(New York Jewish Week) — Voters in New York state are split on whether the United States should provide aid to Israel, according to a recent poll, a shift from the weeks following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.
A Siena College survey published on Monday found that 45% of the state’s voters are opposed to providing further military or economic aid to Israel, while 43% support it, with the remainder either on the fence or declining to answer.
That’s a shift from a November survey of New York state voters by Siena, taken roughly a month after Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel launched the current war. That survey found that 51% were in favor of aid to Israel while 37% were against.
In this week’s poll, few subgroups supported aid to Israel. Slim majorities of suburban respondents and those 55 and older backed the aid, along with 75% of Jewish respondents. Among Jews, 18% oppose aid to Israel.
Positions on aid did not diverge sharply along party lines, though Republicans were slightly more supportive. Among Democrats, 47% were against aid to Israel and 43% were in favor, while 43% of independents oppose aid and 38% support it. Among Republicans, 46% supported aid and 44% opposed it.
The poll queried 807 New York state voters between January 14-17, and had a margin of error of 4.5%. Margins of error for the subgroups were slightly higher.
The poll also appeared to show a drop in support for aid to Israel among denizens of New York City in particular. A poll by Quinnipiac University last month found that residents of the five boroughs were split, with 46% opposed to sending military aid to Israel, and 45% in favor.
But in this week’s Siena poll, 53% of the city’s residents opposed aid to Israel and 35% supported it.
Subgroups of younger voters, and those with lower incomes, were also less supportive of aid to Israel. In addition, half of white voters supported aid to Israel, while 40% opposed it. Thirty percent of both Black and Latino voters supported the aid, with 56% and 46% of those groups, respectively, in opposition.
The survey also asked about aid to Ukraine, which proved slightly more popular, with half of voters in favor and 40% against. On that issue, there were wider partisan gaps: 63% of Democrats supported more military and economic aid to Ukraine, compared to 26% of Republicans.
Ukraine aid was more popular than aid to Israel among all racial and age groups except Jews, who were still largely supportive of it at 70%.
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US Office for Civil Rights Investigating Northwestern University Over Alleged Ignored Antisemitism Complaints
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Northwestern University to determine whether it ignored allegations of antisemitic discrimination and harassment after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, because the students who lodged them are Jewish, according to a report from higher education watchdog Campus Reform published on Tuesday.
The investigation, Campus Reform said, followed a complaint filed by its editor-in-chief, Zachary Marschall, who cited, among other things, Northwestern’s alleged nonresponse to the projection of a Palestinian flag onto a school building, an academic program’s defending Hamas as a “political group,” and severe maltreatment of Jewish students, as cause to review the school’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination based on race and national origin.
“The university will respond to the Department of Education and cooperate with its investigation,” Northwestern spokesperson Jon Yates said in a statement to The Daily Northwestern on Wednesday. “The complaint against Northwestern was not filed by a member of our community but instead by an outside organization.”
In November, dozens of Northwestern University student groups and faculty castigated President Michael Schill for dismissing concerns about rising antisemitism as “mass hysteria and collective psychosis.” A month later, the university strongly denounced accusations that it harbors antisemites and pro-Hamas faculty and students, responding to an advertising campaign launched by Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF), a campus antisemitism watchdog, that made such charges.
In 2016, the school appeared on The Algemeiner’s 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students list for the presence of pro-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) groups on the campus and several antisemitic incidents involving expressions of Nazism.
Additionally, an incident occurred at the school when members of Students for Justice in Palestine tacked together copies of an op-ed by a Jewish student — Lily Cohen — graffitied it with the slogan, “From the river to the sea,” and zip-tied it to fences enclosing the Deering Library. SJP then painted the same slogan, which is interpreted as calling for the ethnic cleansing of Jews living in Israel, on a campus monument that serves as an unofficial student messaging board.
Cohen’s op-ed discussed the difficulties of being Jewish in a time of rising antisemitism and defended the right to a Jewish homeland.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
UN chief to sit out Park East Synagogue Holocaust event for first time in 10 years
(New York Jewish Week) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will not make his usual appearance at a prominent New York City synagogue’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day event this year.
Guterres and his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon have been featured guests at the annual event at Park East Synagogue for at least the past decade. But this year, Guterres said he would sit the event out because it should be centered on survivors, as well as the “pain” of the Jewish community as it contends with antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“Following the terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, and the subsequent rise of anti-semitism and the continued pain of the community, the Saturday service at Park East Synagogue will be focused on healing and the testimony of survivors,” a spokesperson for Guterres told the New York Jewish Week via email. “It will not [be] an event for the diplomatic community so, therefore, the Secretary-General will not be attending.”
It was unclear if the decision to exclude Guterres from the ceremony was made by the synagogue or the secretary-general, or mutually. It will be held at the Upper East Side Orthodox congregation on Saturday, Jan. 27, a date designated by the U.N. General Assembly in 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In response to an inquiry, Park East said via email that this year’s event “will focus on the Shoah and the barbaric attack on Israel on October 7th, the kidnapped, the rise of worldwide anti-Semitism, and internal pain.”
Israel’s acting consul general in New York, Aviv Ezra, will attend the event, alongside the synagogue’s rabbi, Arthur Schneier, and the families of Holocaust survivors. The event will include testimony from a former Gaza hostage and from the brother and sister of a hostage still held by Hamas, the synagogue said.
Guterres’ absence from the event will come as he has faced heavy criticism from Israel and its supporters for his response to the war. He has condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, but on Oct. 25, he incensed Israelis by saying that the Hamas attack “did not happen in a vacuum,” linking the terrorist atrocities to occupation, settlements and economic woes. That statement led Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, to call for Guterres’ resignation.
Guterres is also not expected to attend a Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted by the Israeli mission to the U.N. on Wednesday, the mission said. The U.N. chief will attend a Friday memorial ceremony at U.N. headquarters that will be attended by Erdan and the State Department’s antisemitism envoy, Deborah Lipstadt, according to the U.N schedule.
Israeli advocates have pressed Guterres to speak out more forcefully in support of the Hamas hostages, with weekly protests outside his Sutton Place home. The protesters have formed a relationship with the U.N. chief but still believe he should do more to support the captives by speaking out unequivocally, and without accompanying condemnation of Hamas with criticism of Israel.
One of the leaders of the protest group, Shany Granot-Lubaton, said Guterres not appearing at the Park East Synagogue event is a “missed opportunity.”
“This year, after the Jewish people have suffered the worst massacre since the Holocaust, when a sadistic and cruel terrorist organization murdered, raped, abused, kidnapped, and burned entire families —Guterres’ presence at a synagogue would send a crucial message to the world,” she said, adding that the protest group would invite Guterres to other Holocaust memorial ceremonies with Jewish community members.
“We hope he chooses to go and show his support,” Granot-Lubaton said.
Guterres has delivered a speech at Park East for International Holocaust Remembrance Day each year since he assumed office in 2017. Last year, Guterres said it was “an enormous privilege” to speak at the event.
“The Holocaust did not happen as a ‘lesson’ for humanity. But, it did happen. And because it happened, it may happen again,” he said. “We must be forever vigilant. Antisemitism has been described as the canary in the coal mine of freedom. Throughout millennia, the persecution of Jews was a mark of rotten societies.”
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With Oct. 7 on their minds, Jewish teens head to gathering of thousands with renewed sense of priorities
When 18-year-old TJ Katz was elected last February to be international president of BBYO after four years of deep involvement with the Jewish youth organization, the New Jersey teen was exceedingly excited.
Serving as the face of a movement that reaches over 70,000 teens in 62 countries, Katz told an interviewer, put him in a unique position “to tangibly impact the lives of thousands of people.”
After graduating high school, Katz deferred admission by a year to the University of Florida to focus on his role as BBYO’s so-called Grand Aleph Godol — top leader — just as the organization was on the threshold of celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Then came Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and the ensuing surge in antisemitic and anti-Israel ferment.
“My inbox was flooded with hundreds of emails from teens genuinely ready to unite and do what they can to help,” Katz said of the response to Oct. 7. “There has never been a more monumental time to unite.”
Now BBYO is preparing for its International Convention (IC), to be held this year in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 15-19. Over 3,700 teens will come together for the largest annual Jewish teen gathering in America not only to herald the 100th year of BBYO, known years ago as the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, but to find support, strength and solidarity at a challenging time. Many teens come to IC from communities where they are among the only Jews.
This won’t be the first major national gathering of BBYO teens since Oct. 7. Thousands of BBYO teens from around the country joined the over 250,000 participants at the March for Israel on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2023.
“As I walked into the rally, I immediately began seeing friends from around the country,” Josh Danziger, a high school senior from Houston, wrote in The Shofar, a BBYO online publication. “Jewish teens overcame differences in background, practice, and belief because of an authentic love for Am Yisrael.”
In a sign of the concerns that were occupying the minds of Jewish teens even before Hamas’s attack on Israel, Danziger launched a Jewish Security Alliance with other BBYO teens last year. The impetus was the 2022 attack at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, by a gunman who took several people hostage. The alliance trains young Jews across the country to prepare for potential antisemitic threats, anti-Israel harassment, physical violence or an active shooter situation. Danziger and some of his BBYO peers also formed an Antisemitism Response Club to bring teens together for discussions and events.
“I feel a responsibility to my people,” Danziger said. “I want my peers to know what to do. As Jews, we have a religious obligation to protect and take care of our community.”
Shortly after Oct. 7, BBYO’s CEO, Matt Grossman, embarked on a multicity listening tour to understand how Jewish teens were feeling, what resources they needed, and where they see their role in building a hopeful and secure Jewish future.
“While on the listening tour, I was particularly interested in hearing how teens’ lives have changed since the October 7 terrorist attack in Israel,” Grossman said. “This was not a political discussion but a human and emotional one.”
Among the things Grossman heard was how important it is for Jewish teens to be with Jewish peers at a time when they are feeling particularly isolated.
“Being in an environment with other BBYO teens is like a breath of fresh air,” said Denver teen Jacob Malek. “When you go into a meeting, you don’t have to worry about who you tell you’re Jewish; you can just be you. You don’t have to think about what if someone else thinks of you differently because you’re Jewish; being Jewish is the reason that you guys are together.”
BBYO put together a resource page on its website with webinars, articles, and special events to help parents and teens respond effectively to antisemitism and hate in their communities, schools, and on social media. Together with the Anti-Defamation League, BBYO also created a joint website for teens to report antisemitic incidents.
“As a teen-led organization, one of the things we always have to measure is what we talk about and think about and how we lead BBYO as a movement even in difficult times,” Grossman said. “Jewish teens will never be alone because they have BBYO. And that’s an amazing gift.”
BBYO was founded on May 3, 1924 as the Jewish teen group Aleph Zadik Aleph by a group of 14 young Jewish men in Omaha, Nebraska. Twenty years later, an assembly of young women founded B’nai B’rith Girls, and together the two organizations eventually became BBYO. It now has more than 725 chapters and an alumni network of over 400,000.
Due to unprecedented demand to attend, IC 2024 will be the largest-ever convention in BBYO’s history. Over 5,500 attendees representing 46 countries are expected, including teens, donors, parents, alumni, educators and influencers.
Over the course of five days, the convention, whose theme is “Forever Young,” aims to shape the narrative of how teens combat antisemitism, embrace democracy, and fuel their enthusiasm for making a difference in their communities and worldwide, according to organizers. The teens will hear from and meet inspiring speakers, get leadership skills training, serve the local community, learn together, celebrate Shabbat and have access to exclusive music performances.
A Museum of BBYO and the election of the 100th board of Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA) and the 80th of B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG) will honor the movement’s history.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Debbie Shemony, BBYO’s senior vice president for marketing and communications. “It will impact the attendees in ways we can’t even imagine yet.”
Over the course of 2024, BBYO chapters in cities around the world will host large-scale centennial celebrations, and the movement will launch an initiative for teens to log a collective 100,000 hours of community service.
For many attendees, IC is a much-anticipated reunion with their peers. Teens who have participated in the summer leadership and travel program offered by the organization can reconnect with friends from around the country – and sometimes the globe.
Last summer, Emma Gornstein, a high school junior from Ardsley, New York, participated in both a chapter leadership training institute at BBYO’s summer home in Starlight, Pennsylvania, and a BBYO Passport travel experience to Central Europe.
“They were amazing experiences and I learned so much,” said Gornstein, who has been active in BBYO since eighth grade. “I’m looking forward to a lot of reunions at IC.”
Even if IC is one of your first experiences with BBYO, she said, “the energy there is contagious and you are bound to make at least one friend.”
Rabbi Daniel Septimus, a former BBYO international president who is now the CEO of Austin’s Jewish community center, Shalom Austin, said the movement is a terrific framework for connecting Jewish teens locally, regionally and globally, and bringing them together for leadership opportunities.
“BBYO is doing an incredible job of really teaching the value of K’lal Yisrael, of Jewish peoplehood, and that we are all bound to each other,” Septimus said.
His daughter, high school sophomore Talia Septimus, represents the third generation of the family’s involvement in BBYO.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Talia said. “I love that my grandparents and parents had their own ways of being involved in BBYO, yet I can take my own path.”