JCRCA Town Hall Educates More Than Debates 1

Mindy Binderman, the executive director of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, addresses the need for increased investment in education for children from birth through age 5.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta endorsed five national resolutions during a town-hall meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 18, but the discussions behind the issues were at least as important as the votes.

About 40 people attended the meeting at Congregation B’nai Torah on the five resolutions, addressing anti-Semitism in Europe and college campuses, changes to laws on marijuana, early childhood education, mandatory paid sick leave and recognition of the Armenian genocide. The resolutions are on the agenda for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ national Jewish Community Town Hall in Washington from Oct. 10 to 13.

The first resolution, expressing concern about rising anti-Semitism and calling for collaboration with legislators, agencies and interfaith partners to define and condemn it, was timely.

Frida Ghitis, a CNN contributor who travels to Amsterdam every year, shared a common chant among fans of Dutch soccer teams playing Ajax, seen as a Jewish club: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

She also cited two fresh examples of anti-Semitism: the protest of Paris’ “Tel Aviv on the Seine” beach celebration and Matisyahu’s lost and regained invitation to a Spanish reggae festival.

JCRCA Town Hall Educates More Than Debates 2

CNN contributor Frida Ghitis talks about the anti-Semitism she has observed during her many trips to Europe.

Paris was continuing a 14-year tradition of turning part of the riverfront into a foreign beach for a day when Tel Aviv was chosen for Thursday, Aug. 13. But at least one Paris City Council member tried to stop the Tel Aviv festivities, and anti-Israel protesters chose to make a nearby stretch of sand into a Gaza beach covered with corpses.

In Spain, the Rototom SunSplash festival asked Matisyahu, who is American, not Israeli, to make certain pro-Palestinian political statements to appease protesters who threatened a boycott When the singer refused, the festival disinvited him, only to invite him after a public uproar. Matisyahu performed Saturday, Aug. 22, in the face of Palestinian flags.

Ghitis said a major problem is that European politicians have nothing to gain and much to lose from fighting anti-Semitism.

The next resolution aims to change marijuana possession from a criminal offense with imprisonment to a public health issue. Lawyer Jay Strongwater made the case for a stronger proposal calling for full decriminalization, regulation and taxation, but the JCPA resolution passed.

Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students Executive Director Mindy Binderman explained the need for the resolution on affordable, high-quality child care and pre-K education.

She said learning should be seen as continuous through early childhood rather than starting as day care and shifting to education at age 3 or 4, but “doing it well costs money.”JCRCA Town Hall Educates More Than Debates 4

The measures on early childhood and sick leave, both touted as paths out of poverty, passed unanimously.

The last resolution, calling on the United States to use the g-word regarding Turkey’s Armenian genocide from 1915 to 1923, was endorsed without controversy but with much sympathy.

Georgia is among 44 states that recognize the slaughter of 1.5 million people as genocide, said Vahan Kassabian, the Georgia chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America.

The JCRCA made the resolution stronger by adding Hitler’s comment on the eve of his invasion of Poland in 1939 that he could act with impunity because no one ever spoke of the annihilation of the Armenians.