Challenges in Coalition Building

by Jared Feldman

 

The principal mandate of the Jewish community relations field, as expressed in the JCPA mission statement, involves three interrelated goals including safeguarding the rights of Jews here and around the world, dedicating ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel, and advancing a just American society that furthers harmonious intergroup relations. 

 

These goals are often advanced through coalition work with a broad range of constituencies including issue-based organizations, religious and ethnic groups.   Often, we are aligned with groups on some issues and find ourselves in opposition on others.  Tensions related to the Middle East conflict contribute to these challenges, but are by no means the only point of departure.  

 

The JCPA believe that, at times, the actions or rhetoric of groups render them unacceptable as coalition partners, such as when groups or individuals closely associated with them have engaged in anti-Semitism or supported terror.  The JCPA also recognizes that frequently the lines are less clear, and community relations agencies must determine whether to engage groups that have problematic associations or stances.  In some instances engagement can lead to dialogue and improved understandings.  In others, communal interests and principles are furthered by rejection of bi-lateral or even multi-lateral relations.   Community relations agencies must make these determinations on case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the importance of the issue around which a coalition is formed, the size of the coalition, and the nature of the problematic activity.   

 

Regardless of decisions regarding coalition activity, community relations agencies should:

  • continue to speak out forcefully and swiftly against all  manifestations of bigotry and call on political, interfaith, and other leaders to do the same
  • utilize all available steps to address any related rise of intimidation or anti-Semitism directed against Jews.

About the Author


Jared Feldman