JCRC to ramp up offensive vs. BDS

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As anti-Israel activism spreads on campuses and in other venues, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council is planning to take a more proactive approach, the agency’s future executive director told J. this week.

“JCRC has been working on the frontlines to combat the BDS movement, whose epicenter is in the Bay Area,” said Abby Michelson Porth, tabbed to take over after Rabbi Doug Kahn retires next year.

“Today, JCRC is significantly ramping up its proactive efforts to disrupt the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.”

Porth told J. she could not be more specific at this point, although the JCRC schedule does show an upcoming event titled “Understanding BDS on College Campuses.” Set for April 29 at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, the event will include breakout sessions for teens and adults, and a panel presentation by San Francisco State Jewish studies professor Marc Dollinger, Bears for Israel (U.C. Berkeley) president Becca Berman and Kahn.

Porth made similar comments when she spoke at an April 12 symposium at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. Sponsored by Berkeley’s Lehrhaus Judaica, “Jewish Life in an Era of Extremism” included professors who covered anti-Semitic hot zones in Europe, the Middle East and the Bay Area.

Porth’s talk focused on the proliferation and vitriol of the BDS movement locally.

“When we feel attacked, the visceral reaction is to become insular,” Porth told J. later. “This serves no one, nor our values or aspirations. The antidote to extremism and BDS is to redouble our community’s civic affairs and coalition building, and proudly wear our Jewish identities in the workplace and the community.” — j. staff