BDS backer bumped from Heroes contest

The Jewish Federations of North America bumped a leader of a Jewish pro-Palestinian group from its Jewish Community Heroes competition.

Cecilie Surasky, the deputy director of Jewish Voices for Peace, was removed because her organization is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting investment in Israel, JFNA officials said.

Surasky had received 1,462 online votes out of more than 100,000 cast—good for 11th place—when she was removed.

“A central value of The Jewish Federations of North America is to support Israel, and the Jewish Heroes rules preclude us from accepting any nominees whose aims run counter to that mission,” Joe Berkofsky, the Federations’ managing director of communications, said in a statement.

“Our Israel Action Network is working to challenge the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement and other efforts to isolate and weaken the Jewish state. We cannot therefore support a group that seeks to harm Israel through its support for BDS.”

Surasky on her blog criticized Jewish Federation for her removal from the competition. She also rapped the group for retaining Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Manis Friedman of Minnesota in the contest, pointing to the rabbi’s widely criticized 2009 comments in Moment Magazine in which he called for the destruction of Arab holy sites, as well as the killing of “men, women, and children [and cattle],” as “the Jewish way” to fight “moral war.”

One of the country’s most prominent Chabad rabbis, Friedman later retracted his statement, calling it “irresponsible,” and suggested he was referring to the use of human shields to protect attackers. Friedman stands in fourth place in the Jewish Heroes contest.