JCRC chooses its battles carefully

Feb 9, 2024 | Article, JCRC

Dear Editor of the IJN,

We read your article and the letter to the editor from Dr. Tashof Bernton, et al. with some surprise. All of it seems to lack a fundamental curiosity about how the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) works and instead gravitates towards simplistic, black-and-white, “with us” or “against us” views of the Jewish community.

The JCRC is not a singular entity but a council with representation from 40 of the largest Jewish community organizations in the state, many of which heard directly from Rep. Weinberg and Dr. Bernton in our Education & Legislative Committee and voted unanimously against supporting the resolution.

Our decision to not support the resolution at this time is one based on a bigger strategy to deliver critical policy for the Jewish Community in a challenging legislature.

One example of this is our current focus on defeating the BDS bill that was recently introduced in the House where a single representative is trying to repeal an anti-BDS law the JCRC led to passage in 2016. We will be the lead agency that defeats this repeal bill this session.

The notion that the JCRC voting not to support this symbolic and non-binding resolution is proof that we are “doing nothing” or “ignoring” antisemitism is preposterous.

For example, this past December, the JCRC successfully lobbied for a $1,000,000 supplement to the Non-Profit Security Grant bill we led to passage in 2022 since October 7th.

In early January, when the awards were given, seven additional Jewish organizations were awarded grants that had previously been rejected. We have also secured many pro-Israel statements from elected officials, as well as convinced others to withdraw anti-Israel statements.

We can deliver these vital resources to the community because our painstaking work building and nurturing relationships with elected officials—especially through taking nearly 100 Colorado public officials to Israel over the past 20 years.

Another example that is still ongoing is work we have been doing to ensure that Denver City Council does not pass a Gaza ceasefire resolution. Our argument to them that is proving effective is that it is not the role of local elected officials to opine on international relations.

In conclusion, not every fight is the right fight to take on. We are careful to choose our battles and focus where we can do the most good. It is easy to not engage in the conversation and then criticize the outcome.

We ask that anyone interested in these discussions come join our JCRC meetings and engage in the work we do.

The only secretive part of the JCRC is that it is a fantastic way to serve the Jewish Community and we want your views and help.

Dr. Dan Leshem, JCRC Director
Matt Most, JCRC Chair