To: Seattle Jewish Film Festival
Don't Reward Martin Selig for renting to ICE
Why is the Seattle Jewish Film Festival giving an award to Billionaire developer Martin Selig who rents offices to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
The festival plans to honor Selig as an agent of “arts, philanthropy, and change” at its opening night gala on March 19th. But Selig is also an agent of injustice who causes harm to our communities by renting to ICE.
As Jews and allies, we have a commitment to supporting migrant justice, not ICE terror, even when it means having difficult conversations with members of our community.
Join us in asking the Seattle Jewish Film Festival to rescind its award to Martin Selig
Why is this important?
To: The Seattle Jewish Film Festival,
We come to you in the spirit of tikkun olam, healing the world, to ask you to rescind the REAL Difference Award to Seattle billionaire developer Martin Selig because Selig continues to rent offices to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Your plan to honor Selig at your opening night gala as an agent of “arts, philanthropy, and change” ignores the fact that Selig is also an agent of injustice who causes harm to our communities by renting to ICE.
Last summer, a group of us Jewish activists, immigrants, and allies spoke to Selig in front of his downtown building during a Jewish-led protest for migrant justice. A Jewish activist from Never Again-Seattle asked Selig, who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1939, how he and his company could profit from ICE terrorizing today’s immigrants.
Selig didn't answer and walked away from the interaction, but we stayed to protest how ICE detains, cages, and deports tens of thousands of people seeking refuge in the US every year. ICE separates children from their families and deprives migrants of adequate food, water, and basic sanitation. At least seven people have died in ICE custody just since October. Countless other immigrants have died after being deported back to their countries of origin.
As Jews, our people know all too well what it is to be sent back to a place where we face near-certain death. The images we see of migrants inside wire cage fences or being hauled away on buses while their children cry out are hauntingly familiar to many of us Jews who know what happens when a government targets, dehumanizes and strips an entire group of people of their civil and human rights.
Each generation of Jews has passed down the phrase “never again” because we have a responsibility never again to allow anyone to experience the persecution that our ancestors experienced in the pogroms and the Nazi Holocaust.
As Jews and allies in this community, we ask you to consider this history, the brutal impact that ICE has on immigrants; we ask you not to reward Martin Selig for renting to ICE.
Ironically, this same weekend over Shabbat on March 20-21st, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) is asking the American Jewish community “to dedicate sacred time and space to refugees and asylum seekers.” In fact, these “refugee shabbats” are taking place all around the world, including Seattle.
You can use your position to make such a dedication. We are asking you to put the well being of some of our community’s most vulnerable people -- people seeking safety and basic human rights for themselves and their families, just like our people have sought -- ahead of any discomfort you may feel about having a difficult conversation with a wealthy and powerful donor.
You have the power to rescind this award, stand up for refugees and asylum seekers, and say “never again” to the terror of ICE.
Seattle Never Again Network