National Roundup 01-10: Michigan Becomes 15th State to Pass Anti-BDS Legislation; After Bomb Threats, JCC Association Reassures Jewish Community
The following is a round-up of national news from several major states across the country that will be featured on our site on a daily basis:
Christie Returns to Addiction as Signature Issue in State of State Address: Facing flagging approval ratings and an uncertain political future after president-elect Donald Trump’s high-profile cabinet snub, New Jersey governor Chris Chris Christie returned to safe terrain in his state of the state address Tuesday. Christie said policy changes to combat opiate addiction in the state will be his first priority in the year he has left in office.
The speech was a canny change of strategy for the governor, whose approval ratings have hovered in the high teens since this fall. Christie has reportedly been traveling with a camera crew to speak with addiction groups and addicts themselves in a potential bid to recreate the viral success of anti-addiction speeches that helped build momentum for his first gubernatorial bid in 2009.
In one jab at Democratic lawmakers who considered reopening a state-level investigation into the Bridgegate scandal last year, Christie equated further discussion of the scandal—which resulted in guilty pleas and verdicts for three former top aides—with “inaction” on heroin and prescription opiates.
“We cannot waste another minute of our time in leadership on the next partisan-fueled fake scandal,” Christie said. “While our friends are dying, we cannot permit the worst partisans in this town to lead the discussion towards politically motivated, media sensationalized nonsense.” [Observer]
Murphy Vows to Defy ‘Unconstitutional’ Orders from Trump if Elected Governor: Phil Murphy, the Democratic front-runner in the 2017 race to replace Gov. Chris Christie, picked up the endorsements of New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. Senators on Monday and vowed to disobey orders from a President Donald Trump that would violate the constitution or are “un-American.”
Murphy appeared at his campaign headquarters in downtown Newark to tout the endorsements of U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. “I will not take orders from an Administration that are unconstitutional or un-American,” Murphy vowed.
All three men insisted that with Republicans in control of both Congress and the White House, a dark, a chilly future lay in store for New Jerseyans if the governorship were to fall into GOP hands. “Winter is coming,” said Booker, referencing both the 16 degree temperature outside and the infamous line from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” warning of a coming apocalypse. “We need a governor who can work under hostile conditions,” he continued. “Who can resist a president when it is necessary, in defense of New Jersey.” [NJ.com]
Michigan Becomes 15th State to Pass Anti-BDS Legislation: Michigan became on Monday the sixteenth state to outlaw and condemn discrimination against Israel and Israelis. Governor Rick Snyder signed a measure passed the state legislature into law, among 31 other bills. HB 5821 and 5822 sponsored by state Reps. Al Pscholka and Robert Wittenberg, respectively, require certain state contracts to include a representation that the individual is not and will not engage in a boycott of a person based in or doing business with Israel. The measures are now Public Acts 526-527 of 2016.
Peggy Shapiro, Midwest Director of StandWithUs,- which has long been involved in educating key leaders about the issues relating to anti-boycott legislation praised the legislation, “These bills protect Michigan’s citizens from the devastating economic impact that would result from a boycott of Israel. This legislation is good for the future prosperity of the state, the nation and Israel.”
Michigan enjoys tens of millions of dollars in annual economic trade with Israeli entities, in addition to business done with many other partners who have commercial interests in Israel. This trade encompasses many of the state’s most important economic sectors, such as defense, technology research and development, and health sciences.
Shapiro expressed that legislators sent a strong message that the state will not tolerate attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel or any other country. “These bills ensure the State of Michigan will not support those that participate in campaigns fueled by intolerance and anti-Semitism – like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The state and governor have taken a clear stand against the bigotry and discrimination of BDS, which singles out only Israel.” [JP]
Montana Group Seeks Inclusion, Safety For Residents From Nazi Hate: Montana shoppers will soon begin seeing posters in the windows of stores that want to be recognized as safe places thanks to cadre of volunteers and the Missoula Downtown Association.
Missoula Rises, a human rights group of Missoula residents who were spurred by Nazi, anti-Semitic leaflets to react with love and protection, created the posters to denote stores where store owners have pledged to not tolerate hateful language or actions. The group is standing in solidarity with the residents of Whitefish, Montana and has already begun distributing posters there. The group’s leaders have also been posting the signage on social media and offering posters for free to any business owner who wants one.
“Because of the climate after the Presidential election, it has become extremely important for people in Western Montana to know that we support inclusion and diversity,” said group founder Erin Erickson. “We will be vocal and stand up against hate. If someone needs help, you have our help.”
Erickson is a civil attorney. She conceived the idea for the group as a reaction to the disappointment and helplessness many felt after Donald Trump was elected in early November. [Israel News Agency]
After Bomb Threats, JCC Association Reassures Jewish Community: The JCC Association released a statement on Tuesday applauding the staffs of their community centers for following protocol “calmly and professionally,” as well as expressing gratitude for police and security officials.
David Posner, director of strategic performance at the association, also aimed to reassure communities. “Our first priority is safety,” he said. “[The] JCC Association’s role is to support all Jewish Community Centers and their members across the continent, as together we ensure that Jewish community centers remain inclusive, engaging community gathering places and safe spaces.”
Posner added that the organization has a partnership with the Secure Community Network, which focuses on security for Jewish institutions throughout North America, as well as an “ongoing relationship” with the Department of Homeland Security. Both are still currently working to determine the cause and origin of the threats. Some members of the affected centers expressed their shock and relief on Facebook, and many praised the local staff for their handling of the emergencies. [JPost]
Rubio: ‘Vladimir Putin Is Not An Ally of America’: Sen. Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan effort seeking tough new sanctions against Russia “for their cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities here in the United States and around the world.”
“Vladimir Putin is not an ally of America, and he only understands strength, not weakness in the form of unilateral concessions,” Rubio said in a statement. “These two facts are important to remember as a new president takes office,” said Rubio. “I will continue working with our bipartisan coalition to pressure Putin and his corrupt regime until Russia changes its behavior.”
The move sets up a clash with President-elect Trump, who has made favorable comments about Putin and called for warmer ties with Russia. [Tampa Bay]