JUF News Express
Friday, March 02, 2012Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• JUF, elected officials press ahead on state, local Iran divestment

• Campus initiatives counter Apartheid Week activities

• Iran strategy at core of Monday's Netanyahu-Obama meeting

• Hamas leader, once indicted in Chicago, flees Syria for Egypt

• Batsheva Dance Company at Auditorium March 17-18

• Voting reminder

• National appeal urging pope to help free Alan Gross launched by D.C.'s JCRC

• From JUFNews.org


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JUF, elected officials press ahead on state, local Iran divestment

At this week's Jewish Community Relations Council meeting, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (on right in photo) certified that, following a scan he initiated, the state's entire investment portfolio is devoid of any holdings in companies conducting business with Iran including, but not limited to, oil, petroleum, and mineral-extraction activities.

The treasurer, who is leading a JUF mission to Israel later this spring, was a co-sponsor, during his tenure in the Illinois Senate, of the Iran divestment bill that led the state to divest some $133 million from foreign companies assisting Iran's sector.

The Associated Press reported The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago played a key role in the passage of [that] 2007 Iran divestment law in Illinois. Jay Tcath of the group says the law required the state's pension funds to divest from Iran, but there was no such obligation placed upon state funds managed by the treasurer's office [and he praised the state treasurer for voluntarily following the principles of the law].

Meanwhile, JUF's JCRC, in partnership with local elected officials, also is spearheading efforts to have both Cook County and the City of Chicago divest from Iran, as well.

Yesterday, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling for the county's pension funds to divest from companies doing business with Iran's energy sector. Skip Schrayer, Chairman of the JUF/JF Board of Directors, testified on behalf of the resolution, which was introduced and championed by Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who chairs the county's Finance-Pension Committee.

On March 19, the Chicago City Council's Commission on Human Relations will take up its own resolution, calling for similar action at the city's largest pension fund. JUF Board member Jason Friedman and several non-Jewish allies will testify on behalf of the resolution. JUF also is working with City Treasurer Stephanie D. Neely.

Campus initiatives counter Apartheid Week activities

Campuses around the nation, including Illinois, are confronting the 8th annual Israel Apartheid Week, arranged by anti-Israel organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

Apartheid weeks have included mock check-points meant to hassle students, apartheid walls erected to misrepresent Israel's anti-terror barrier, and speakers touring campuses calling for boycotts, divestment, and international sanctions against the Jewish State.

To provide the necessary resources for students to address anti-Israel activities, JUF's Israel Education Center developed "The Playbook," a detailed step-by-step guide to effective responses. It also is a comprehensive tool designed to motivate students to take back the conversation about Israel with tenacity, perseverance and professionalism.

In an effort to pre-empt Israel Apartheid Week activities, pro-Israel activists on campuses across Illinois decided on a different approach. Instead of responding, reacting or countering the rhetoric, students produced Israel Peace Week, their own series of events highlighting the Israel they know, love and defend. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, for example (photo at left), members of the ROTC cadet corps heard former Israeli soldiers discuss "The Ethics of the Israeli Army."

Since fall, pro-Israel students have reached out to their peers, building coalitions with other student groups, including Latino Cultural Associations, ROTCs, disability centers and others. They have invited them to join as allies in promoting everything Israel does for peace, even in the face of countless obstacles.

Photo courtesy Stand With Us

Iran strategy at core of Monday's Netanyahu-Obama meeting

On the eve of Monday's White House meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama, and their separate appearances at AIPAC's Policy Conference, attention is overwhelmingly focused on whether the leaders can find common ground on how best to deter Iran's nuclear program.

In a lengthy interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama again stresses that the United States "has Israel's back," and will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Sanctions, he said, are creating a "world of hurt," and can impact Iran's actions. "Without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested."

In a commentary in The New Republic, Yossi Klein Halevi says the fundamental question underlying Monday's meeting is "Can Israel trust the United States when it comes to Iran?" Beyond the current dynamic between the two nations and their leaders, Halevi says that question of trust is rooted in Israel's memory of commitments unfulfilled in May 1967, just weeks before the 1967 War.

Hamas leader, once indicted in Chicago, flees Syria for Egypt

Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy political bureau chief of Hamas, has apparently fled to Egypt from Syria to avoid mounting violence in the area, according to Haaretz.

The paper reported that Abu Marzouk admitted that "Hamas still has offices in Syria, but acknowledged that 'practically, we are no longer in Syria because we couldn't practice our duties there.'"

In 2003, Abu Marzouk and two other men were indicted in Chicago on federal charges related to involvement in terrorism. Politico reported this week that a "spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago said Sunday he believes the indictment of Abu Marzouk is still pending," but did not disclose any information about the possibility of bringing Abu Marzouk to stand trial.

For 15 years, JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council has monitored and exposed local groups and their leaders, including Mousa Abu Marzouk, connected to support for international terrorism.

Batsheva Dance Company at Auditorium March 17-18

Israel's acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company brings its North American tour to the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago March 17-18.

The performances, at 7:30 pm Saturday and 2 pm Sunday, will feature two works by the company's artistic director, Ohad Naharin: MAX and B/olero.

Tickets are available online, or by calling 800-982-2787.

As this dance group and this performance in particular have been targetted for a boycott by anti-Israel activists, in addition to the pure pleasure of enjoying Israel's finest dance troupe, ensuring that their performance is sold out and receeives an enthusiastic reception are additional reasons to attend.

Voting reminder

Illinois' March 20 primary for President, U.S. Representatives, State Representatives and Senators, and other vital public offices is less than three weeks away.

JCRC's voter resource guide offers valuable information on early voting options, verifying registration status, finding polling places, and identifying which offices you are eligible to vote for.

National appeal urging pope to help free Alan Gross launched by D.C.'s JCRC

In anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Cuba from March 26-28, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has launched a nationwide online petition appealing to the pope to help achieve the release of Alan Gross.

Gross, who is Jewish and has been imprisoned for more than two years, was found guilty last March of "acts against the independence of territorial integrity" in Cuba. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for delivering laptops and communications equipment to Cuba's small Jewish community under a State Department contract.

JUF's Washington, D.C., office has been very involved in this issue, most recently sending a letter thanking U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin for his efforts to free Gross. Last year, the office reached out to the entire Illinois congressional delegation to support Gross' release.

Sign the online petition urging Pope Benedict XVI to press for Gross' release.

From JUFNews.org

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