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First Friday rally in Ashland supports congresswomen

A rally to stand with congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, at the Ashland Plaza.

The intention is to “support a respectful dialogue about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, and support the right to criticize Israel and boycott Israeli companies and products,” according to a press release.

The release also states that the groups organizing the event, Rogue Valley Jewish Voice for Peace and The United Nations Club at Southern Oregon University, oppose anti-Semitism.

Avram Sacks, membership coordinator for Jewish Voice for Peace in the Rogue Valley, said the two congresswomen are the first Muslim women elected to Congress and have been attacked for addressing the lack of a “fair and objective discussion of Israeli policy in the U.S. media or in the U.S. Congress.”

He said the group is not anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic.

“We are living the values and ethics of Judaism when we point out that the Palestinians are living under a military occupation, which denies them their basic human rights, controls their movements from place to place, keeps many of them in deplorable living conditions and often kills and injures them when they peacefully demonstrate,” Sacks said.

He said the congresswomen’s words are often twisted in the media.

“Acts of violence and hatred toward Muslims and Jews have increased dramatically since President Trump took office,” Sacks said. “We know that, historically, authoritarian governments maintain their power by pitting one group against another. Standing with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib is sending a message that we will not let hate and lies divide us. In standing with them we are advocating for a vibrant Democracy in which unpopular voices can be heard, and in which minorities, people of color and women are treated with dignity and respect.”

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

FILE - In this July 15, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, right, speaks, as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. listens, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington.