CAIR, CAIR-NJ Praise Ben & Jerry’s for Standing by Boycott of Illegal Israeli Settlements, Call Unilever’s Sale a ‘Failure’ for Anti-Palestinian Groups 

CAIR, CAIR-NJ Praise Ben & Jerry’s for Standing by Boycott of Illegal Israeli Settlements, Calls Unilever’s Sale a ‘Failure’ for Anti-Palestinian Groups

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 06/30/2022) – The national headquarters and New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today praised Ben & Jerry’s for its steadfast refusal to sell products in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and condemned Unilever’s “cowardly” decision to sell its business interest so that a local Israeli company can resume the sales under different names.

Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s New Jersey-based parent company, announced the sale of its business interest to its Israeli company owned by Avi Zinger, who had also sued the Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s decision, according to Unilever’s statement. Ben & Jerry’s has not changed its stance and says it will not profit from the sales.

SEE: Unilever Sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli Business to Defuse Row

SEE: After backlash, NJ-based Unilever says it’s ending Ben & Jerry’s ice cream ban 

Ben & Jerry’s wrote, “We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it. Unilever’s arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Last year, New Jersey’s Division of Investment pulled $182 million in pension funds out of Unilever, citing a state law that prohibited the investment of state pension funds in businesses that engaged in boycotts of Israel. Six other states, including Florida and New York, did the same.

In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:

“We commend Ben & Jerry’s for standing by their decision to boycott illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and we condemn Unilever for its cowardly attempt to avoid taking a stance against Israeli apartheid.   

“Unilever’s decision to sell off its business interests in the face of Ben & Jerry’s steadfast refusal to buckle under pressure represents the latest failure of anti-Palestinian groups to bully a principled corporation into submission. Support for Palestinian human rights is spreading around the world, whether they like it or not.”  

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“We applaud Ben & Jerry’s principled position. At the same time, we are disappointed but also unsurprised by Unilever’s decision. 

“This is what happens when bad faith actors conflate criticisms of Israeli apartheid policies – like illegal sentiments, racist laws and segregated housing – with antisemitism. It’s the aftermath we warned of when we opposed the 2016 anti-boycott law. Boycotts have long been a significant facet of civil rights movements, including in the U.S., and they should be honored.   

“Our office continues to stand firmly against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and its violation of international human rights laws, and we call on Governor Murphy to repeal the anti-boycott law that, right now, stands in violation of New Jerseyans’ right to free speech.”  

CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against anti-BDS laws in Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory in 2019.

SEE: CAIR’s Challenge to Texas Anti-BDS Law Supported by Amicus Briefs Filed by Coalition of Civic Groups, Scholars 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119smaksut@cair.com. 

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Advocacy Groups’ Petition Against Increase of Police Presence in Schools

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Advocacy Groups’ Petition Against Increase of Police Presence in Schools

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 6/29/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed a petition to the New Jersey Board of Education by civil rights organizations opposing an increase in police presence in schools following the Uvalde school shooting in Texas that left 19 children and two adults dead.

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the ACLU of New Jersey and the NAACP of New Jersey, among other advocacy groups, signed a petition pushing back against Governor Phil Murphy’s decision to increase police presence in schools.

In their petition, groups called for evidence-based approaches to school safety that involve non-punitive, relationship-centered practices that avoid and address harm, respond to violations of legal and human rights, and collaboratively solve problems.

Among their demands are the hiring of trained staff such as school psychologists, counselors, and social workers, implementing restorative justice techniques that would allow for open dialogue between students and foster community-building exercises, and introducing social emotional learning, which could reduce exclusionary discipline by decreasing student behavioral issues and conduct problems.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“We are deeply saddened at the senseless and tragic school shooting in Uvalde and the overall rise in school shootings, but we are also troubled by the increase of law enforcement presence in schools.      

“Investing more in police presence at schools is not only futile, but also harmful, particularly to immigrant communities and Black and brown students. It risks an increase in school-based arrests for minor offenses and can push non-compliant students out of school and into prison. More importantly, it also takes away from funding from needed services, like mental health counseling and assistance to students.   

“Instead of allocating more funding to law enforcement and security officers, we would like to see those funds put toward hiring mental health professionals, counselors, and social workers who can address students’ needs, foster a culture of safety in schools, and take on a proactive rather than reactive approach to student misconduct. 

“We must work toward eliminating police-in-school programs, and only use police officers in school settings to address violent incidents and external threats. Their use should not be without heavy restrictions on their duties in schools, entirely avoiding internal disciplinary matters. 

“We also welcome initiatives like A660, which would establish mental health assistance programs that can help identify and address students’ mental health struggles and the impact on their academic performance.”  

SEE: CAIR Task Force on Anti-Black Racism: Ending Racist Police Violence in America 

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Update_Task-Force-Policy-Recomendations.pdf

New Jersey has the highest disparity in the nation in the incarceration rates of Black and white youth, with nearly 18 Black youth incarcerated for every one white youth, even though Black and white youth commit most offenses at similar rates, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Sentencing Project. In 2015-16, the ACLU found that, nationwide, Black students were three times more likely to be arrested in school compared to white students.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119smaksut@cair.com.

CAIR-NJ to Join New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Rally in Trenton

MEDIA ADVISORY    

CAIR-NJ to Join New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Rally in Trenton

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 6/21/2022) – On Wednesday, June 22, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) will join a coalition of pro-immigration groups at a rally on the steps of the State House Annex in Trenton, N.J., to urge lawmakers to use surplus funds to invest in communities most impacted by economic and social consequences of the pandemic.

Coalition groups will also draw attention to the contrast between the size of New Jersey’s immigrant communities and their relatively small share of budget and policy priorities.

June is immigrant heritage month and the time of year when the state budget negotiations reach their conclusion. Coalition members and community speakers will cover topics from economy, pandemic relief, police reform and accountability, and protections against ICE.

WHAT: Rally to urge Trenton to use surplus to invest in communities most impacted by economic and social consequences of the pandemic

WHEN: June 22, at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: State House Annex at 131-137 W State St, Trenton, NJ 08608

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksut@cair.com

SEE: NJAIJ Immigrant Heritage Rally

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UOHX7cJRGfboLNr9nLAmaW8vJne4TVPROR-JujYZ4Ik/edit

 

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“Although Muslims are not new to America — the first Muslims were brought to America as enslaved people — we, along with many other communities of color, continue to be misrepresented and underrepresented.  

“American Muslim communities fall at the intersection of Black America, immigrant America, and working-class America, yet census data consistently undercounts and misrepresents our diversity.  

“We are disappointed in the data aggregation surrounding our communities, which ultimately leads to a disproportionate share of state budget and policy priority being taken away, but we are hopeful in our power and numbers.  

 “We are proud to witness the impact of our sisters and brothers, and we will continue to fight for better representation, whether that’s in the many pockets of public life or census data.” 

 

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

 

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CAIR-NJ Welcomes Dina Sayedahmed as New Communications Manager

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Dina Sayedahmed as New Communications Manager

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 06/06/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the state office of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced that Dina Sayedahmed has been named as its new Communications Manager.  

Before joining CAIR-New Jersey, Sayedahmed worked at CBS News, producing morning and evening news programs. She also worked on Marc Lamont Hill’s show at Al Jazeera English and helped produce Mehdi Hasan’s news analysis videos and politics podcast at The Intercept. Her work largely covers the Middle East and North Africa, state surveillance, and the various forms of American and European imperialism.   

In addition to her work experiences, Sayedahmed regularly volunteers with Bayonne Muslims and leads a weekly halaqa for youth. She is also a budding calligraphist of the Diwani and Thulth scripts.  

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed said:  

“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve the Muslim community in New Jersey and to further CAIR’s mission in advocating for justice and mutual understanding. Given the rising trends of anti-Muslim sentiment and other forms of bigotry, I look forward to working towards tangible improvements in the lives of American Muslims and minority groups.”  

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:  

“Our office is thrilled to onboard Dina Sayedahmed who brings with her a wealth of expertise and knowledge on media and communications work. Dina’s skills and passion for civil rights and advocacy work will advance our fight against Islamophobia and institutional racism here in New Jersey, and uplift the image of Islam and the American Muslim community.”  

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.  

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksut@cair.com.