The partnership vs. partisanship op-eds that appeared in the Dec. 8 issue (“What Israel needs: advocacy, not partisanship,” “Don’t let fear of partisanship stifle debate”) show the healthy dialogue and the various viewpoints that exist within the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ. However, the CRC is working to go beyond the polarization of “Left” or “Right, “liberal” or “conservative” viewpoints to bring together the community and counter assaults on Israel’s legitimacy. This is the major focus that we all care about and where our attention must turn.
Over the past several years, a concerted effort has been made in the media and the grassroots level to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. The efforts are primarily focused on attempts to link Israel to atrocities and regimes that have carried out severe human rights abuses without proving these allegations. Delegitimizers garner support by appealing to those of us who are deeply invested in and concerned about civil rights and freedoms. Their aim is to isolate Israel as a pariah state and contest its right to exist. The result within the Jewish community is that people who are not versed in Israel advocacy don’t know what is true and don’t’ know how to respond, and many decide they don’t need to be involved in the conflict and withdraw their support for Israel.
The CRC has aimed to refocus the discussion of Israel in the community by launching a Step Up for Israel program for MetroWest and Central NJ. The initiative is an education and advocacy program to empower the Jewish community with facts about Israel so they are inspired and confident to speak up for Israel. The CRC also launched a website —CampaignForTruth.info — to provide accurate information to respond to misinformation and false accusations against Israel. We are working with over 35 organizations and synagogues from different streams. More are joining each day.
In addition we ran a successful Israel advocacy summit this fall which featured Sen. Robert Menendez and more than 15 national Israel advocacy organizations from different perspectives. We are also providing opportunities for high school students, college students and professors, community members, interfaith outreach, public officials, and media response to ensure that people have the information and tools they need to step up for Israel.
CRC members are engaged and active. We invite the community to join with us. I am proud to work with such a dedicated lay committee.
Melanie Roth Gorelick
Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ