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A massive climate march is scheduled for Rosh Hashanah. Jewish activists give it a pass.

(JTA) — A massive march aimed at pressing for stronger efforts to curb climate change will take place in New York on the second day of Rosh Hashanah — a scheduling move that could exclude Jewish climate activists.

The coalition People vs. Fossil Fuels said it had selected the date despite the conflict after careful consideration. The march will take place days before global leaders are set to descend on the city for the United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit.

“There were a number of factors that led us to choose this date,” a statement on the event’s website said. “Given the timing of the UN Climate Summit, Yom Kippur on the following weekend, and the need to make the march accessible for families and working people of all backgrounds on a weekend, Sunday the 17th was the date that was chosen. We did not make this decision lightly.”

The move comes at a time when warnings abound on social media about how important it is to avoid scheduling events during the busy Jewish holiday season for anyone who is seeking to hold inclusive events. Just on Monday, for example, Rebecca Rausch, a Jewish state legislator in Massachusetts whose platform includes combating climate change, tweeted a “PSA for everyone doing September scheduling” not to hold meetings on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, “at a minimum.”

Achieving those ambitions is particularly complicated this year, when Jewish holidays occupy three full weekends in September and October.

Jewish climate groups and activists say they understand why the March to End Fossil Fuels shook out the way it did — and emphasize that Jews concerned about what scientists say is a looming climate catastrophe have lots of opportunities to help besides marching on Sept. 17.

“This is just a busy time in the Jewish world,” Dahlia Rockowitz, director of campaigns and partnership at Dayenu, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We know that any date that would have been picked around this summit was going to have challenges.”

Dayenu is one of five Jewish groups among the 30 faith-based organizations that are part of People vs. Fossil Fuels, which includes a total of over 1,200 organizations with interests in climate justice and progressive issues.

“We share disappointment that this was on Rosh Hashanah, but recognize the competing demands the organizers were holding, and also know that no matter what, it was going to be a challenging time of year to reach Jews, to turn out Jews to this type of event,” Rockowitz said.

Ben Goloff, a senior climate campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the organizations on the steering committee for the march, was involved in many of the scheduling discussions for this year’s climate march.

“For me and for other Jewish folks in the room and other organizations, this was at the top of our minds when we began sort of organizing around how we’re going to meet this moment, given the timing of the U.N. summit,” he said.

Goloff said he expected a Jewish delegation at the march on Rosh Hashanah and also understood why some Jews, depending on how they observe holidays, would be skipping it in favor of other efforts.

“There are some folks that are actually really excited to show up and participate in the march from the Jewish community and to hold a Jewish-led delegation as a part of it,” Goloff said. “And there are others that are organizing other things around it at times that make more sense for their practice.”

People vs. Fossil Fuels said in its statement about the schedule overlap that it appreciates the challenged it poses for many Jews.

“We deeply respect that Jewish communities have different relationships with protest and social action during the High Holidays,” the coalition said. “We honor and affirm that many Jewish communities and organizations will be praying at this time and celebrate their observance.”

This is not the first time a major march or protest has been held on an important Jewish holiday. In 2017, the March for Racial Justice in Washington, D.C. was scheduled for Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and also one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays. Organizers of the march put out a statement apologizing for the “scheduling conflict.”

“The core leadership of the March for Racial Justice regrets the scheduling conflict of the September 30 date for the March for Racial Justice and the Yom Kippur holiday, the Day of Atonement,” the statement said. “The core leadership of the March for Racial Justice recognizes and celebrates the historical unity between African Americans and Americans of the Jewish faith. These two communities are natural partners, as each have a history of persecution and discrimination.”

Climate change has long ranked at or near the top of a list of issues concerning Jews in the United States, according to multiple surveys, and Jews have been heavily involved in the wider climate movement. But until recently, the issue had a marginal place on the agendas of Jewish communal organizations, which neglected climate even as the subject took on importance in the activism and policies of other religious communities and in the larger philanthropic world. That has changed in the last year or so, with a growing number of Jewish philanthropists and organizations allocating resources toward climate issues.

Rockowitz noted that other Jewish climate activism groups Dayenu is in touch with are coming up with alternatives to the Sunday march for those who are observing the holiday and not attending the protest. Jewish Climate Action Network NYC created a tashlich resource themed around the demands and messaging of the march, and a student strike on Friday, before Rosh Hashanah begins at nightfall, will have Jewish youth participants.

Shoshanna Segal, a Jewish fellow at the interfaith climate group GreenFaith, said she hasn’t decided yet whether to attend the march. But she said that while she would prefer that the march not coincide with the holiday, she thinks there are more important issues to consider.

“This is not the discussion that we should be having,” said Segal, who attends a Conservative synagogue in Queens, Forest Hills Jewish Center. “We should be having a discussion about: Is climate awareness somehow a 614th mitzvah?”

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birthday of the world and has long been seen by environmental activists as a natural moment in the Jewish calendar to elevate their concerns. Some Jews who are attending the march during the holiday are taking the symbolism in stride: Some will gather at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn before the march to create Rosh Hashanah-themed art to carry with them.

Goloff, who lives in Washington D.C., said he, too, anticipated interweaving his Jewish identity and his passion for climate activism even as some of their biggest dates overlap.

“I will be organizing at a time when I’m also praying and that’s going to be important for me,” Goloff said. “It’s absolutely something that I will be holding dear to me in that lead-up to the event and then the week after.”

“I’m really grateful, actually, for this opportunity to bring those two things together,” he added.


The post A massive climate march is scheduled for Rosh Hashanah. Jewish activists give it a pass. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israel, US Blast ‘Outrageous’ ICC Request for Netanyahu’s Arrest

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday issued blistering condemnations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor’s demand for arrest warrants for the Israeli premier, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas terror chief Yahye Sinwar.

Biden said the move by Karim Khan was “outrageous” and “shameful,” adding, “Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that the US “fundamentally rejects the announcement.”

In a video message, Netanyahu called the warrant application “absurd and false” and said it “was not directed only against the prime minister of Israel and the defense minister, but against the entire State of Israel and against the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, who are fighting with otherworldly heroism against the depraved Hamas murderers who attacked us with savage butchery on the seventh of October.”

Addressing the chief prosecutor, Netanyahu continued: “With what chutzpah do you dare compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world? With what audacity do you compare between Hamas that murdered, burned, butchered, raped, and kidnapped our brothers and sisters, and the IDF soldiers who are fighting a just war that is incomparable, with a morality that is unmatched?”

In addition to Sinwar, the request also called for the arrests of Hamas’ political leader in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh, and the Palestinian terror group’s military head, Mohammed Deif, on charges of war crimes.

Blinken called the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas “shameful.”

“Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans,” Blinken said.

He emphasized that the ICC had “no jurisdiction” over the war, and noted that both Israel and the US are not parties of the Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the court. The top US diplomat also called into question “deeply troubling processes” by Khan, who was supposed to send a team to Israel on Monday to coordinate his own visit next week.

“Israel was informed that they did not board their flight around the same time that the prosecutor went on cable television to announce the charges. These and other circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation,” Blinken said.

An unprecedented majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset — 106 out of 120 MKs — signed a petition on Monday afternoon against what they said was an “unerasable historical crime.”

“The scandalous comparison by the Hague prosecutor between Israel’s leaders and the heads of terror organizations is an unerasable historical crime and a clear expression of antisemitism,” the petition read. “We reject this with revulsion. Eighty years after the Holocaust, no one will prevent the Jewish state from defending itself.”

Israel will likely lobby the US Congress to pursue sanctions against the ICC. Several Republican senators last month warned against issuing warrants, saying they would push for sanctions against Khan including barring entry to the US.

One of them, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said on Monday he will “feverishly work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to levy damning sanctions against the ICC,” adding that “Prosecutor Khan is drunk with self-importance and has done a lot of damage to the peace process and to the ability to find a way forward.”

Former US national security adviser John Bolton also called for the US to impose sanctions on the ICC, saying the Hague court had proved its “fundamental illegitimacy.”

“To aid our ally Israel, the US should take steps both in Congress and in the White House to condemn the ICC and impose sanctions,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

The ICC action also received strong criticism in Europe.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called Khan’s decision “appalling and completely unacceptable.”

“We must not forget that it was Hamas that attacked Israel in October and killed, injured, and kidnapped thousands of innocent people,” he wrote on X. “It was this completely unprovoked terrorist attack that led to the current war in Gaza and the suffering of civilians in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon.”

Other European leaders, however, supported the ICC move.

“Crimes committed in Gaza must be prosecuted at the highest level, regardless of the perpetrators,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib wrote. “The fight against impunity wherever crimes occur is a priority for Belgium.”

The call for arrest warrants “is an important step in the investigation of the situation in Palestine,” she added.

The post Israel, US Blast ‘Outrageous’ ICC Request for Netanyahu’s Arrest first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Republican Jewish Coalition Unveils $50,000 Ad Buy to Woo Jewish Voters Ahead of 2024 Presidential Election

US President Joe Biden speaks at a Detroit Branch NAACP annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit, Michigan, US, May 19, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) will purchase $50,000 worth of digital ads in key battleground states with the purpose of targeting Jewish voters ahead of the 2024 US presidential election, according to a statement released by the group on Monday.

The RJC, an organization that seeks to build support for the Republican Party among Jewish voters, claimed it would release new ads underlining what it described as the deteriorating relationship between Israel and the United States during the Biden administration. The ads suggest that US President Joe Biden has undermined Israel’s military campaign in Gaza against Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that launched the ongoing war with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

As antisemitism spikes to record highs and America’s relationship with our ally Israel continues to reach new lows, the Jewish community is more energized than ever to turn the page from the failures, broken promises, and betrayals by Joe Biden,” RNC chair Norm Coleman and CEO Matt Brooks said in a statement.

The two ads will be deployed in states considered critical in the 2024 presidential election: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan. Both ads swipe at Biden over his decision to pause offensive arm shipments to Israel and suggest the president has “stabbed Israel in the back.” They also accuse Biden of not being “strong” enough to guarantee Israel’s security and urge voters to support Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“Biden is siding with Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah over Israel at the most crucial time, a blunder of historic proportions that will lead to more death and destruction,” one of the ads says. 

Biden expressed strong support for Israel following the Oct. 7 onslaught, and since then the US has sent significant amounts of munitions to the Jewish state for its war effort against Hamas. In recent weeks, however, he has adopted a much more critical posture toward Jerusalem, culminating with his decision earlier this month to withhold sending certain weapons to Israel due to disagreements over Israeli military operations in Gaza.

In the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel, Republican politicians have attempted to capitalize on the growing tension between Democrats and Jewish voters. On May 9, Trump lambasted Jewish supporters of Biden.

“If you’re Jewish, and you vote for him, I say shame on you,” Trump said. 

Ammiel Hirsch, a rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week warning Democrats not to take Jewish voters for granted. 

“American Jews increasingly feel politically homeless. Liberal Jewish voters consider President Biden a longtime friend. At the same time, they are troubled by the growing influence of anti-Israel forces in the Democratic Party,” Hirsch wrote.

In his final statement before passing away earlier this year, former US Senator and Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman similarly warned Democrats and Biden about the political danger of turning against Israel.

“We are here to say that you can no longer simply count on our vote just because Jews traditionally have voted Democratic. We are here to say you must earn our vote,” the joint statement read. “We want to continue to support Democratic candidates, but you need to know that if you abandon Israel in order to garner the support of anti-Israel extremists within the Democratic Party, it will be difficult for us to support Democrats who are on the ballot this November.”

Lieberman, an ardent supporter of Israel, was the first Jewish candidate on a major party presidential ticket in the US.

The post Republican Jewish Coalition Unveils $50,000 Ad Buy to Woo Jewish Voters Ahead of 2024 Presidential Election first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Pro-Hamas Encampment at Drexel University Pushes School Into Lockdown

“Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Drexel University. Photo: X/Twitter

A “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” was erected suddenly at Drexel University in Philadelphia over the weekend, forcing school officials to lock down the campus to protect it from a flood of non-students who joined the demonstration.

“This demonstration has already proved intolerably disruptive to normal university operations and has raised serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protesters subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech, signs, and chants,” Drexel University president John Fry said on Sunday in a letter to the campus community. “These kinds of hateful and intimidating acts must be condemned, and they cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Fry added that “it has become increasingly apparent that most of the encampment participants are outside individuals who are unaffiliated with Drexel.”

The group responsible for the demonstration, Drexel Palestine Coalition (DPC), is demanding that the school adopt the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and “terminate” its Hillel and Chabad chapters.

“These organizations must be replaced by non-Zionist Jewish ones that in no way support the ongoing genocide, occupation, or apartheid in Palestine,” DPC said in a statement posted on social media.

DPC also wants the university’s police force to be abolished, amnesty granted to any protester charged with violating school rules, and a “60 percent” reduction in Fry’s salary, the savings of which would be invested “into local community efforts such as affordable housing, co-ops, land trusts — specifically towards Black Bottom residents — and the rebuilding of Palestinian institutions such as hospitals and universities.”

Footage of the demonstration shows some aggressive behavior, including the protesters’ dismantling police barricades. According to the latest reports, there have been no arrests.

“Hillel continues to be grateful to have partners on campus who believe that a university experience should be filled with opportunities to engage thoroughly and thoughtfully around issues where there is both deep investment and deep disagreement while recognizing that a prerequisite for any such conversation is a demonstrated commitment to the safety, well being, and shared sense of belonging of all of the students, faculty, and staff who call our university home,” Drexel Hillel said on Sunday in a statement issued about the encampment.

The protesters’ demands are not the first assault on Jewish organizations at Drexel University this academic year.

Last month, the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life was vandalized, with the culprits removing large channel letters spelling out Perelman’s name from a brick structure near the entrance to the building. The disturbing act, which occurred amid an explosion of antisemitic hate crimes across the US, was filmed by surveillance cameras, but the persons responsible cannot yet be identified because they wore masks.

“It bears repeating that vandalizing centers of Jewish life and learning, defacing property with antisemitic graffiti, or ripping mezuzot off doorposts in residence halls does not constitute any legitimate form of protests,” Fry said at the time. “Such acts are antisemitic in their intent to disrupt Jewish life and intimidate our Jewish communities, and have no place at Drexel or in our democratic society.”

Drexel University joins the list of over 100 schools where anti-Zionists have taken over sections of campus and refused to leave unless school administrators agree to condemn and boycott Israel. Other demonstrations timed to coincide with the end of the academic year petered out earlier this month, but at Drexel, which uses the quarter system, classes do not end until June 8. Because of this, the encampment there could last as many as three weeks.

In the interim, the school remains locked down, and on Monday, Fry ordered that all classes be conducted virtually.

“We will continue to provide updates regarding this situation or any changes to the university’s operations,” Fry said in Sunday’s letter. “I ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work toward ensuring that our campus can soon return to normal.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Pro-Hamas Encampment at Drexel University Pushes School Into Lockdown first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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