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 Divestment in VT

In Need of Civility JCPA Connects
Divestment Defeated in Vermont
A forum at UVM on divesting from Israel
As co-chair of the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Task Force on Combating the Delegitimization of Israel, the Israel Action Network (IAN) took a lead role in thwarting the recent divestment initiative at the University of Vermont (UVM).  Last week, UVM’s Socially Responsible Investing Work Group (SRIWG) considered a proposal that the university divest from companies that profit from, or have contractual involvement in, Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories.  The IAN provided the campus community with useful materials to counter the proposed divestment bill, including talking points, background analysis and articles on anti-Israel divestment and the overall campaign to delegitimize Israel, refutations of points in the bill, and model presentations that students could deliver at the committee hearing arguing against the proposal. Additionally, the IAN maintained regular contact with UVM Hillel staff and student leadership.  

Although there is not an official word from the SRIWG group that this bill is tabled, it is widely believed that the bill will not progress further.  Susan Leff, Hillel Director at UVM, extended her sincere gratitude to the ICC Task Force for assistance with this matter stating her belief that the campus community would not have been as well prepared without the Task Force’s leadership. 

Civility in WI
Last week, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow joined the Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council for the launch of their new civility campaign. As part of the national JCPA Civility Campaign, this new initiative is aimed at repairing acrimonious rifts in the Jewish community over issues like Israel and domestic politics through good listening, careful speech, and community-wide conversations. In his remarks at the kickoff event, Rabbi Gutow said that the incivility in our country has reached dangerous levels. The problem, he said, is that people are not listening to each other – we have forgotten that we are all created b’tzelem elohim, in the divine image. The best thing for us, our communities, and our nation, said Rabbi Gutow, is to listen. “If we do not listen; if we walk into the room and know that our point of view is the only one that matters, our society will not find the best answers, we will not reap the rewards of an issue decided by open discourse.”

Introducing JCPA Connects
This week, we will launch JCPA Connects! Along with JCPActs, JCPA Connects is the second of our new e-newsletters.  Sent out the last Thursday of every month, Connects will showcase innovative programming from JCPA member agencies and serve as a resource for communities looking for new ideas. Each monthly edition will include stories of three communities or partner agencies discussing their program, where the idea came from, how they implemented it, ideas for how it can be replicated, and some reflections on its impact. This week’s JCPA Connects will feature New York’s popular Iran 180 program, Miami’s successful Hunger Seder, and the winners of this year’s JCPA Program Excellence Awards.

We hope that JCPA Connects, as well as the links to more resources and actions, will help communities enhance their programming, increase their organizational capacity, and mobilize constituent organizations and share best practices in an effort to “repair the world through Jewish advocacy.”

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