This appeared today over the signature of
No, our continental organization, our JFNA, cowers in silence. Does anyone in a leadership role in our system, at our federations, comprehend what the role of federation, what the role of JFNA must be -- what Charles Bronfman called "community with a capital 'C'" even means? Why do we continue to permit others to do what we have been created to do?
"Take Action—NOWLast week, groups at San Francisco State University silenced Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from speaking at a planned event.Their disruption was a clear attempt to silence opposing views. And that runs counter to the inherent values of any academic environment and open, honest debate. Sadly, their aggressive tactics were successful. And because this was not an isolated event, it makes it all the more dangerous.The BDS movement in California and across the globe does not seek peace, justice, or equality. It is a movement against our democratic principles supported by people who frequently and publicly shout that we must “drive the Jews into the sea.” At San Francisco State University, students repeatedly shouted “Intifada” at Mayor Barkat until he left the stage. You can read the account of Aaron Parker, Jewish National Fund’s former Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest here.Once you do, please contact Governor Jerry Brown and tell him that intimidation and fear are NOT acceptable. Send him this letter today.Rather than adopt their strategies of intimidation, we should act as Mayor Barkat did and encourage dialogue and, yes, even disagreement. College campuses should be a place where students can debate issues of national and international importance in a way that is open, honest, and fair. A place where students enjoy the right to hear all views and respect all people who express them. A place where all sides can search for—and hopefully find—common ground. But if they cannot, they should disagree respectfully and civilly.Because we all—each and every one of us—fundamentally agree that both Palestinians and Jews deserve a future in their respective homeland.But we must oppose those who focus solely on making Israel the enemy. Just as we must reject those who make every Palestinian the enemy. We must reject those on both sides who demand an all-or-nothing solution.Let us be clear: boycotts do not unite, they divide. BDS is not about a path to peace. It is about isolation and continued conflict.That’s why JNF has committed considerable time and resources to college campuses, including:
- Our Campus Fellows program that consists of passionate people representing JNF on campus and promoting Positively Israel and JNF college programming
- An academic program for full-time university and college faculty members to participate in a two-week Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel with their Israeli counterparts
- Alternative Spring and Winter Breaks: Week-long community service trips for young adults ages 18-24 to give back to the land and people of Israel
- Taglit-Birthright Israel: 10-day trip for college students or young professionals in partnership with Shorashim with Israelis their own age
- Caravan for Democracy, a student leadership mission for non-Jewish students that allows participants to experience a 10-day, all-expenses paid educational program to Israel and explore its distinctive democracy
- The $100 million JNF Boruchin Israel Education and Advocacy Center that is funding new innovative, positive Zionist educational and advocacy programming in conjunction with foundations and non-profit and non-governmental organizations
- The Alexander Muss High School in Israel, an accredited academic high school program in Israel that offers an experiential study of Israel and Jewish HistoryWith your support, we can find more cooperation, more conversation, and ultimately real solutions toward a lasting peace. With your support, we can let the State of California know that we must work together to create understanding, respect, and peace.Send a letter to Governor Brown today. Let him know that we must embrace all opinions ... AND reject those on both sides who demand an all-or-nothing solution."
Richard Sandler, in his first message to us, talked about an organization that embodies Jewish values; for how long has "silence" been one of them?