ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) are pleased to support S2557, An Act concerning genocide education, as reported by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means this afternoon. We are grateful to Chair Rodrigues and his team for their leadership on this strong bill that achieves key objectives in providing schools across the Commonwealth with access to resources to implement genocide education programs. Through lessons about the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other instances of genocide, such programs will serve to ensure that students learn to recognize and fight hate in their communities.
Genocide education is key to combating hate by helping students understand how seemingly benign stereotypes and prejudice can turn into atrocity. Over the last several years, we have seen a significant rise in hateful incidents in our communities, paired with a dangerous downturn in knowledge about the Holocaust and other genocides. We appreciate the support of the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education in moving this legislation forward early in session and hope to see it make its way to Governor Baker’s desk as swiftly as possible.
Statement from Jewish Community Relations Councils on Congressional Funding of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System
September 23, 2021
As Jewish Community Relations Councils deeply committed to a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we thank the 420 Members of Congress who voted to fully fund the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. This overwhelming bipartisan vote demonstrates the commitment of the United States to upholding the special relationship with Israel and reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself. We are deeply disappointed with those Members from our own delegations who failed to support this uniquely bipartisan vote.
The Iron Dome determines which rockets are likely to hit civilian areas and attempts to destroy them mid-air, thus saving lives. Without the Iron Dome, rockets launched by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terror organizations would surely maim and murder countless additional Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians, as well as Palestinians. Simply put, Iron Dome limits severe escalation of the conflict on a near-daily basis.
Objecting to funding this purely defensive technology reveals an attempt to further isolate and delegitimize Israel. We are proud that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans are committed to funding the Iron Dome.
Jewish Community Relations Council of Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas Jewish Community Relations Council of New York Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee of Detroit
As many of you are aware, Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Noginski was attacked and stabbed on the street outside the Shaloh House in Brighton this afternoon.
Rabbi Noginski has been taken to the hospital and is undergoing treatment. Police have arrested the suspected attacker. The motive remains unclear, and an investigation is ongoing. We are working closely with Boston Police to get answers and ensure that our community is protected.
CJP’s Director of Communal Security has visited the site of the incident and the hospital, and we are in contact with the local police and law enforcement. We have spoken with Rabbi Noginski’s family, as well as with Rabbi Rodkin, the leader of Shaloh House, who appreciates all the support he is already receiving from the community.
As a community, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. If one of us feels vulnerable, we all are vulnerable. We will not be silent, and we will be there together. In this spirit, we are planning a community gathering for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on the Brighton Common, 30 Chestnut Hill Avenue, to come together and show our support for the rabbi, his family, and community. More details soon, and we will update information here as it becomes available. Please join us.
With prayers for Rabbi Noginski’s full and speedy recovery,
Rabbi Marc Baker, Combined Jewish Philanthropies Jeremy Burton, Jewish Community Relations Council Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League
It is utterly shocking that a member of the Massachusetts Senate would elevate Hamas as a legitimate actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There can be absolutely no moral equivalence between the State of Israel - an American ally, whatever criticisms one may hold about that nation’s government - and Hamas, a designated foreign terror organization, by both the United States and European Union, that is funded and supported by the regime in Iran and whose charter explicitly calls for the elimination of the State of Israel.
The legitimization of a designated terrorist organization by an elected official is irresponsible and should be a matter of grave concern to all residents of our Commonwealth and to his colleagues. We insist that Senator Eldridge clarify his views.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) actively supports efforts to achieve Palestinian national aspirations through peaceful means. We are wholly committed to realizing the full equality of all Israel’s citizens. Conversations about the relationship of “occupation” between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people are important and we embrace those challenging conversations.
JCRC has reached out to Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge to request an opportunity to discuss our concerns regarding his statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite our long relationship with Senator Eldridge he has not, at this time, responded to our request, nor did he make any attempt to be in dialogue with us prior to issuing his statement.
Update – June 10, 2021, 4pm
We welcome Senator Jamie Eldridge’s statement of clarification today, including, specifically, regarding his understanding of the terrorist organization Hamas. We thank the Senator for the discussion we had today, and we look forward to being in continued dialogue with him about how to advance our shared commitment to achieving a secure and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.
Last night, the Cambridge City Council overwhelmingly rejected an order that would have singled out Israel by boycotting city purchases of products made by Hewlett Packard, which also sells technology to Israel.
The decision came after more than seven hours of testimony on Monday night. Our community was mobilized and energized to push back against a one-sided narrative presented a week earlier, when the motion was first debated during the Shavuot holiday. After action alerts and social media blasts, more than 150 people argued live (on Zoom) against the measure, while an additional 250 Cambridge residents signed on to provide joint testimony that was read to the City Council. Our Jewish community — including CJP and JCRC volunteers, Israeli Americans, business leaders, interfaith leaders, and many others — ensured that Cambridge would not allow Israel to be delegitimized, marginalized, or maligned by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks Israel’s destruction.
As many speakers and City Council Members noted, the BDS battle pitted neighbor against neighbor and divided the Cambridge community. Instead of building bridges and creating understanding — the groundwork for peace — BDS “drives a wedge even deeper,” said Council Member Marc McGovern.
We thank the partners who have co-led this effort and worked tirelessly to call out anti-Israel hate and bigotry — the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Israeli American Council and StandWithUs — as well as the local organizations and congregations in Cambridge who mobilized their members. This was a collaborative effort and a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work together.
We also commend the members of the Cambridge City Council who tabled the discussion on Shavuot to accommodate the religious needs of some in our community, and who saw through this effort that sought to make Cambridge the first city in the United States to embrace virulently anti-Israel BDS.
The fight against the BDS movement has grown as its proponents have become bolder, more organized, and more sophisticated than ever before. It’s up to us to remain vigilant, to push back against Israel hate, and call out this divisive tactic whenever and wherever we see it.
We have tremendous work ahead — thank you for your support and partnership.
We need your help and your voice to confront a one-sided effort to delegitimize Israel in Cambridge.
This coming Monday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m., the Cambridge City Council is expected to complete debate and vote on a BDS measure.
On Monday, as Jews commemorated Shavuot, the Cambridge City Council held a hearing that would order the city’s purchasing department to, “review corporate contracts and identify any companies that are in violation of Cambridge’s policy on discrimination, including (but not limited to) Hewlett Packard … over their role in abetting apartheid in the Middle East…to ensure that the city embody the values it put on paper.”
That this proposal is even considered in Cambridge brings up disturbing questions of why Israel – and no other nation in the world – is the target of sanctions and why a hearing, which could have been held any Monday night of the year, was debated during a Jewish holiday.
If you are a Cambridge resident, please consider submitting written testimony or being prepared to testify live during the virtual meeting (see details about testifying and suggested talking points here). If you’re not a resident, and have friends or business interests in the city, please forward this alert and urge them to speak out.
Instructions for Speaking at Cambridge City Council:
1. Starting tomorrow, May 21, at 9 a.m., you may register to speak by clicking this link. Instructions including the agenda numbers will be updated on this website as soon as the information is available.
2. Registration to speak closes on Monday, May 24 at 6 p.m. Please register in advance.
3. For more information on signing on to speak or to view the City Council meeting on May 24 at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom, click here.
You will be allowed only two minutes to speak. Time is strictly limited. You will be cut off by if you go over two minutes. Prepare your comments in advance to ensure that you adhere to the time limit.
Participation is by voice only; you will not be on video.
Make your comments personal and from the heart.
Do not spend too much time focusing on the situation in Israel. Focus on the issue in Cambridge and how it affects you, your business, your family, etc.
On May 17th the Cambridge City Council (CCC) held a hearing to advance a BDS initiative. Policy Order 2021 #109 directs the city manager to “review corporate contracts and identify any companies that are in violation of Cambridge’s policy on discrimination, including (but not limited to) Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Hewlett Packard Incorporated over their role in abetting apartheid in the Middle East.” The target of this resolution is Israel. Here are things to know.
Cambridge Residents: In lieu of testifying, you can sign on to this letter detailing your opposition. The letter will be presented to the City Council during the meeting to demonstrate the strong opposition by Cambridge residents to this resolution.
Encourage your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others in your network who are Cambridge residents to sign this letter by sharing this email with them.
You can also submit written testimony to the entire City Council by way of email
Please make sure to indicate when signing up or emailing that you are addressing POR 2021 #109 on the May 24th
1. The CCC Proceeded with the Hearing with Full Knowledge That Many Jews Would Be Excluded
The Cambridge City Council proceeded with a hearing on the resolution after having been notified, days in advance, that many interested parties would not be able to attend due to observance of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Councilor Zondervan communicated that he supported disenfranchising Jews in stating, “I appreciate that it is the Shavuot holiday, but last week it was Eid. That didn’t seem to prevent the Israeli government from bombing and evicting and terrorizing Palestinian people.” We are grateful to Councilor Patricia Nolan, who stepped in to ensure that the actual vote would be deferred until Monday May 24th. We hope that others will speak to the apparent readiness to disenfranchise Jews.
2. The CCC Resolution is a Sham
According to the City of Cambridge’s assistant city manager for finance, it has been nearly seven (7) years since Cambridge has had a direct purchase order with Hewlett Packard. In other words, the resolution is addressing “a problem” that does not exist. It is a sham, whose only purpose is to demonize Israel.
3. Singling Out Israel and Holding It to a Unique Ethical Standard Raises Troubling Questions
There are hundreds of American companies that are working overseas and engaged in transactions that could be tied to questionable human rights practices. Examples include energy companies like Aramco in Saudi Arabia (persecution of religious minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ community) and technology and consumer companies like AppleandFoxconn in China (child and slave labor). Why is the CCC focused only on a company that does business with Israel? This focus on Israel betrays a deeper and concerning animus to the world’s only Jewish state.
4. CCC Proposes to Hold HP and Israel to a Standard It Does Not Apply to Cambridge Based Companies
If the CCC is intent on disassociating itself from companies that violate human rights then it need not trouble itself with events halfway around the world. A March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, for example, cited 82 major corporations that have items in their supply chain created by Uyghur slave labor. Some of these are prominent tech and retail companies with large offices and stores in Cambridge (we are glad to provide additional information). Other companies with stores in Cambridge are selling merchandise from companies that reportedly have product made with Uyghur slave labor in their supply chain. Is the City of Cambridge concerned that it may be doing business with these companies? Might the City of Cambridge be extending benefits to some of these companies? Have members of the CCC paused to ask these questions?
5. The Accusation that Israel Practices Apartheid is False and Malicious
Like with other BDS initiatives, the primary purpose for proceeding with Policy Order 2021 #109 is to advance false and malicious ideas that will serve to delegitimize Israel. BDS has been rejected by everyone from Joe Biden and Barak Obama to Cory Booker, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Kennedy, Jamal Bowman and governors from all 50 states. Yet, proponents continue to try to advance their claims by cherry picking data to support extreme and unsubstantiated claims. Here is what they will not tell you.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy that provides equal rights to all its citizens.
Palestinian leaders continue to advocate for Israel's annihilation (read the Hamas Charter).
The Palestinian Authority supports incitement and terrorism by providing lifetime pensions to families of “martyrs,” who have murdered Israeli civilians.
Israeli policies in the West Bank are primarily motivated by security concerns arising from the sustained violence that has resulted in the murder and maiming of thousands of Israelis. These policies can be the subject of honest debate, but it is a false and malign distortion to suggest they are racially motivated, much less akin to apartheid. Resolutions that advance such ideas distort the reality on the ground and provide cover to groups like Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group that rejects peace and co-existence with Israel on any terms. This is a dubious role for an American city.
6. One Sided BDS Narratives Undermine Prospects for Peace
BDS initiatives, such as the one now under consideration, are deceptive and misleading. They spread false malign information about Israel, fuel polarization, and strengthen the hands of those who reject peaceful co-existence. In this time of heightened tensions, we might hope that elected leaders would seek ways to promote engagement and reconciliation. The CCC, however, is contemplating a different path, one that will further inflame tensions and foster division. The vehicle for this is a resolution that ignores one side’s commitment to violence and its contempt for peace, while conveying a false view of the actions and views of the other. The losers of such hubris are always the Palestinians and Israelis, who hope for a new day where peace is possible. The City of Cambridge can be part of the solution or pour fuel on the fire. Which will it be?
After a seven-month process culminating in a vote tonight, the membership of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston has rejected the petition to remove the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) from the Council. The vote was 40 to expel, 48 against (with 10 abstentions). In order for the vote to pass, JCRC bylaws required a two-thirds majority of the members present. In a separate vote, the membership adopted a resolution (below) to clarify the bylaws as to what would constitute a member organization being out of alignment with JCRC’s mission.
The vote to expel was in response to a petition filed in September 2020 by some of JCRC’s members and individuals on the Council. After the petition was filed, the Membership Committee began a comprehensive review, including numerous interviews with both the petitioners and ZOA; reviews of documents, social media posts and public comments; and analysis of our membership requirements, all in keeping with our bylaws and stated protocols. Based on the thoughtful and diligent work of the Membership Committee, the JCRC Board endorsed the recommendation of the Membership Committee not to expel ZOA and that recommendation was presented to the Council. However, as required by our bylaws, it was the Council members through the voting process, who ultimately choose the path forward.
By a vote of 66 in favor, and 10 against (with 10 abstentions), the membership voted to adopt a resolution to clarify the bylaws as to what would constitute a member organization being out of alignment with JCRC’s mission to “promote an American society which is democratic, pluralistic, and just.”
Resolved, that the JCRC of Greater Boston endorses the definition of White Supremacy utilized by Facing History and Ourselves in their educational work and defines White Supremacy as “Systems that uphold the dominant status of white people over all other people. White supremacists believe in the superiority of white people”; And,
Resolved, that no Member Organization of JCRC, through its programs, activities or practices - or through the public leadership platforms of its executive officers - should legitimize or normalize organizations or individuals who embrace white supremacy, white nationalism or the conspiracy theories which underlie these ideologies;
Such action is not compatible with, and is in conflict with, JCRC’s mission and, from and after the date hereof, could be grounds for condemnation, including removal from the JCRC upon the determination of this Council and in accordance with JCRC’s Bylaws.
Since JCRC’s founding, we have embraced a “big tent” approach to our network – which is comprised of 40 organizations - striving to welcome all voices advancing the interests of the organized Jewish community and have been committed to representing a diversity of viewpoints. We believe that it is possible for robust support for the US-Israel alliance, including vigorous advocacy, to thrive without embracing white supremacy and bigotry. Plainly said, we reaffirm that there will be no place for white supremacy, white nationalism, or related conspiracy theorists in our organization.
When a similar situation arose in 2019, the JCRC membership did not expel an organization which had engaged in activities many felt to be inconsistent with our mission. JCRC’s members are committed to coming together to understand the experiences of others and to hear their perspectives, even as they differ from our own. It is only by engaging in these often very difficult dialogues that we can continue our mission of civic engagement, building bridges, and initiating partnerships to strengthen the Jewish community for all of us.
The Board of Directors and the Executive Director thank the Council for adopting the recommendations of the Membership Committee.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston joins with our partners in welcoming the accountability that comes with the conviction of Derek Chauvin. No verdict will bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends whole for their loss. There is still much more work to do to confront systemic racism. JCRC will continue to work with our partners to advocate for systemic change including police reform, as well as advocate for changes to address disparities in health care, housing, education and employment—all must be addressed to achieve a just and fair society for all.
We stand with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and share its statement calling for systemic reform and solidarity.
A Measure of Justice for George Floyd
No murder conviction can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss. And there is still much more work to be done to confront systemic racism.
April 20, 2021
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and St. Paul Jewish Federation strongly support the conviction of George Floyd’s killer on all three counts, including murder in the second and third degree.
While no guilty verdict can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss or unwind the trauma inflicted on the broader African American community, we hope that today’s decision brings some measure of justice, healing, and peace to his loved ones and for all Minnesotans.
We know that the problem is not just the murderous misconduct of a few police officers. Systemic failures in law enforcement, as they are in so many areas of society, are real and harm not just communities, but good officers who are committed to doing the job with integrity and fairness.
As such, systemic solutions which include not just police accountability, but also address disparities in housing, education, employment, healthcare, and income are needed now to ensure that Minnesota is a great place to live for all its residents.
We offer our solidarity to the broader African American community, including Black Jews and Jews of color. Additionally, we pledge to be part of the difficult, but necessary work of repairing the relationship between the police and those they are entrusted to protect and serve.
Finally, we thank the members of our Minnesota National Guard for their service in protecting local communities. We do so with full appreciation that the presence of the Guard on our streets is far from ideal and traumatic to many. We hope that our fellow Minnesotans will come to know the Guard as we know them, neighbors who share our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and service.
Photo: The makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Today is a sad day for our nation. The U.S. Capitol was overrun by rioters who, for a short while, disrupted the function of our democratic process of transition. This interference with the tallying of the Electoral vote is an assault on the very foundations of our democracy, unprecedented in our nation’s history. Guided by our mission to “promote an American society which is democratic, pluralistic and just,” JCRC has affirmed and recommitted ourselves to preserving and restoring America’s democratic norms during the last several years. Ensuring that our democracy is and remains well-functioning and, specifically, securing the integrity of our elections systems, has never been more urgent than it is today. For this reason, JCRC cannot remain silent in the face of this violent insurrection. JCRC stands with our Council member the ADL in affirming that “people assaulting law enforcement or breaching government buildings must be arrested and held accountable.” JCRC also condemns all assaults on the democratic transfer of power, including those by President Trump who, as David Harris, the CEO of our Council member AJC states has “undermined democratic values by a refusal to accept the election results” and “encouraged folks to reject a peaceful transition of power.” We echo the words of Governor Baker today, who said that “the chaos now unfolding is the sad but predictable outcome of weeks of attacks perpetrated by President Trump and his supporters against the democratic process that makes America the greatest nation on earth. These baseless challenges to President-elect Biden’s victory must stop.” We pray for the safety of those law enforcement members trying to maintain order and keep the peace amid the chaos, for the members of the press who are on Capitol Hill today, for the residents of the District of Columbia, and for the elected representatives, their staff, and specifically for our Massachusetts delegation, who are trying to do their democratic duty at the Capitol today.