our doors to those around the world who seek these same opportunities today.

We reject any effort to shut our nation’s doors on the most vulnerable. We recommit ourselves to the work of protecting and advancing the dignity of all human beings and to preventing suffering in this world.

Undersigned

AJC New England
Anti-Defamation League, New England Region
Boston Jewish Film Festival
Boston Workmen's Circle
Brown students for Israel
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Congregation Dorshei Tzedek
The David Project
Gateways: Access to Jewish Education
Hadassah Northeast
Hebrew College
Hebrew Senior Life
Hillel Council of New England
J Street
JCC Greater Boston
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Jewish Arts Collaborative
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters
Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly
Jewish Community Relations  Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Family and Children's Services
Jewish Family Service of Metrowest
Jewish Labor Committee, New England
Jewish Vocational Service
JUMP (Justice and Unity in Mideast Policy)
Keshet
Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center
Minyan Kol Rinah
Moishe Kavod House
New Israel Fund
Synagogue Council of Massachusetts
Temple Beth Avodah, Newton
Temple Beth Shalom of Needham
Temple Emunah, Lexington
Temple Israel of Boston
Temple Shalom of Newton
Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester
Tufts Hillel
Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture
Yad Chessed Fund, Inc.

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We Stand Together Against Discrimination

Boston, MA (January 25, 2017) – Today, An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts was filed by sponsors Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) in a bipartisan effort to prohibit discrimination in state contracts system of Massachusetts.

“This bill harnesses the economic influence of our state to strengthen existing anti-discrimination laws and ensure that the state does not unwittingly use tax payer funds to subsidize discriminatory conduct,” said JCRC Director of Government Affairs Aaron Agulnek. “It would also require anyone applying for a state contract to certify that they are in compliance with Massachusetts laws prohibiting discrimination and that they will not discriminate against another in the business context based on the targeted individual’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

“After meeting with parties on all sides of this issue, I am filing this bill which simply prevents the state from contracting with parties who fail to affirm that they will abide by the state’s anti-discrimination laws – including those that prevent discrimination based on national origin” said Senator Cynthia Creem (D. Newton).  “I believe this bipartisan legislation protects individual rights, while also sending a strong message that Massachusetts will not do business with those engaging in discrimination.”

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this legislation that prevents discrimination in state contracts,” said Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham). “This important and meaningful legislation will move our economy forward while preventing further discrimination based on divisive labels that have no bearing on business in the Commonwealth.”

“This is a proud moment where the legislature can stand together in support of Israel” said Representative Steven Howitt. “This bill clarifies to businesses that either support BDS or who boycott Israeli-owned businesses and products that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not engage in commerce with them. I look forward to its quick passage.”

This consensus bill has garnered wide support representing a broad consensus of Jewish communal organizations.

Under this law, BDS boycotts targeting Israeli business owners based solely on national origin would be considered discrimination. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Executive Director, Andrea Levin said: "We strongly commend this important bipartisan bill that underscores Massachusetts will act against discriminatory treatment of Israel. We're proud that our state joins others in this vital national effort."  The proposed legislation supports the Commonwealth’s historic commitment to fighting discrimination and ensures that those engaging in discriminatory conduct will not reap the benefit of a state contract.

“J Street welcomes legislation under consideration by the Massachusetts state legislature designed to prohibit the state government from contracting with businesses that engage in discriminatory boycotts on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation” said J Street New England Regional Director, Shaina Wasserman. “We believe that it is important to stand up against discrimination in all its forms, including, of course, anti-Semitism and discrimination against Israelis.

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director, Robert O. Trestan, added:

“This legislation recognizes and rejects the insidious and destructive nature of BDS campaigns. We hope this legislative initiative will serve as an important catalyst that eliminates discrimination when it comes to doing business with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

The legislation recognizes the strength of the Massachusetts-Israel economic partnership and assures both Israeli and Massachusetts businesses owners, entrepreneurs and investors that the Commonwealth is truly open for businesses.

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JCRC To Name Stacey Bloom as First Vice President of Board of Directors

The Governance Committee of JCRC is pleased to announce that Stacey Bloom has agreed to accept our nomination as the First Vice President of JCRC. We look forward to presenting her nomination to the Council for election this spring.

"I'm excited and honored to take on this new role at JCRC next year,” said Stacey. “I look forward to working with Jeremy, the board, the council and our community partners to advance JCRC's mission and continue JCRC's important work.  There will be many new challenges in the coming years and JCRC is ready to meet them.”

Pursuant to our bylaws, this nomination anticipates that Stacey Bloom will be nominated and elected as the next President of JCRC in 2018, succeeding Adam Suttin.

As many of you know, Stacey is a long-time leader at JCRC. In addition to chairing JCRC’s Israel and Global Jewry committee, Stacey has also served on our Membership committee. Her engagement in the Jewish community goes well beyond JCRC. Stacey currently serves on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies Strategic Israel Engagement Commission, and has served as Combined Jewish Philanthropies Young Leadership Board’s campaign chair. She is also a former member of the AJC New England Board of Directors and co-chair of CJP’s Young Lawyers Committee.

“I’m very excited to pass board leadership to Stacey next year as I have seen her passion for the JCRC mission since she joined the board in 2012,” said Board President Adam Suttin. “Stacey brings a clarity of thought and communication that allow her to navigate challenging topics and develop consensus to bring our community together.”

Chuck Koplik, Chair of the Governance Committee, said "Stacey is an inspired leader who has had her hand in many of the key decisions within JCRC. Her thoughtful leadership of the Israel and Global Jewry Committee, her commitment to an inclusive, forward-thinking agenda, and her dedication to our community’s values will guide the organization, both lay and professional, over the next several years.”

Stacey is also a dedicated public servant and leader in civil society. She is an Assistant General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, the juvenile justice agency of the Commonwealth. Prior to joining DYS, Stacey served for eight years as Assistant General Counsel to numerous Massachusetts municipalities. She began her career as a prosecutor in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office and also served as General Counsel to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Criminal Justice. She is a past president of the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association.

JCRC Urges Withdrawal or Veto of U.N. Security Council Resolution

JCRC of Greater Boston believes that, based on a review of the available draft, the resolution to be considered by the UN Security Council this afternoon presents a too broad, un-nuanced, and unproductive approach to Israel's construction and settlement beyond the Green Line.

We do not feel that this resolution - as drafted and considered in such a hasty and secretive manner - is a productive contribution to the pursuit of the negotiated two-state resolution for peace that we cherish. We urge the sponsors to withdraw the resolution, and the United States to veto it - as the Obama administration  has done in the past on similar resolutions.

Boston JCRC Statement Regarding Nomination of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

The announcement of David Friedman as United States Ambassador-designate to Israel has been received with much discussion and diverse reactions within our community.

Many within the organized Jewish community find cause to be hopeful that the coming administration presents an opportunity to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Not least of the reasons for this optimism are President-Elect Trump’s repeated declarations of concern for Israel’s security and his valuing of Israel as a close ally of the United States. Additionally, President-Elect Trump has, on several occasions, talked of his desire to help negotiate a resolution to the conflict for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

JCRC believes that it is the prerogative of any President to appoint qualified cabinet members and ambassadors who will advance his or her priorities and agenda. Still, the expressed views and activities on a range of matters by David Friedman raise serious questions about whether he can and will effectively advance the United States’ long held commitment to a two-state resolution.

For over two decades it has been the bipartisan policy of the United States government, of the government of Israel – including the current Prime Minister – and of JCRC and our organized Jewish community to work for a two-state solution. Whether President-Elect Trump supports a two-state solution, or believes that an ambassador who does not share his commitment to same can still carry out U.S. policy, is a matter of vital concern.  We urge the Senate to clarify this issue during Mr. Friedman’s confirmation hearings.

We take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the organized Jewish community of Boston to achieving a two-state solution - to be achieved through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians - as the only viable approach that will ensure Israel's security and future as a Jewish and democratic state. The realization of this goal may take time but it is dependent on keeping this option viable. JCRC will continue to devote our own efforts to expanding the potential for achieving it. JCRC will therefore oppose any change in U.S. policy that moves our nation away from support for achieving a two-state resolution.

Additionally, JCRC believes that it is intolerable that any representative of the United States - particularly one who would represent our nation to the Jewish state - could and does refer to members of our Jewish community as “worse than Kapos” or “not Jewish.” Further, we know that the Middle East is a tinderbox which can burst into flames at the slightest provocation. What is needed now is a strong, judicious ambassador who knows how to facilitate conciliation; not someone who will fuel polarization and heighten conflict.  Mr. Friedman has the right to his opinions, but his injudicious readiness to express them and his stubborn refusal to step back from them and issue a clear, public and unqualified apology, suggests a danger that he will pose to U.S. interests in the region if his nomination is approved. We urge our Senators to address this matter during the confirmation process.

 

Jeremy Burton             Adam Suttin       Beth Badik
Executive Director     President            Chair, Israel and Global Jewry Committee