For Immediate Release: March 30, 2015
Jonathan Gilad, Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Emily Hochberg, Israel Action Network
JCPA and IAN Condemn Virginia Bar Association Decision to Cancel Trip to Israel
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network deplore the decision made by the Virginia State Bar to cancel its Midyear Legal Seminar in Jerusalem. This decision was based on a faulty assessment of material facts. Members of the Virginia Bar would have been welcomed to Israel the same as they would have any other western country. This decision sends the wrong message and should be rescinded. Neither the U.S. nor the Israeli government, nor any country, can guarantee the entry of any individual without review. That said, every year millions of people of all nationalities travel to Israel without any hindrance or delay.
We applaud William Howell, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, who stated clearly that "The Commonwealth of Virginia has a strong and longstanding relationship with the State of Israel and its people that has been formalized as the policy of the Commonwealth on several different occasions." He cites the state's historic and ongoing partnership with Israel, including a recently adopted General Assembly resolution in support of Israel, "renewing the Commonwealth’s longstanding commitment to our ally." He concludes that, "The state bar’s decision to cancel this upcoming trip is inconsistent with the policy of the Commonwealth and sends the wrong signal about our relationship with Israel."
This decision flies in the face of both longstanding state policy and, more importantly, the facts regarding the visitor entry policies at issue.
The only just course of action is for the Virginia State Bar to rescind the decision and apologize to its membership and the people of Virginia.
The Israel Action Network (IAN) is a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), created to counter the assault on Israel’s legitimacy and proactively lead the conversation about the Jewish, democratic state of Israel.
JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 17 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.
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