Friday, May 7, 2010
As if the Boston CJP/JCRC follies over their on again-off again support for Israel weren't bizarre enough (see here, here and here), we now have a story of unrequited love. In its inexcusable funding practices (via a CJP Donor Advised Fund grant to the virulently anti-Israel organization, The Haymarket Peoples' Fund) in 2007, the door was opened for cooperation between the two groups.
In its eternal quest to champion LGBT rights (indeed a laudable endeavor) Nancy Kaufman's JCRC decided to co-sponsor an event with Spontaneous Celebrations, a Jamaica Plain "Progressive" organization:
Being Gay in Iran: Human Rights and the Revolution
Monday, May 11th, 2010
54 Danforth Street
Members of the LGBT community in Iran face discrimination on a daily basis. Under the current regime, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Please join us for a discussion on the status of gay rights in Iran in light of ensuing Revolution, featuring Sohrab Ahmari and Yehuda Ya'akov.
Let's recap what happened in this odd series of missteps:
- CJP gives money to an Israel-hating group called The Haymarket Peoples' Fund
- The HPF in turn funds a group called Spontaneous Celebrations
- JCRC Schedules an event with Spontaneous Celebrations on LGBT rights in Iran
- Someone in authority at Spontaneous Celebrations discovers that the JCRC is co-sponsoring the event
- Spontaneous Celebrations quickly cancels the event
And here, in an elucidating email, is the reason why the Haymarket crowd canceled:
"Dear Community Supporters,
Thank you for all the concerns that you expressed to us at Spontaneous Celebrations about the JCRC's event that was scheduled to take place in our building on May 10th. We are writing to let you know that once we heard all of your concerns, we decided to cancel the event. As you may know, our space is available to rent for events, lectures, parties, etc. When our building manager fielded the call about the "Gay Rights in Iran" event, the person did not identify themselves as being with the JCRC and he had no reason to think the event in any way conflicted with the values at Spontaneous. Once we received your emails, we gained a fuller understanding of the nature of the event. We are committed to creating a queer friendly, anti-racist space at Spontaneous that can be used by the community to organize for social change through arts. Thank you for speaking clearly about your need to have such a space.
Jen Kiok and Bashier Kayou
"Uniting and empowering people for social change through the arts"
Obviously, "In Solidarity" doesn't include the preeminent Jewish action group in New England [And the very definition of "mainstream." -MS]. Apparently, the Progressive folk at Spontaneous Celebrations are big on LGBT rights except when a certain Jewish group is involved even though that Jewish group advertises itself as Progressive 24/7.
Or, perhaps, Spontaneous and Haymarket, as supporters of "fair play for Iran", had to make a choice between criticizing one of the most fascistic, gay-killing regimes in history (but one that despises the U.S. and Israel, thereby imbuing it with some kind of seal of approval ) or working alongside a Jewish group. Once the JCRC participation had been outed by the members, the event had to be trashed. A no-brainer for the no-brainers. So-called "Progressive" groups have been in the forefront of apologizing for Iran for years.
Of course, the bottom line is that the JCRC has no business doing business with groups like The Haymarket Peoples' Fund, whose constituent members desire Israel's disappearance.
If the "values" of a group like Spontaneous Celebrations translate to hate for a Jewish organization, even if that organization shares its broad, political and social goals, then that group displays real perversity.
This absurd example should serve as an alarm bell for the community to insist that our Jewish charitable institutions develop strict mission guidelines when it comes to awarding cash grants in addition to rules of association. Humiliated, the JCRC must now start living its own mission statement:
"To Strengthen Israel and overseas partnerships: Securing the Jewish future through advocacy, person-to-person relationships and high-impact programs."
Update: Spontaneous Celebrations was contacted today. They confirmed that the event was canceled. They stated that the reason for the cancellation was due to JCRC's participation and that it represented "cover" for pro-Israel activities. When confronted with the evidence of Iranian torture and murder of gays and lesbians, Spontaneous Celebrations said, "We really don't know what's happening there."
JCRC commented on the cancellation: "The venue did not work out."
Such integrity...such honesty.
[Crossposted from JStreetJive.]
[Update: Some interesting comments in the thread at Universal Hub. -MS]