Progressive Jews to Present Shande (Disgrace) Awards Outside Jewish Republican Gala

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Senators Specter & Santorum, Republican Jewish Coalition to be (Dis)Honored

4:00 pm
Monday, August 30, 2004
Outside the Plaza Hotel – 59th Street & 5th Avenue, Manhattan

Progressive and radical Jews will gather this afternoon to show the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and its friends in ‘mainstream’ Jewish organizations that most Jews in the U.S. reject its attempts to pull Jewish communities to the right. The RJC will be at the Plaza to celebrate its alliance with the Christian Right and rejection of the Jewish values of welcoming immigrants and supporting economic and racial justice. New York City’s Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and other progressive Jews from around the country will gather to present the Shande (Disgrace) Awards to some of the honorees at the RJC gala, and to the organization itself. “Siding with the rich, powerful and warlike has never been a Jewish value,” said Karen Benezra, a JFREJ member, “and pretending it is can’t make it one.”

RJC will receive the “Slamming the Golden Door” award for their support for anti-immigrant policies and contributions to a xenophobic political climate. “If anyone should know better than to support restrictions on immigration, detentions without charges, and attacks on communities based on their ethnicity or religion, it’s Jewish organizations,” said Dara Silverman, JFREJ’s Executive Director, “they’re collaborating with a kind of panic that has often been turned against Jews, and policies that would have prevented their families from being here.”

Other awards will call out Senator Arlen Specter and former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer for their contributions to the current conservative agenda. “Fleischer has been a shill for Bush’s economics, which cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires while throwing thousands out of work,” said JFREJ’s Stosh Cotler, “and Specter, co-creator of the Homeland Security Act, has vigorously supported policies that infringe upon our civil liberties, particularly for immigrant and people of color communities.”

A last honoree, Senator Rick Santorum, will be honored as the Strangest Bedfellow – the Christian Conservative most unexpectedly found in bed with a Jewish organization. “Santorum’s name is synonymous with vicious homophobia,” said Daniel Lang/Levitsky, a queer New Yorker and JFREJ member, “I’m appalled that any Jewish organization would associate with him rather than denouncing his bigotry.”