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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

New York State Assembly Passes Anti-BDS Resolution

Friday, June 19th, 2015

The New York State Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, becoming the latest state government to do so.

The resolution, introduced by Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (D-Brooklyn) and co-sponsored by 74 other members, rejects BDS activities that “undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination.”

The resolution states:

This Legislative Body is concerned that the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and its agenda are damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.

The resolution also recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and says the U.S. and Israel share “a common bond rooted in the values of freedom, democracy, and equal rights.”

The New York resolution follows anti-BDS measures in several other states, most recently in Illinois, which prohibited state pension funds from including in their portfolios companies that participate in the BDS movement. State legislatures in Indiana and Tennessee also recently passed resolutions condemning BDS, but those measures were non-binding, as opposed to the Illinois bill’s specific economic action.

Anti-BDS Bill Advances In Illinois State Legislature

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

The Illinois State House of Representatives Executive Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would prohibit state pension funds from including in their portfolios companies that participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The 10-0 committee vote follows the 49-0 passage of the measure in the Illinois State Senate and precedes a vote among the full Illinois House, after which point the bill would go to the desk of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for a signature into law.

B’nai B’rith International said in a statement that it “applauds Illinois citizens and their representatives for taking such a strong stance against a movement rooted in anti-Semitism that ultimately impedes the peace process by opposing constructive dialogue between Israel and Palestinians.”

State legislatures in Indiana and Tennessee last month passed resolutions condemning the BDS movement, but those measures were non-binding, as opposed to the Illinois legislation’s concrete economic action against BDS.

Indiana becomes 2nd State to Pass Anti-BDS Resolution

Friday, May 1st, 2015

The Indiana General Assembly has become the second-ever state legislature to pass a resolution that formally opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Tennessee lawmakers approved a similar measure on April 21.

Adopted in a voice vote, the Indiana Senate approved Resolution 74, which “expresses opposition to the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel” BDS movement.

The Senate’s move came after the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously (93-0) passed the anti-BDS House Resolution 59 on April 22. The measure now goes to Indiana Governor Mike Pence for his signature. Pence recently visited Israel and express his whole-hearted support for the country.

The Indiana bill contends that the global spread of anti-Jewish speech and violence “represents an attack, not only on Jews, but on the fundamental principles of the United States.” The resolution goes on to thank the presidents of Indiana University and Purdue University for “strongly” condemning the boycott of Israeli academic institutions after some faculty members and other staffers at those schools voiced support for the BDS movement.

Fight against Boycott Movement Moving to State Legislatures

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Resolutions condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in the Tennessee and Indiana state legislatures mark what a group of pro-Israel organizations and grassroots activists hope is just the start of a new trend in fighting BDS on American soil.

The Tennessee General Assembly on April 21 became the first state legislature in the U.S. to formally condemn the BDS movement through the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 170. The resolution was initiated by Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of the Christian Zionist group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN). Cardoza-Moore worked with local Jewish and Christian organizations to bring the resolution to the state legislature.

Cardoza-Moore said:

With the current climate of increasing anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, and anti-Zionist campaigns, Tennesseans and all people of conscience should endorse public statements of support for our Jewish brethren living in Tennessee and pro-Israel students attending colleges and universities in our state.

The resolution, initially passed April 9 by the Tennessee Senate in a 30-0 vote, was approved by the Tennessee House of Representatives in an overwhelming 93-1 vote 12 days later, with Democratic State Representative G.A. Hardaway the lone dissenter.

The measure, which is expected to be signed next week by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, declares that the BDS movement is “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” adding that BDS activities in Tennessee “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”

Furthermore, the resolution states that the BDS movement and its agenda are “inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all the peoples in the Middle East.”

According to a PJTN press release, “BDS has an active presence in Tennessee, particularly through The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a group that is a leader of BDS. UT (University of Tennessee) Knoxville alumnus Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, a leader in the U.S. Campaign, was this year’s keynote speaker at the national meeting of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a college campus group that has spearheaded anti-Israel demonstrations.”

Christians United for Israel (CUFI), whose 2 million-plus members make it America’s largest pro-Israel organization, strongly supported the anti-BDS resolution in Tennessee. CUFI’s coordinator in the region, Pastor Lyndon Allen, testified in support of the measure.

Also testifying before the same committee to advocate for the resolution was Mark S. Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, who said, “While the majority of delegitimization efforts are defeated, and support for Israel in the United States and in Tennessee remains strong, the opponents of Israel continue to make headway simply by poisoning the public discourse around Israel.” Freedman added that besides condemning divestment, Tennessee can go further by beginning “to think about investment in Israel.”

Joanne Bregman, a local Jewish activist and attorney who advocated for the resolution’s passage, told JNS.org that the Tennessee General Assembly’s action could serve as a template for other U.S. states to recognize the growing threats of the BDS movement and anti-Semitism. She added that the Christian-initiated bill should be a “wake-up call” for the Jewish community to be the ones “who need to fill the public information void” on BDS and anti-Semitism.

That effort is already underway, with the Indiana House of Representatives this week unanimously (93-0) passing a resolution that now moves to the Indiana Senate, after which point it is expected to be signed by Governor Mike Pence.

Similar to the Tennessee resolution, the Indiana measure “expresses opposition to the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel” BDS movement, adding that the global spread of anti-Jewish speech and violence “represents an attack, not only on Jews, but on the fundamental principles of the United States.” The resolution goes on to thank the presidents of Indiana University and Purdue University for “strongly” condemning the boycott of Israeli academic institutions after some faculty members and other staffers at those schools voiced support for the BDS movement.

Indiana Gov. Pence Sat with Abbas at Xmas Dinner but Refused Private Meeting

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Visiting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended a Christmas dinner hosted by Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas but snubbed Abbas’ presumptive attempt to talk with the governor at a private meeting.

The Indianapolis Star contradicted reports that Pence, a possible candidate for the GOP nomination as presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, did not attend the dinner with Abbas.

Pence, a devout Christian, is on a nine-day visit to Israel sponsored by the Christians United for Israel group.

Abbas holds an annual Christmas dinner for dignitaries, and Pence attended but then refused an invitation from Abbas for a private meeting after the event.

Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks told the Indiana newspaper, “The governor is in Israel to strengthen economic ties between Indiana and Israel, to support Israel and to enjoy Christmas with his family. He declined to meet with President Abbas because that was not the purpose of the trip.”

Pence did meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week and issued a statement that “our industries are finding their stride in the innovation sectors of life sciences, technology and advanced manufacturing, while our educational institutions share bonds in thought.”

Obviously, Pence did not see much use, politically or economically, in meeting with Abbas.

Indiana’s GOP Governor Tours Israel with Eyes on the White House

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is touring Israel this week in a business and pleasure trip that also is considered as a first step to tout credentials to be the Republican party presidential nominee in the 2016 elections.

He celebrated Christmas in Jerusalem with his family and toured Christian holy sites.

Last week, Ben Carson, a black Republican, avowed Christian and retired neuro-surgeon from Florida and also a touted candidate for the GOP nomination, visited Israel for the first time in his life

Pence, like Carson, often sounds like an evangelist and is deep in the conservative camp, but his being virtually unknown outside Indiana has left him in the bottom of the growing heap of possible candidates.

A non-profit Christian-based organization paid for the Pence family’s trip, which is also a three-day economic mission.

“Hoosiers have cherished our relationship with the people of Israel for generations,” Pence said in a statement. “As we look ahead, deepening our ties with the people, businesses and state of Israel remains a commitment that will empower us as partners.”

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith called Israel a “global entrepreneurial hotspot” and stated, “Israelis are launching new businesses at a tremendous rate, and that’s triggering economic and job growth that’s primed to expand to the United States.”

His trip includes a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and leaders in high technology and life sciences.

Pence will meet with the Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett on Monday and will fulfill the requirement of foreign dignitaries by visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

It is only a matter of time before likely GOP candidates Rick Perry and Ted Cruz visit Israel to enhance their CVs for being policy experts, more so than several Israeli Knesset Members.

School Choice, the Government, and You

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

As Jews, we assume a myriad of financial obligations in order to ensure that we live in accordance with the tenets of our faith. We give generously to our shuls and make charitable donations to various organizations that service the Jewish community. But one of the biggest investments we make is in our children’s future, as we enroll them in one of the many quality yeshivas our community boasts.

It is no secret that the cost of yeshiva tuition is of great concern to numerous parents in our community. Often the subject of conversation at Shabbos tables, it is always on the minds of every family with children in yeshiva.

There have been extensive discussions and debates over the years about finding ways to alleviate the financial burden borne by tuition-paying parents. Much of the conversation has focused on the role of government in the business of educating our children. It is an age-old question: Should the government play a part in assisting parents of private and religious school students? More important, is the government permitted to do so?

It is not every day that a courthouse in Middle America takes center stage in the school choice movement. But on March 26, the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s progressive voucher program.

The court’s decision rebuffed a 2011 challenge to Indiana’s voucher program brought by the Indiana State Teachers Association. In the court’s decision, Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote that the voucher program did not violate the constitution because the state monies “do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school children.”

This was a monumental decision, in that it provided the state of Indiana with the legal justification necessary to continue its voucher program – one of the most ambitious in the United States. Unlike voucher programs in other states that focus primarily on lower-income families, the Indiana program allows parents with an annual household income of up to $64,000 for a family of four to participate.

By providing lower- and middle-income families with the necessary funds to cover tuition costs, the Indiana voucher program enables them to enroll their children in private schools, as opposed to having to send them to public schools.

Since Indiana established its voucher program in 2011, approximately 9,000 families, most of which chose to educate their children in private schools, have benefited from the program.

The decision to uphold Indiana’s voucher program is somewhat consistent with the progress that recently has been made on the school choice issue across the nation. There are a number of states – including Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Arizona – that either presently have or are considering the implementation of tax-credit or voucher programs that benefit parents of private school students,

Closer to home, Governor Christie has been supportive of creating a voucher program in New Jersey by allocating state funds in order to enable lower-income families to send their children to private school, if they so choose. In addition, there is a bill pending before the New Jersey State Legislature that would expand the current law in order to permit special needs students to be assigned by their respective school districts to a private religious school, such as a yeshiva.

In New York, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature recently passed a budget that includes a $14 million increase in funding for non-public schools. That includes a more than 30 percent increase in funding for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy and a boost in state funding for the Mandated Services Reimbursement.

With momentum in the school choice arena perhaps shifting a bit in favor of private school parents, now is the time for our community to become further engaged in the process.

Let us not forget for a moment that powerful teachers’ unions, which typically oppose the utilization of any state funds that would benefit non-public schools in any way, wield a tremendous amount of power in Albany and Trenton and enjoy longstanding relationships with many New York and New Jersey state legislators. Relief for private school parents is not just going to fall into our laps. In order to bring about the aid we as private school parents need and deserve, we must stand up and make our voices heard.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/school-choice-the-government-and-you/2013/05/04/

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