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Global Conference for Israel starts Thursday in Denver with tight security

Jewish National Fund responds to calls for protest of its upcoming Denver conference
Jewish National Fund responds to calls for protest of its upcoming Denver conference 02:04

It is hardly a welcome mat. A website that calls for a shutdown of the Global Conference for Israel. 

"We have already been fighting off requests for a shutdown for nearly a year now, long before the events of October 7 and this most recent war with Hamas, so this is not new to us," said Yaron Marcus, vice president of the Mountain States Region, Jewish National Fund USA, which is hosting the conference.

Social media posted by Colorado Palestine Coalition. Colorado Palestine Coalition

The group calling for the Israel conference to be shut down is the Colorado Palestine Coalition. 

"Israel has spent the better part of the last two months committing a genocide, an absolute genocide in Gaza," said Abdullah Elagha, one of the leaders of the Colorado Palestinian Coalition.

JNF USA Conference website. JNF USA

Marcus says many of the Palestine Coalition's claims, which include that the conference organizers own lands in Israel, are not accurate. The organization referred to in the Palestine Coalition's literature is not the same as the group holding the Denver meeting. JNF USA, he says, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, apolitical philanthropy that raises funds for improvement projects that benefit all residents of the region, projects promoting forestation, building reservoirs and desalination plants, among others.

Marcus adds, "If I could send a message to the people out there that are angry at Israel, I would say please understand, we are not at war with the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with the Palestinians. But Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs them, dare I say that is tyrannical towards them, must be removed."

Israel retaliated against the militant group Hamas after it killed approximately 1,200 Israelis and others on Oct. 7, and it's estimated that to date more than 14,000 Palestinians have died in the war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.


In their literature, the Colorado Palestine Coalition calls protestors to "Take Action to #ShutDownJNF", adding "Direct actions to confront or shut down the JNF Annual Conference have a long tradition."

The conference at the Colorado Convention Center is expected to have a heavy Denver Police presence and private security. Gov. Jared Polis is scheduled to speak on Thursday as is Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan.

"We are concerned, and yes, some of us are scared. And yes, there's going to be a lot of security, and yes I believe it is warranted and necessary," Marcus said. 

"This year's conference is more important than ever to talk about how we combat antisemitism, how we protect the Jewish homeland, and how we ensure that Israel survives another 75 years," said Marcus.

Since the war began last month, the number of reports of antisemitism in the Colorado region has grown by some 400%, according to the Anti-Defamation League for the Mountain States Region.

On Monday the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is part of JEWISHcolorado, also issued a statement saying in part, "We object to the way the Jewish National Fund has been portrayed. JNF supports all Israelis, no matter their background, faith, or politics. In a country where more than 20% of Israelis are not Jewish, JNF is a non-religious, non-political humanitarian NGO that serves all Israelis— Bedouins, Druze, Arabs, Palestinians, and other national, religious, and identity groups."

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