Jewish groups blast Virginia State Bar for canceling Jerusalem seminar

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and B’nai B’rith International condemned the Virginia State Bar for canceling a legal seminar in Jerusalem.

“It’s a reprehensible decision,” JCRC executive director Ron Halber told the Washington Jewish Week on March 30. “It’s based on politics. It’s not based on logic.”

In a letter sent to members on March 27, Kevin Martingayle, president of the Virginia State Bar, said the Midyear Legal Seminar trip to Jerusalem scheduled for November would be changed to another venue due to “unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security.”

On March 30, the JCRC released a statement calling on the bar to “immediately release all documents related to this decision” and for the “immediate reinstatement of the trip to Israel and for the bar to apologize to its membership and the people of Virginia.”

The JCRC also said the decision “provides comfort and a rallying cry for supporters of BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

A petition signed by 39 state bar members had called on the agency to cancel the trip, objecting to Israel’s “discriminatory entry and exit policies for U.S. citizens, particularly against visiting Arab- and Muslim-Americans.” The petition was closed after the decision to cancel the trip. — jta