Film Festival Coverage Seen ‘Misleading’
Tue, 02/08/2011

Your article last week, “JCC Festival Accused of Hurting Israel,” was seriously misleading. Recent events in the Middle East, with potentially dire consequences for peace and democracy in the entire region, remind us all of the importance of our political and economic connections and the messages they send to the broader community.

We want to assure our members and the community at large that the JCC does not support “Boycott, Divestment, Sanction,” or BDS, in any form, nor do we fund, endorse or promote the message of any organization that does so. We stand firmly in support of Israel and in opposition to BDS activities. We take these concerns seriously, and we choose our partners and affiliations with care.

On Jan. 27, the executive director and a member of the board of the JCC met with Richard Allen, at his request. We acknowledged that he had raised important issues and assured him that the board of the JCC would complete its already begun process to better understand the issues and take appropriate action to ensure that the JCC’s mission is not being compromised.

Your article, by amplifying Mr. Allen’s accusations, implies that the JCC is a willing accomplice in extremist actions against Israel. That is completely untrue. We are a passionate supporter of Israel and we actively partner with Israeli organizations that deepen the connections between disparate communities of Jews. Your article alarmed us because it reported claims that misrepresent and fundamentally misunderstand the overwhelming thrust and focus of the myriad of JCC programs that successfully implement the JCC’s mission to promote community that embraces diversity, which is rooted in Jewish values and which increases connections to the people of Israel.

We understand that Mr. Allen and some others believe that any relationship, no matter how tenuous, to any group that has ever taken a public position that is critical of Israel and its policies is an implied endorsement that should not be tolerated by any Jewish communal organizations. However, the JCC is determined to provide a forum for open discussion and cultural and other events that promote our mission and serve our community, and we will resist narrowly focused efforts to circumscribe activities that do so. We make decisions every day about what programs are worthwhile and consistent with our mission. This sometimes involves sensitive judgments about which groups intend to strengthen Israel through constructive criticism and which groups do not have Israel’s best interests at heart. We are justifiably proud of the rich programming we offer.

With all of the external threats facing our community and Israel, we believe it is more important than ever to foster a genuine exchange of views without pointing fingers or painting well-meaning efforts with a broad brush of guilt by association. We urge The Jewish Week to be mindful of these issues and more balanced in its future coverage.

Marti Meyerson
and Alice Gottesman

Co-Presidents
JCC in Manhattan

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Comments

I can't believe that I just read the following:

"We understand that Mr. Allen and some others believe that any relationship, no matter how tenuous, to any group that has ever taken a public position that is critical of Israel and its policies is an implied endorsement that should not be tolerated by any Jewish communal organizations. "

Wow, award Marti Meyerson and Alice Gottesman the grand prize in rhetoric for this classic strawman argument. When you read the original article and the letter above, you have to wonder if they are both talking about the same thing. The original article had specific references to the JCC linking to groups that support BDS, specifically on the JCC sponsored advertising for the "Other Israel Film Festival." The above letter of Marti Meyerson and Alice Gottesman completely ignores the facts and argues about some ambiguous "tenuous link." I would urge Marti Meyerson and Alice Gottesman to please open their eyes and respond to the facts of the article if they can. If they can't, it is time to stop circling the wagons JCC. The JCC should actively pursue guidelines to prevent such indirect support for BDS in the future and stop trying to defend the indefensible by crafting their argument in ambiguous language and hiding behind lofty rhetoric that is at odds with the facts.

It is true that the JCC Board Presidents can write nice sounding letters, However............ The facts about the "Partners" at the JCC in Manhattan tell another story: The JCC in Manhattan had Links on it's web site to BDS groups such as Mossawa and the Adalah. Only after the story broke in the JEWISH WEEK did they finally remove the links to these BDS groups in SHAME. The JCC in Manhattan gives the J Street free advertising by promoting J Street on the JCC's Other Israel Web Site....................... and by printing and mailing thousands of brochures with the J Street Logo listed as a "Partner"..................................... They allow J Street access to the JCC membership and give them space to promote the vile J Street agenda................................ They allow J Street to fund-raise at the JCC in Manhattan building and target JCC members. Then the JCC in Manhattan says "We support the people of Israel" but they never say the "Democratic Jewish State of Israel". The list goes on and on..... The anti-Israel "Partners" go on and on It is time for the JCC in Manhattan Board of Directors to pass Guidelines that will prevent their out of control staff from Partnering and Linking to BDS supporters, funders and anti-Israel political organizations.

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