Alas, perhaps the mouth is Jewish, but they are not Jewish voices at all.
As the right hand man to Yasser Arafat, President Mahmoud Abbas has been in the international community’s eye for a long time. Yet, it was Abbas’ rant at the Palestinian National Council on April 30th that finally surpassed the world’s tolerance for the leader’s anti-Semitism.
And while the Jewish community pushed a strong front of unified condemnation against Abbas’ bigotry, as any would and should – an anti-Israel group called Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) used this moment to show that they are still tone deaf to decency. Sprinkling in Israel-hatred, JVP wrote, “Anti-Semitism is not okay. Neither is leveraging anti-Semitism in service of racism against Palestinians.” At the very least, they don’t take anti-Semitism seriously, and should be stripped of its legitimacy as a “Jewish voice” on that account alone.
Yet, one cannot expect anti-Semitism to bother a group that cares very little about the deaths of innocent Jews. This is evidenced by their erasure of Palestinian terrorists’ kill counts. A 2016 “Save Rasmea” campaign sought to protect Rasmea Odeh of the PFLP, who is responsible for the 1969 Supersol Bombing that killed and maimed Israelis, from deportation by the Department of Homeland Security. JVP maintains, against all evidence, that Odeh had no part in orchestrating the terror plot that ultimately killed Edward Jaffe, 21, and Leon Kanner, 20. To the horror of the victims’ families, in 2017, JVP invited Odeh to speak to Jewish students at their conference.
JVP’s lamentations are instead directed towards Palestinian lives, only. They have said Kaddish (a Jewish mourning prayer) for Palestinians killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. They have continued that tradition ever since, even for violent offenders. More recently, on April 20, JVP-Chicago hosted a “Shabbat vigil” that honored the lives of Palestinian protesters and Hamas members “by speaking their names [and] reciting the Kaddish.”
As a result of such activities, accusations against the group such as “Self-hating Jew” have erupted. As a “Jewish voice” they essentially legitimize anti-Semitism within anti-Israel circles. However, pumping anti-Semitism also serves a great utility for their own legitimacy. Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson of JVP pointed out that an effective social justice group must be careful not to lose the trust of the community it seeks to serve. Showing callousness to the Jewish community’s interests, and indifference to Jewish lives in Israel, such as when they co-sponsor with groups that call for an intifada, is a proclamation of their commitment to work for Palestinian lives and not Jewish ones. Alas, perhaps the mouth is Jewish, but they are not Jewish voices at all.
And though J Street and JVP are rarely lumped into the same category, both of them have taken on missions that are against the majority of the Jewish community and the Israeli people. One misleadingly labels itself as “pro-Israel,” while seeking to undermine Israeli democracy using pressure in Congress. The other supports terrorists and claims to be “pro-peace.”
J Street, on the other hand, presents itself as a progressive pro-Israel group. Their modus operandi is to force Israel, through pressure and policies adopted in Congress, to concede to their vision. The effects of which they will never have to live through as American Jews. In order to find acceptance within the increasingly Israel-intolerant progressive movement, they have drowned out pro-Israel talking points. A barrage of negativity, disproportionately against Israel, awaits anyone who scrolls through their social media pages. At the J Street conference in April, former Haaretz journalist Ori Nir criticized Israel at length for its aggressive actions at the Gaza border and then said he was “impressed” by the “classic non-violence” displayed by Palestinians protesters. When challenged, he admitted, “these are not non-violent demonstrations.. Only.”
At the conference, students also learned that anti-Semitism is incited when Jews position themselves in power. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah, said; “I don’t know how many of you had this reaction when hearing the names of Mnuchin and Cohn and all of the people advising Trump on economics. When the economy crashes, who are people going to blame?” Rather than explaining the irrationality of hatreds, she questioned if “as Jews” Trump’s advisors should have taken positions in the White House at all. To add insult to injury, she used the Torah to empathize with Abbas’ prejudices. “I can imagine the Egyptians are sitting around thinking… and [Jews] have all those relationships with Pharaoh and don’t have any relationships with us, so okay fine, we’re happy that they’re in slavery,’” she said.
Contributed by Brooklyn College CAMERA Fellow Hannah Grossman.
Since being published, this article has also appeared in The Algemeiner.