During October 2010, with an initial three-year, $6 million investment, the Israel Action Network was born out of discussions initiated by leaders from numerous local Jewish Federations seeking to connect communities across North America to collectively and proactively respond to threats against Israel’s legitimacy. Led by JCPA Senior Vice President Martin Raffel, Israel Action Network was modeled after the highly successful joint response by the Los Angeles and Toronto Federations that shutdown a public protest of the Toronto Film Festival because of its decisions to feature films from Tel Aviv.
This is just one example of the de-legitimization of the state of Israel which is one of the most serious and urgent challenges facing the Jewish state and its supporters today. Anti-Israel activists’ goals are obvious – poison public opinion about the Jewish state and further isolate it from world leaders, in order to set the state for its demise. The Israel Action Network will link Jewish Federations from across North America with other pro-Israel supporters in a community-driven campaign to rebuff efforts by those advocating for the destruction of Israel through the use of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) and instead help both Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side in peace.
During this launch, the Jewish Federation of Central Mass revitalized its own Community Relations Council, spearheaded by the efforts of BOD member Carol Goodman Kaufman. Our local council along with 100’s of others throughout North America are working with the Israel Action Network to
develop a long-term national strategy that can be modified to address specific community needs and that promotes a fair and balanced understanding of Israel and Middle East issues.
Some other recent examples of efforts to harm Israel, through the BDS movement:
- A 24-hour blockade by anti-Israel labor groups in June 2010, preventing workers from loading and unloading cargo on an Israeli Zim Lines ship in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Calls for boycotts of Trader Joe’s Supermarkets because it carries Israeli goods.
- Aggressive demonstrators, who were eventually arrested, intending to prevent Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking at University of California, Irvine, in February 2010.
- · Pressure from institutions or organizations with large financial holdings, such as universities – the University of California, Berkeley; Georgetown University; Brown University, etc. – and churches, such as the Presbyterian Church USA, to divest their assets from Israel.
On Sunday, March 6, 2011, at the Beechwood Hotel, our local Community Relations Council, sponsored by JFCM, will present a kick-off event of the Council with “Israel Day.” The program’s title, The Israeli Dichotomy: Political Pariah or World Innovator.” is a half day, free community program dedicated to educating our community on the issues such as the above which Israel faces today. The program will begin with a keynote speaker, Dexter Van Zile, a Media Analyst for CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) followed by 2 breakout groups which include medical advances and technology in Israel today. Community Relations Council aims to be an intricate part of the goals and strategies of The Israel Action Network. All community members are invited. RSVP’s must be received by March 1 at 508.756.1543. Further details available on the “events” page of Jewish Central Voice, or log on www.jewishcentral.org