On the Front Lines: CRC Combats BDS

Melanie Gorelick, associate director of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest (CRC) is this week's guest blogger.

 

In prior blogs I addressed BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions): its background, historical context, and how Israel can do a better job with hasbara (public relations) and sensitivity to world opinion. In this blog, Melanie Roth Gorelick, associate director of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest (CRC), outlines current efforts by the CRC in collaboration with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and others to begin addressing BDS.

 

But it is not enough when one considers the international scale of the issues. Future blogs will address UJC MetroWest’s participation in a new continental initiative, the Israel Action Network, and other plans to more comprehensively and proactively address the challenges facing the Jewish State.

 

The CRC is on the front lines of countering local, national, and international efforts to delegitimize Israel’s existence. The public policy and advocacy arm of UJC MetroWest (UJC), CRC is the common table at which Jewish organizations and lay leaders in MetroWest sit together to advocate for legislation in support of Israel, provide a rapid response to anti-Israel bias, and defend Israel in immediate and developing crises when they arise.

 

There is currently a growing movement that aims to turn government and world opinion against Israel and classify the creation of the Jewish State as an historical error. It aims to cast Israel as a colonial power that suppresses the rights of Palestinians and engages in human rights abuses and even war crimes.

 

We are beginning to witness this international campaign at the local level. Over the past year, a number of anti-Israel initiatives took place in New Jersey: a local high school debate about "whether Israel should exist"; the infamous dispute on the Princeton campus about the status of Israeli-made hummus in its dining rooms; and calls by Presbyterians to boycott Israel. This past November three anti-Israel programs were brought to Rutgers University in New Brunswick and attended by large audiences.

 

In the wake of these events, CRC geared up its advocacy efforts to counter assaults on Israel’s legitimacy at the local level. Highlights included:

 

·         Advocacy campaigns directed towards senators, representatives, and President Obama during the rise of tensions last fall between Israel and the U.S. that emphasized the necessity of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

·         Successfully urging New Jersey Congressmen to vote against the passage of the Goldstone Report and diffusing tensions during Vice President’s Biden visit to Israel.

·         The partnership with AJC and community rabbis to successfully counter anti-Israel boycott and divestment efforts at the Presbyterian General Assembly.

·         In collaboration with the ADL, MetroWest teens preparing to attend college received training on how to respond to anti-Israel activities on college campuses; CRC facilitated communication among members of the Jewish Faculty Network in order to keep them abreast of what was happening on college campuses in MetroWest.

·         The strengthening of relationships with pro-Zionist evangelicals to partner on Israel advocacy. This effort included a two-part series on the pro-Israel evangelical Christian movement and UJC Executive Vice President Max Kleinman’s address at the plenary of New Jersey-based pastors at the Eagles Wings Conference.

·         A meeting with the editorial board of the Star-Ledger to discuss our concern about anti-Israel bias and ensure balanced and accurate reporting.

·         Mobilizing the community to participate in the BIG (By Israel Goods) Day to counter a plan by anti-Israel activists in New York City to demonstrate and call for boycotts of stores that sell Israeli products.

·         Organizing three MetroWest buses for this year’s Birthright Israel trip.

 

As this blog is being written, the Palestinians are refusing to engage in negotiations without preconditions and are using the UN General Assembly to declare a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians continue to vilify Israel and are backtracking on issues they have committed to resolving through peace negotiations.

 

This is a pivotal time in our history. Although Israel is a thriving sovereign state that makes enormous contributions to the world, its enemies are committed to strengthening their methodology and resolve to achieve the eradication of a Jewish state. It is imperative, therefore, that the Jewish community at all levels is educated on the facts and learns effective tools on how to speak out in support of Israel. 

 

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