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Am Echad weekly update for the week of March 20, 2022

The Conversion Reform

  • The government takes advantage of timing to approve the conversion plan

In a clear display of lack of sensitivity, the Israeli government approved Minister Matan Kahana's plan to let city rabbis perform conversions, while most of the Jewish world is mourning the passing of Rabbi Chaim Kanevsky. Kahana chose this path after the plan was blocked by the Knesset and could not be approved before the Knesset returns for its summer session. During the government discussion of the plan, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Pnina Tamanu-Shata said that "there are thousands of Olim (immigrants) who are in need of conversion, those who are grandchildren of Jews but are not Jewish according to Halacha, we have to help them." She added that "we have an opportunity to advance those issues." (JDN)


BDS and Antisemitism

  • Reform leaders call on the State of Illinois government to support BDS

An array of leaders and cantors, mostly from the Reform movement, sent a letter to the Illinois government not to divest from companies which support BDS against Israel. While some of the members of the Truah organization, claimed they do not support BDS, they called the BDS movement a "non-violent call" against Israel, while ignoring clear past statements by the movement's leaders against the very existence of Israel. The signatories protested against divesting from Unilever, whose subsidiary Ben & Jerry's boycotted Israel, and from Morningstar, whose subsidiary supports the boycott of Israel as well. (Truah)


  • IfNotNow supports the antisemitic attack by Amnesty head against Israel

While organizations from across the political spectrum condemned Amnesty US director Paul O'Brien’s statement that Israel "shouldn't exist as a Jewish state," the progressive organization IfNotNow tweeted a thread in support of O'Brien, writing that "O'Brien must grow in how he talks about the Jewish community, but he's still right about the problem." The problem, according to the organization, is one of O'Brien lies, claiming that Israel is "racially oppressing" "another group", referring to Israeli-Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post, Jewish Insider, Twitter)


  • Concerns over rise in BDS efforts at US universities

Students for Justice for Palestine chapter in Tufts University launched a new campaign to boycott Israel, and this time their efforts include a new, concerning twist. They are working to get students not just to boycott Israeli products, but also to sign that they will refuse to participate in campus programs which support Israel, including the local J-Street chapter. The campaign asks the students not to join Birthright tours or a campus program that deals with dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the University of Virginia, Jewish students managed to block plans by the university to condemn Israel and to block pro-Israel speakers from speaking on campus.


Meanwhile, a study published last week shows a connection between faculty members’ support for BDS and students’ antisemitic sentiments. (Jerusalem Post, Legal Insurrection, Jewish Journal)