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JLC and other Conference of Presidents Members Rebut COP Statement on Majority Leader Schumer Meeting

On March 14th, 2024, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, delivered a strongly-worded speech on the Senate floor, focusing to a great degree on on the violence of the October 7th terrorist attack against Israel, the Israeli response in Gaza, and his thoughts on "the path forward to secure mutual peace and lasting prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians." {See "Schumer Urges New Leadership in Israel, Calling Netanyahu an Obstacle to Peace," NYT, March 14, 2024.}

On March 19th, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COP) held a special, off-he-record briefing with Senator Schumer and COP member organization presidents and CEOs; JLC President Stuart Appelbaum and Executive Director Arieh Lebowitz participated in that briefing. Later that day, the chair and CEO of the COP issued a terse statement, saying it remains ‘distressed’ with Schumer's call for elections in Israel, as one headline put it.

On March 20th, the Jewish Labor Committee joined with the lay and professional leaders of Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Union for Reform Judaism, and Women of Reform Judaism, as well as, signing on as individuals, the chair, and president and CEO, of HIAS in a statement of our own:

"We are deeply disturbed by the condemnatory statement issued yesterday by the Conference of Presidents (COP) following a meeting with Majority Leader Schumer. Though the critical COP statement was made in the name of the CEO and President, it claims to speak for COP `membership' when in fact it clearly fails to reflect the diversity of views within the COP.

"Each of us has slightly different takes on Senator Schumer’s speech: many of us welcomed his forceful condemnation of Hamas, his passionate call for the hostages’ release, his expression of pain for the humanitarian crisis gripping innocent Gazans, and his vivid critique of PM Netanyahu’s rejection of eventual demilitarized Palestinian statehood and sovereignty. Others have taken a different view.

"Nonetheless, following Sen. Schumer’s meeting yesterday with COP members, COP leaders chose to independently issue their unduly harsh missive, which was divisive and unfair. Their statement does not reflect the views of several member entities who support much of the important content of Sen. Schumer’s speech, or even those who disagreed with some of what he said but understood that this speech was a constructive critique made by one of the U.S. Congress’ most passionate champions of a strong and safe Israel.

"Since October 7, our community has been challenged in unprecedented ways. Each of us has sought to respond, leading by our commitment to a Jewish, democratic, pluralistic state of Israel. We and others have called for measures that ensure that Israel is strong and secure, that the hostages are released immediately, that humanitarian aid reaches Palestinians in Gaza, and that a future in which an Israeli and Palestinian state exist side by side in peace is not foreclosed.

"At this critical moment, we urge the COP to clarify the processes it follows in deciding when and how to speak with the goal of more effectively reflecting the diversity of legitimate views that our organizations hold. The COP can play an essential role in that regard and in doing so it can foster debate that is, as our tradition teaches, `for the sake of heaven.' ”

Signed by -


Kenneth Bob (he/him)

Americans for Peace Now
Hadar Susskind (he/him)
President and CEO

Jim Klutznick (he/him)
Chair of the Board

Association of Reform Zionists of America
Daryl Messinger (she/her)

Rabbi Josh Weinberg (he/him)

Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Erica Asch (she/her)

Rabbi Hara E. Person (she/her)
Chief Executive

Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Amy Spitalnick (she/her)

Leslie Dannin Rosenthal(she/her)
Board Chair

Jewish Labor Committee
Stuart Appelbaum (he/him)

Arieh Lebowitz (he/him)
Executive Director

Union for Reform Judaism
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman (she/her)

Rabbi Rick Jacobs (he/him)

Women of Reform Judaism
Sara Charney (she/her)

Rabbi Liz P. G. Hirsch (she/her)
Executive Director


Mark Hetfield (he/him)
President and CEO, HIAS

Jeff Blattner (he/him)
Chair, HIAS