JCPA Launches 'Action Networks' to Combat Antisemitism and Protect Democracy

Amy Spitalnik, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, launches the "Action Networks" program to combat antisemitism and protect democracy. The program aims to unite Jewish groups and partners around key issues amidst rising anti-Israel incidents and polarization.

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JCPA Launches 'Action Networks' to Combat Antisemitism and Protect Democracy

JCPA Launches 'Action Networks' to Combat Antisemitism and Protect Democracy

Amy Spitalnik, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), has announced the "Action Networks" program to combat antisemitism and protect democracy. The program aims to organize Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs), other Jewish groups, and their partners around two key issues: Protecting Democracy and Combating Bigotry.

Why this matters: The rise of antisemitism and threats to democracy have far-reaching implications for social cohesion and political stability, affecting not only the Jewish community but also the broader society. As polarization and hate crimes increase, initiatives like the "Action Networks" program are crucial in promoting unity and combating discrimination.

The JCPA, which has 125 local JCRCs as members, has struggled in recent years due to polarization within the Jewish community. Bitter fights over issues like the Iran nuclear deal and Black Lives Matter led to a decline in funding and institutional support. In 2022, the JCPA split from its longtime benefactor, the Jewish federation system, and rebranded as a more explicitly progressive group.

Spitalnik, 38, represents a new generation of Jewish leaders and insists that it is not partisan to call out threats to democracy, even when they come from a former and perhaps future president. "Being an ally doesn't mean putting an Israeli flag on your front door and saying you support every action of the Israeli government. It means recognizing Jewish pain and believing that the hostages should be released and that what happened on Oct 7 was heinous and unacceptable, even if you also oppose Israel's actions in Gaza and the Netanyahu government," Spitalnik said.

Spitalnik, who is best known for leading Integrity First for America, a successful multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, believes that threats to democracy and the rise of hate are connected on both ends of the political spectrum. She also expressed concern about campus pro-Palestinian protests and the responses to them, stating, "It's not good for Jews, it's not good for students, and it's not good for higher education."

"When the vast majority of American Jews identify as Zionist, it effectively becomes a form of antisemitic discrimination to say Zionists are not welcome here," Spitalnik said. The JCPA has not held its annual plenum, a sort of Jewish parliament, in several years, replacing it with a Delegates Assembly.

The launch of the "Action Networks" program comes amidst rising anti-Israel incidents and growing polarization within Jewish communities. Spitalnik and the JCPA hope that by organizing around key issues like protecting democracy and combating bigotry, they can help unite Jewish groups and their partners to address these pressing challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • Amy Spitalnik launches "Action Networks" to combat antisemitism and protect democracy.
  • The program aims to unite Jewish groups and partners around two key issues.
  • Rise of antisemitism and threats to democracy affect social cohesion and stability.
  • JCPA has struggled with polarization and funding decline in recent years.
  • Spitalnik believes threats to democracy and hate are connected across the political spectrum.