The following letter was sent to Providence City Council members on June 6, 2024.

Dear Providence City Council Members,

We are writing today in reference to Agenda item 10 on the 6/6/2024 City Council Agenda, “Ordinance Amending Chapter 2, ‘Administration’ of the Providence Code of Ordinances to add Section 2-17.1, Entitled: ‘Sovereign Bonds of the State of Israel and other Sovereign States.’”

The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island is the largest Jewish organization in Rhode Island, aiming to serve the 25,000 members of our Jewish community through social, cultural and communal programming and services. The Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island is a group of rabbis from across the spectrum of Jewish denominations who serve congregations, agencies, and institutions throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

Our two organizations strongly oppose this ordinance. The Jewish community is not a monolith, and when we are faced with disagreement, we welcome efforts that are practical and effective in achieving lasting peace in the Middle East for both Israelis and Palestinians. We mourn the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost – and we yearn for the day in which both people can live safely and in prosperity.

This proposed ordinance is outside of the purview of the City Council and creates an atmosphere of isolation for the many Jewish residents of Providence. The City of Providence currently does not hold any Israel Bonds. We've seen how debates over resolutions and ordinances like this have been exploited by antisemites and other bigots to fuel hate against the Jewish community and others. Furthermore, our concerns with the ordinance include:

  • This ordinance singles out Israel, the only Jewish nation-state. Criticism of Israel, like criticism of any other sovereign country in the world, can be reasonable and legitimate. However, divestment campaigns, which single out Israel for pariah status, are antisemitic and disproportionate.
  • Divestment is a divisive tool that drives negotiating parties apart rather than bringing them together, which is inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the cause of peace and justice. Divestment promotes an extremely simplistic view of a complicated conflict, presenting one side as wholly good and the other as consummately evil, all while leaving no room for a Jewish state.
  • The state of Rhode Island incorporated H7736, the Anti-Discrimination in Contracts bill, into general law in 2016. According to RIGL § 37-2.6-3, public entities are prohibited from engaging in business with those who fail to affirm their opposition to boycotting any state; therefore, it would be unlawful for Providence to require that which is already illegal under state law and would subject the city to legal challenges and serious repercussions.
  • On a global scale, peace will only come through an atmosphere of reconciliation and coexistence, not through demonization. In fact, those who support divestment from Israel do not support constructive measures to build Israel-Palestinian engagement, nor do they promote mutually negotiated solutions and peace.

We strongly believe that what is needed more than ever during this deeply painful and complex conflict is constructive and respectful conversation about how to support a lasting peace in the region. We urge the Providence City Council to reject this effort to demonize Israel, alienate Providence’s Jewish community, and expose the city to potential liability and litigation. We would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you have about this matter.


Adam Greenman, President and CEO, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Harris Chorney, Chair, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Rabbi Barry Dolinger, President, Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island
Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser, Vice-President, Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island