Sample Letter to Denver City Council for November 27, 2023

Nov 27, 2023 | Article, JCRC

Sample Letter to Denver City Council for November 27, 2023

Nov 27, 2023

Denver City Council Remarks

Thank you President Torres and council members for giving me a chance to address you and share some of the Jewish community’s response to the weeks of protest and provocation that have taken place in this chamber. My name is Dr. Dan Leshem, and I am the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Colorado. We are an organization that includes representatives of 40 of the largest Jewish communal organizations in the state and a mandate to advocate on behalf of community needs.

First, we recognize that the city council has no agenda item on the Jewish National Fund Global Conference and that Convention Center events are beyond the scope of City Council discussion. That said, we appreciate that you have not undertaken any symbolic declarations that would only sew more division in our community.

We are proud of Denver and encourage the entire city to take pride in hosting the JNF Global conference and to join us in celebrating all the amazing work they do in Israel from supporting disabled communities to developing technologies to support desert agriculture—including the drip irrigation that is saving water and supporting farmers throughout Colorado.

We object to the way the Jewish National Fund has been portrayed. JNF supports all Israelis, no matter their background, faith, or politics. In a country where more than 20% of Israelis are not Jewish, JNF is a non-religious, non-political humanitarian NGO that serves all Israelis— Bedouins, Druze, Arabs, Palestinians, and other national, religious, and identity groups. For example, JNF partners with organizations like Wadi Attir helping educate Bedouins with new farming techniques and with the Arava Institute that bring Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians together for environmental studies and agriculture. JNF works with those with special needs and disabilities, builds hospitals and search and rescue centers—everything they do is to create a better life for all residents of Israel, Jews, Muslims, Druze, and other ethnic identities. JNF embodies the shared values that Israel and America hold dear including a dedication to protecting the lives and liberties of all civilians, irrespective of race or religion.

Finally, whenever people speak out about the current cycle of violence in middle east that was initiated by Hamas, we encourage them to speak out on behalf of the 200+ kidnapped who have been held captive in underground tunnels for more than 7 weeks and include young children and elders rather than on behalf of the terrorists who broke a ceasefire to murder, rape, pillage and terrorize innocent civilians along the Israeli border with Gaza. While the Jewish community understands that foreign affairs is not the purview of the Denver City Council, we do want to share that we have seen the increase of divisive and at times antisemitic rhetoric and even the violence that has emerged in cities across the country. The Jewish community mourns not only the loss of civilian life on both sides of the conflict in Israel but also our dream that America would be a place of ultimate freedom and safety for all, including the Jewish community in Denver who are now experiencing unprecedented antisemitism and living with increased anxiety for themselves and their children, because of their Jewish identity. We are committed to restoring the safety, security, and trust in American communities because it is what we need and what we believe in. We invite all our well-meaning neighbors, friends, and allies to join us in this effort.