2020-2021 University of California – Davis CAMERA Fellow Eden Bouskila

On April 14, Jewish Voice for Peace posted a screenshot of a tweet on its Instagram page. Apparently intended to question Jewish indigeneity to Israel, the tweet began, “The strenuous insistence that we Jews are FROM Eretz Yisrael (‘indigenous’ etc) overlooks that over and over Torah reminds us we arrived there from elsewhere, as strangers …”

JVP’s post accompanying the screenshot reads, “This is one of the many errors of Zionist claims to indigeneity — claims to being native to, and therefore having ownership of, Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel in the Torah). Torah repeatedly reminds us of our previous status as strangers and commands that we treat other strangers equally and fairly no less than 36 times.” (You can view the post at tinyurl.com/jvp-eretz.)

Appallingly, JVP attempts to deny Jewish indigeneity to the land as a mechanism to delegitimize the modern State of Israel.

For context, this isn’t the first time that Oakland-based JVP has been disingenuous in its actions.

CAMERA — Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis — has written about JVP’s mendacious efforts at length.

It is clear that the recent Instagram post was nothing more than another talking point used to mask the internalized antisemitism of the group. The idea that the Jewish people are somehow “strangers” to the land of Israel can only be explained by JVP’s forgetting that the Jewish people came from the land of Judea.

Of course, JVP’s post employs an enormous double standard in its logic.

Why is it that JVP claims to consistently show support for all indigenous peoples, only to exclude the Jewish people and their connection to Israel?

You would think that, after expressing support in a tweet for “indigenous self-determination all around the world,” JVP would support a movement for the Jewish people to exercise self-determination in their ancestral homeland.

Does JVP even realize  that the Jewish people had a living, breathing homeland that was destroyed by the Roman invading force? It makes me wonder how JVP thinks the Jewish diaspora formed.

I would even argue that the stance taken by JVP in this situation displays a textbook case of assimilation through colonization.

The individuals at JVP have become so assimilated into the Western societies of today that they seem to have forgotten that the entirety of Jewish culture is a symbolic longing for the return to the land of Israel. Why else would our families, every year without fail, chant “Next year in Jerusalem”?

“Why is it that JVP claims to consistently show support for all indigenous peoples, only to exclude the Jewish people and their connection to Israel?”

Similarly, there is the custom of breaking the glass at Jewish weddings, a custom meant to symbolize the sorrow of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem after it was destroyed by the Romans in an act of colonization.

Almost eerily, the tweet by @BenLorber8, the one that JVP highlighted on its Instagram feed, goes on to say, “[W]e should respect the stranger in our midst or the land will spit us out.”

Why does JVP utilize such a self-righteous tone toward the Jewish people living in their homeland after hundreds of years of exile, instead of utilizing the same tone against those who caused our displacement, death and despair for all of those years? JVP, just like everyone else, has a right to disagree with individual policies and actions of any government.

But rather than doing so, they seem to backhandedly threaten their own people.

This is another classic example of the victim-blaming rhetoric that is used by JVP. For them, it’s not about criticism or seeking a better future. It is about the demonization of the Jewish right to self-determine.

As much as I find JVP and its rhetoric to be incredibly unpleasant and ahistorical, I feel that it is only right to end my thoughts on JVP with the fact that it pains me, and most Jewish people, that we have become so divided on something so simple: The Jewish people have never in history been able to rely on any nation to protect us from the horrors we have witnessed and experienced — except for Israel.

Does that mean that every Jew must agree that the Israeli government has done everything right?

Of course not.

Does it mean that we must understand that Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people and that we must find a way to live in peace with all of our neighbors, rather than adding more division to the conflict?

Yes, it does.

Originally published in the Jewish News of Northern California.

Contributed by 2020-2021 University of California – Davis CAMERA Fellow Eden Bouskila.

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