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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Trump’s Rabbis

1) Forward (hostile), 2) Cross-Currents (enthusiastic)


Pres. Trump meets Orthodox Rabbis in NY who were keen to find out his views on Jews in America. They left disappointed. JTA

Inspired By Trump Era, Orthodox Rabbis Launch New Political Group

By Nathan Guttman, Forward
November 10, 2017
Nikki Casey

This advocacy group believes same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt. It says Vice President Mike Pence is a role model because he won’t dine alone with a woman other than his wife. It applauds legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks gestation, on the grounds that the “unborn child” can feel “fetal pain.” It’s an evangelical Christian organization, right?

Wrong.

A newcomer to Jewish politics, the Coalition for Jewish Values, seized the moment of President Trump’s election almost exactly a year ago to start articulating some of the most conservative positions ever espoused by a Jewish group. At the core of its mission is a set of political and social values that are strikingly similar to those of many Christian evangelicals.

“We felt this voice was missing,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the recently elected president of the group. “Why is it that those who speak in the public sphere on behalf of Judaism often seem to have a minimal education in traditional Jewish literature?” The CJV is focused mainly on press releases and op-eds, and the occasional filing of a court amicus brief, but it is not engaged in Capitol Hill political lobbying.

The CJV responded to the Forward’s questions via e-mail after its board reached a “consensus” on them.

The group was launched a month after Trump took office, by a handful of Orthodox rabbis seeking to speak out on current issues from a standpoint they describe as Torah-based, “authentic” Jewish values. The founders, most of them from the New York-New Jersey area, come from the ranks of the Orthodox Union (OU, a synagogue and lobbying organization; Young Israel, a synagogue movement, and the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel, which focuses on advocacy.

“They feel more powerful now because they voted for the winner,” said Samuel Heilman, chair of Jewish studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, noting that now these right-wing Orthodox think they can “speak for everyone.”

Many of the CJV rabbis already enjoy high profiles as activists and thinkers. Lerner led the call to release Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of espionage in 1985. Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a former lawyer who serves as a pulpit rabbi in Teaneck, New Jersey, has called Arabs “savages” and characterized the government of former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as the “Rabin Judenrat.” The CJV now lists 200 rabbis as members of its rabbinical circle.


Rabbi Pesach Lerner, YouTube

The CJV’s statements are a mix of typical conservative positions, expressions of support for the Trump administration and rebukes of liberal Jewish groups. The Reform movement’s Zionist arm is deemed “uniquely repugnant” in the latest CJV release, which criticizes a leader of the group for suggesting that the Orthodox treat Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel as “second-class” citizens.

The ADL has become a dangerous organization of the ‘Alt Left’ itself” the CJV said.

The CJV scolded rabbis who refused to arrange a High Holiday phone call with Trump, and has called the Forward “an embarrassment to Jewish journalism.” The group also took a strong stance against the Anti-Defamation League after it put out a list of “alt-light” activists. “The ADL has become a dangerous organization of the ‘Alt Left’ itself,” The CJV said.

Religious groups like the CJV have long played a key role in American Jewish advocacy by drawing on their synagogue networks for support and translating theology into specific policies. The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, founded in 1961, is the most noticeable group on the national political scene. It focuses on liberal issues, from immigration to LGBTQ rights. The O.U. has served as a strong voice on pro-Israel legislation and policy. Agudath Israel, active in America since the 1930s, has also been promoting the cause of school choice, an issue of importance to Orthodox Americans.

The political leanings of American Jews, however, are clear. Seventy-one percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while only 24% chose Trump. The 2013 Pew Research Center study of American Jews found that nearly half of them identify as liberal while only a fifth see themselves as conservative. This conservative fifth is home to many Orthodox Jews, who have emerged as one of the most reliable Republican support groups and who are largely affiliated with the O.U. and Agudath Israel. Newcomer the CJV is likely to cater to the beliefs and worldview of the more extreme conservative faction among these conservative Jews.

To be sure, not all Orthodox Jews are willing to grant the CJV its desire to represent them.

“They’re a fringe group that only represents a tiny slice of the Orthodox community,” said Bat Sheva Marcus, an Orthodox feminist who opposes the CJV’s positions on abortions, contraception and gay and lesbian rights. Marcus stressed that she does not see the group as a threat to a more liberal Orthodox school of thought that has taken root in recent years. “There’s no there there,” she said. “They don’t speak for the community.”

The CJV says it speaks for Judaism.

“It’s not that we’re being driven by politics; it’s that our religion puts us into a particular political camp,” Yaakov Menken, L, the CJV’s managing director, said in June in an interview with the Orthodox publication Jewish Press . And this particular camp sits at the corner of Trump-Republican politics and Christian conservative values. Menken was a guest speaker at this year’s Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, America’s prime Christian conservative gathering.

In support for Trump’s rollback of transgender equality rules, the CJV quotes Genesis 1:27, which describes the creation of male and female: “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” According to the CJV, this means God created male and female separately. Liberal rabbis do not believe this is the only interpretation of this text. “The biblical text itself is not clear about whether they were created as two different people or as one creature,” T’ruah Executive Director Rabbi Jill Jacobs said, pointing to the ambiguity in the Hebrew text, which could be understood as male and female being part of one creature.

“It’s a very Christian thing to do,” Jacobs added, “to just look at the Torah literally.”

And while the CJV does not view its interpretation of Judaism as being Christian, the organization prides itself on sharing social values with conservative Christians.

Menken recalled a conversation with a Christian pro-Israel leader who told him: “I can’t tell you how often people ask me “‘why are you devoting so much time to supporting the Jews and Israel when Jews oppose us on our core issues?’” Transgender rights is a good example of this, Menken said, calling the issue a chillul Hashem, or a desecration of God’s name.

This past summer the group filed an amicus brief in support of Christian groups fighting to keep a large cross placed on public grounds in Pensacola, Florida. The CJV claimed that ruling against the right to place a cross would also “encourage the erasure of minority religions from public life.”

“It should not only be Christians who are saying that biblical values are critical to the success of a modern civilized society,” Menken said. “It is a chillul Hashem that there isn’t a Jewish voice doing that.”


Introducing Coalition for Jewish Values – A Much-Needed Breath of Fresh Air

By Avrohom Gordimer, Cross-Currents
March 17, 2017

The voices of those purporting to speak for Judaism and Jews often take positions that embody the antithesis of authentic Torah values. It is immensely frustrating, does a disservice to the divine mandate that is the essential role of the Jewish people, and therefore requires the consistent and fearless articulation of a genuine Torah message for the public.

A bold new organization, Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), was founded by a broad-based cadre of rabbinic figures who perceived this problem and proposed CJV as the solution. CJV unabashedly addresses the burning issues of the day with press-releases that are promptly composed and broadcast during each relevant news cycle – usually literally within a few hours of a breaking story – so that CJV’s voice is heard and the Torah’s position is in the forefront of public discourse. CJV also publishes longer pieces that address various policy matters from a Torah perspective.

CJV has thus far issued very important press releases regarding the nomination of David Friedman for the position of US Ambassador to the State of Israel, as well as regarding attempts by the Reform movement to interfere with Israeli anti-BDS legislation. These press releases were carried on multiple major media sites and have been invoked by important parties at the heart of the discussion. CJV statements about transgender issues and about irresponsible “Orthodox” voices, which do not represent the vast majority of Orthodox Jews, were well-received by those waiting for a rabbinic organization to clarify the issues and state the truth, without hesitation, compromise or political correctness.

Earlier this week, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Director of CJV, represented CJV in a debate-discussion with Reform leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie. CJV’s rapid rise to prominence made it the perfect address for Jewish Broadcasting Service to contact for this program.

CJV’s Rabbinic Board consists of nationally-known rabbinic personalities, who serve as CJV’s Senior Rabbinic Fellows. The CJV Rabbinic Board is supported by the CJV Rabbinic Circle, which is a group of Orthodox rabbis who lend concurrence and gravitas to the statements issued by the Rabbinic Board. The Rabbinic Circle is still accepting new members who qualify.

Please follow the CJV website for new press releases and op-eds, and feel free to post comments and share ideas. CJV welcomes new voices and looks forward to continued rapid growth as a major and exciting voice in the discourse.

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