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Statements: Their Time and Place

March 29, 2017
Posted by: JCRC Staff

This month JCRC Executive Director Abby Porth joined Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) President and CEO David Bernstein in publishing two important think pieces at eJewish Philanthropy about the power, importance and potential folly of issuing statements. Noting an "unceasing demand on Jewish organizations to issue public statements" they separate the risks from the rewards and delineate several effective alternatives. Excepted below, both articles are great reads for anyone interested in Jewish community relations and public affairs.

Nine Reasons Jewish Organizations should Issue fewer Public Statements
March 15, 2017

Neither of us is against issuing public statements. Indeed, our organizations have issued them and we recognize the merits in sometimes doing so. The Jewish experience during the Holocaust tells us that silence gives permission for persecution. We cite Martin Niemöller’s famous words that “first they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Socialist.” Speaking out can save lives. The civil rights movement demonstrated how speaking out against publicly-expressed bigotry is a tool for social change that drives bigotry to its rightful place: at the margins of society. In addition, public statements can help build consensus and clarify values. In the wake of the executive order on refugees, for example, Jewish organizations spanning the ideological and religious spectrum issued statements opposing the ban. That unity communicated a powerful message both internally and externally. But we are becoming more skeptical of the impact of these public relations statements, and surmise that the American Jewish community should not be so quick to churn them out.

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Eight Things to Keep in Mind when Issuing a Public Statement
March 23, 2017

When Jewish organizations think of issuing a PR statement today, it is often a reaction to a newsworthy event that stands in stark contrast to constituents’ views. But rather than rush to issue a PR statement, we must begin by asking “what is the most effective way to advance our constituents’ views?” For example, when the President’s Executive Orders on immigration and refugees were implemented, the San Francisco-based JCRC examined the Orders and also JCRC’s consensus policy position on immigration. The contrast was clear, so we had to determine how to solve the problem of the organized Bay Area Jewish community’s opposition to the Executive Orders. The answer wasn’t a PR statement. The answer was advocacy.

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