April , 2019

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Rauner, Mendoza and Zopp’s use of anti-Semitism to justify their support of Israeli repression of Palestinians, including through Islamophobe-funded trip to Israel, cheapens struggle against bigotry.

CHICAGO, IL Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago condemns two recent examples of Illinois politicians conflating support for Israel’s repression of Palestinian rights with combatting anti-Semitism and hate crimes. Israel is a nation state, not a religion or ethnic group, and is subject to criticism like any other nation. It relentlessly violates the human rights of Palestinians through home demolitions, illegal land grabs, humiliating checkpoints, and extra judicial executions. ”Solidarity” with Israel does nothing to discourage hate crimes, and opposition to Israeli policies is not antisemitism.

On March 8 in remarks at the  Illinois Holocaust Museum Humanitarian Awards dinner, Governor Rauner pledged to strengthen Illinois’ law targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights by “prohibiting state contracts for companies that boycott Israel.”

Last week Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Deputy Mayor of Chicago Andrea Zopp participated in an Israeli government-sponsored “Women in Leadership” delegation to Israel. Comptroller Mendoza justified her participation by pointing to Governor Rauner’s March 8 statements regarding “an uptick in anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism…in Illinois and around the country,” adding that “Illinois’ leaders ‘cannot stay silent on hate’” and therefore it is important to “reaffirm our state’s strong cultural, religious, political and economic ties to Israel.”

We agree that anti-Semitism and all forms of racial and ethnic bigotry require action, yet we do not accept that visiting Israel, or criminalizing peaceful opposition to its numerous human rights violations, is in any way a stance against hate. Nor is solidarity with Israel equivalent to support for Jews.

By targeting supporters of Palestinian human rights, public figures both feed into the worsening climate of hatred toward Arabs and Muslims and distract from the key role the Trump administration continues to play in fanning hatred towards Muslims, Arabs, Jews, People of Color, LGBTQIA people, women and immigrants.  

It is ironic, given the stated aims of combatting bigotry, that the trip was co-sponsored by the American Israel Friendship League (AIFL), an organization which includes notorious Islamophobes and right-wing extremists on its board, as well as Jewish leaders who have excused President Trump’s racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic actions due to his support for Israel. Some examples include:

Legitimizing Israel’s repression of Palestinian rights by participating in this trip in no way combats anti-Semitism. It is perfectly legitimate to criticize the State of Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians.  It is not legitimate to equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. Expressing solidarity for the state of Israel is a poor way to indicate a stance against ethnic hatred.

The best way to combat anti-Semitism is to do so as part of the struggle against all forms of hate – in particular the ongoing onslaught against the U.S. Muslim community, expressed not only in random acts of violence, but through municipal, state and federal actions targeting “sharia law”, the use of highly paid anti-Muslim extremists as “experts” in government circles, and of course federal executive orders and Illinois policies targeting Muslim and Syrian immigrants. Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago encourages our elected officials to join that struggle, rather than exploiting fears of anti-Semitism to undermine  the liberation  movement of the Palestinian people.

JVP-Chicago is the local branch of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org), a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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