Opinions & Commentary

Readers respond to “What’s so Jewish about the JCRC” editorial

Last week’s editorial in The Jewish Advocate [“What’s so Jewish about the Jewish Community Relations Council?” Nov. 17, p. 8] raised some important concerns about the need for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston to do more to defend and protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitism.

Sadly, those same kinds of concerns also apply to many other Jewish organizations in America. I think it’s wonderful that Jewish organizations want to help others such as the Muslim community, the black community, the LGBTQ community and the immigrant community, as well as focus on such issues as the environment, hunger and inequality. Nonetheless, I find it bewildering that so many Jewish organizations devote insufficient resources to directly defending and protecting their own Jewish community, particularly since the need to vigorously address anti-Semitism is so readily apparent.

I say this for several reasons, including the fact that earlier this month the FBI released hate crime statistics for 2016 and its report showed that more hate crimes were directed against Jews than against all other religious groups combined. Think of it this way – Jews comprise about 2 percent of America’s population, yet over 50 percent of all hate crimes in 2016 were directed against Jews!

It also must be remembered that 21st century Jew-hatred in America now comes in many forms and from many different groups on the right and left. Recent anti-Semitic incidents and such FBI statistics are a clarion call for revised priorities, fresh ideas and perhaps new leadership. Jews ignore this problem at their own peril, even here in America.

ROBERT M. SOFFER
Sharon

Bravo!

ALAN STEIN
Natick

Kudos to you for one excellent editorial.

CAROL DENBO
Marblehead

Thank you for your editorial, “What’s so Jewish about the Jewish Community Relations Council?” I am in complete agreement. You might also ask, “What’s so Jewish about J-Street,” or “What’s so Hebrew about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)?”

These pseudo-Jewish organizations, and many more like them, are trying to out-Tikkun Olam each other. While in some cases actually helping our tiny Jewish community, they are in many cases also proudly assisting the greater Gentile world. There are several things wrong with this concept. First, there are many Jews who badly need help. Our first priority should be to take care of our own. Second, in some cases the people they are helping are our enemies who hate us. By helping our enemies, they are actually harming their fellow Jews. Third, the money they are spending to help others greatly depletes the amount available to help needy Jews.

As you pointed out, with regard to JCRC, “Our area Jewish federation provides it with $1.7 million … more than half of its annual budget.” In the interest of long-term survival of the Jewish people, I would rather see more of these funds used for helping needy Jewish day schools and other such worthy projects. I commend you for your willingness to bring this problem to the attention of the Jewish community.

SUMNER WEISMAN
Framingham

The Jewish Advocate is absolutely correct. The word Jewish should be removed from the JCRC’s name. But this is not surprising, since the JCRC’s website lists “pursuing social justice” as its top priority. What is surprising and deeply disturbing is how the JCRC ignores and distances itself from vital Jewish and Israeli issues.

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the JCRC sent an email supporting transgender bathrooms. There was no mention of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the labor camps, the concentration camps, the death camps, the death marches, the Einsatzgruppen that slaughtered 1.5 million Jews, the forced ghettoization of Europe’s Jews or anything even remotely related to the Holocaust. On a day honoring the victims of the Holocaust, the JCRC’s priority was “to advance transgender public accommodations.”

Every leader of every major Israeli political party was united in their opposition to the executive agreement President Obama signed with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The JCRC lists “supporting Israel” as its third most important goal. Yet the JCRC, as clearly stated in its Oct. 20 email, did not take a position. The JCRC deliberately chose to ignore and not support all of Israel’s leaders against Israel’s greatest enemy. Is that supporting Israel?

Massachusetts has America’s fifth largest Jewish population. BDS has been defined as anti-Semitism. Does Massachusetts have a law against BDS like 24 other states? No. Is that supporting Israel?

It is time to abolish the JCRC, and return politics to individual Jews, where it belongs.

ANDREW M. GORDON
Newton



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