Gun Lobby Appropriating Holocaust Imagery

July 21, 2014

There are debates over policy that are civil and there are debates that are fueled by disrespect, racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. The new gun store and firing range being proposed in the Chicago suburb of Niles has generated conversation on both sides of the issue. People can have differences of opinion but it is never acceptable to utilize images of Nazis and the Holocaust to make one’s point. One of the largest online gun lobby media outlets, AmmoLand, published a call to action for their supporters that included explicit and offensive Nazi images along with misogynist anti-women language. AmmoLand, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association, are urging their supporters to attend the upcoming Niles Trustees Meeting (Tuesday, July 22nd, 7:00 PM at 1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL) to voice their support for this store and firing range at the final vote on the matter by explicitly attacking women and labeling those who support sensible gun policies as Nazis.

Example of gun lobby Holocaust imagery

The establishment, if opened, will be next door to several schools, including Niles West High School. Business owners have gone on record stating that it will negatively impact their livelihoods and community members testified to the emotional and psychological toll it would take on them hearing bullets being fired all day during business hours. JCUA was present for the second hearing for the special use permit at the Niles Plan Commission Meeting and testified against opening the store in the proposed location. Nonetheless, the Plan Commission voted 5-2 to send the proposal up to the Niles Trustees for a final vote. It is imperative that those who support our kids having a safe neighborhood to go to school in and those who support stopping the flow of guns into the City of Chicago from neighboring suburban gun stores come to this meeting tomorrow and voice their opposition to this gun store. The gun lobby is using fear mongering, hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric to rouse their supporters to the meeting. We must be present with common sense, clarity and civility. Please attend the meeting tomorrow.

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Attend The Niles Trustees Meeting

What: Final vote on new gun store and firing range 

Where: Niles Municipal Building (1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL)

When: Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm (come early to get a seat)

Let us know you are coming by clicking here!


JCUA Responds to This Past Weekend’s Violence

April 14, 2014

As Jews across the country prepare for Passover, I am with my extended family in Los Angeles. Though the metropolitan area here is more than triple the size of Chicago, it is the Chicago weekend violence statistics that I am following, along with the shootings at two Jewish Community facilities in metropolitan Kansas City . It is a bloody, violent weekend.

Image

We all feel the reverberations of gunfire. We mourn the victims who we don’t know and will never meet. We mourn with the parents, children, and grandchildren left behind, bereft and shell-shocked. 

JCUA’s Justice Seder earlier this month was entitled “From Handguns to Hope”. Those who attended were moved and inspired, and left feeling a little more powerful and a little less helpless. We must strengthen our resolve to come together in solidarity with those who are suffering to address this scourge, the modern-day plague of rampant gun violence.

On the eve of Passover, as we recall and retell the story of our peoples’ oppression, let us remember the communities who suffered great loss this weekend, and all due to gun violence. It has to stop.

Please join us. We need to pull together now more than ever.

Judy Levey, Exec. Dir.

P.S. In the wake of these shootings, we are more committed than ever to the work of our partners responding to gun violence.  Fierce Women Of Faith are sponsoring a Mother/Son Dialogue on May 1st at the DuSable Museum.  Click here for more information.


Why We Work With Our Local CAIR Chapter (Op-Ed in Zeek Magazine)

October 23, 2013

(Read full op-ed in Zeek Magazine)

Last week, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) hired its first non-Muslim executive director. What’s more, he’s Jewish.

CAIR-Chicago members protesting against anti-Semitism

CAIR-Chicago members protesting against anti-Semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward recently covered this story, including the criticism this has garnered in the Jewish community. The article quotes one Jewish leader saying that CAIR is “far off the radar screen of the Jewish community,” but the Jewish community is far from monolithic. The JCUA has been partnering with CAIR-Chicago for more than seven years.

In an article in Zeek Magazine, JCUA’s Asaf Bar-Tura explains why it is essential that the Jewish community partner with CAIR and other Muslim organizations. His bottom line:

“The question is not whether we can afford to work with CAIR, but whether we can afford not to.”

Click to read the full article.


MLK Day of Action: A Declaration of “the Most Evident of Truths”

January 28, 2013
Roy, Stacy, Hana, Joel, Sam at Bright Star

Roy, Stacy, Hana, Joel, Sam at Bright Star

By Rebecca Katz, JCUA Manager of Teen Programs

On Monday, January 21st, around 100 people came together for an MLK Day of Action, an interfaith and intergenerational event organized by Anshe Emet Synagogue, Bright Star Church, and JCUA’s Or Tzedek.

Moved by the legacy of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on his federal holiday and President Barack Obama’s historic second inauguration, children, teens and adults from Chicago’s Jewish and African American communities committed their considerable energy, time, and passion to renew their shared commitment to create social justice in their city.

While the temperatures outside were freezing, people inside Bright Star Church talked of the warmth they felt, generated by the openness of all participants to share their own experiences and listen to the assets and challenges of another community.

Rabbi David Russo, Pastor Chris Harris and Rebecca Katz emphasized throughout the day that this was only the beginning of a relationship between both communities; “Lehitraot,” or “see you soon,” were Rabbi Russo’s parting words.

Read the rest of this entry »


JCUA Partners to Create an Inter-Religious Rapid Response Network

December 18, 2012

For the past few months JCUA has been in conversation with partnering faith organizations in an effort to create a unique model of inter-religious collaboration in times of crisis. These conversations have led to the creation of the Chicagoland Inter-Religious Rapid Response Network (CIRRN).

Stop the RacismIn a final planning meeting on December 7th, hosted by JCUA and facilitated by Asaf Bar-Tura – JCUA’s director of programs – Network partner organizations met to finalize the goals and guidelines for the newly formed CIRRN.

The CIRRN states its purpose as “to streamline communication dedicated to mobilizing multi-faith responses to acts of hate and discrimination targeting faith communities in Chicago and its collar counties.”

As explained by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Network aims to provide solace to the victims, and to make a stand against all faith-based hate crimes and discrimination by standing strong and providing a united front regardless of religious background.  CIRRN plans to achieve this through a listserve that connects between the leading religious organizations in Chicago to promote communication, provide up-to-date information, and present opportunities for engagement in the aftermath of any incident targeting a faith-based community.  This will allow the various faiths to remain informed on incidents of any kind, and will facilitate a rapid response from all representatives.

This network is the first of its kind in Chicago, and a model to be learned from and implemented across the nation.

For more information please contact Asaf Bar-Tura at asaf@jcua.org


In the Media: JCUA’s Response to Anti-Muslim Bus Ads

November 16, 2012



People Responding to JCUA’s Social Media Anti-Hate Campaign

November 16, 2012

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2012, JCUA responded to anti-Muslim ads posted on CTA buses by launching a social media campaign titled “Not in My Chicago.” Since then, JCUA’s response has been covered by many media outlets (see here for full media coverage).

But perhaps most inspiring have been the responses in the community, of Jews and non-Jews alike. We thank you for your support. Here’s are just a bit of your comments:

Thank you for your support and commitment to our work!


JCUA joins media campaign contra Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike

October 22, 2012

JCUA takes action in solidarity with the Muslim community in the face of hate speech and ignorance, and participates in media campaign to reclaim the meaning of the Islamic concept of “Jihad” from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike.
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In late September, 2012 the anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller put up inflammatory ads in the New York City subway stations, which read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad” (see here). New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority at first refused to put up such hateful signs, but was forced by a court order to oblige Geller.

Many in the New York Jewish community have responded strongly, including a counter-campaign by Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, who put up subway signs reading “Choose love.”

Here in Chicago, the Muslim community has decided that a significant point has been overlooked on both sides. At the heart of the problem is the blatant misuse of the word “Jihad” as if it were an acceptable synonym of say “terrorism.”

Indeed, many Americans remain confused about the meaning of the concept of Jihad in Islamic tradition. Led by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the Muslim community has decided to reclaim the meaning of Jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike.

Read the rest of this entry »


10/22/12 Online Event: “Webinar: Coordinating Multi-Faith Partnerships To End Anti-Muslim Sentiment”

September 28, 2012

Asaf Bar-Tura, JCUA’s Director of Programs will speak at an interactive online gathering where faith leaders discuss strategies to combat anti-Muslim sentiments and actions on Monday, Oct. 22, 3:00 CST. To RSVP, please email Asaf Bar-Tura (asaf@jcua.org).

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Bar-Tura speaking about Islamophobia and anti-Semitism at a previous conference

In the beginning of August, America watched as shootings, fires and vandalism targeted American Muslims and American Sikhs.  At least six communities in one week saw acts of hate perpetrated on their places of worship.

Here in the Chicagoland Area we saw:

Read the rest of this entry »


JCUA’s Leadership on Jewish-Muslim Relations Gets National Attention

September 12, 2012

JCUA’s groundbreaking collaborations with the Muslim community continues to get national attention. This recently published article discusses the Jewish community’s willingness (and often lack thereof) to engage in important partnerships with the Muslim community. JCUA is mentioned as one of the exceptions. The authors write:

“When Jewish groups and individual Jews don’t apply such a litmus test, they can easily find themselves criticized by others in the community for having relationships with those considered “unacceptable” Muslim partners.

Some of the Jewish organizations whose leaders we interviewed have firmly rejected an Israel-related litmus test in their work with Muslim or Arab American partners. Asaf Bar-Tura, coordinator of the JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, told us in an August 2011 interview, that the JCUA opposes a strategy that involves “urging a coalition to drop a member. JCUA won’t do that.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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