On November 3rd, the official Twitter account for Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVPA), the lobbying wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, claimed that the shared values of the United States and Israel are “super racist.” Five days later, on November 8th, Beth Miller, Political Director for JVPA and JVP Live, tweeted that “Groups who support apartheid anywhere,” a thinly veiled dog whistle for Zionist Jews,will happily burn down democracy everywhere.” On December 13th, @jvplive tweeted, “Being pro-Israel in America also means being complicit in conservative efforts to sustain white supremacy, roll back reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights, and weaken democracy.”

A November 8th, 2022 tweet by Beth Miller, Political Director for Jewish Voice for Peace Action and Jewish Voice for Peace Live, vilifying Zionist Jews, which she describes as a group that “supports apartheid.” Also visible is a retweet of the comment by the official Jewish Voice for Peace NYC Twitter account.

These statements stem from a long and potent history of prejudices debasing Jews as the source of the world’s misfortune, epitomizing what society perceives to be the greatest evil. Do not be fooled by its moniker, Jewish Voice for Peace isn’t a peace-making organization; its cause is simple: to delegitimize the State of Israel and promote antisemitism. Worse yet, the organization has a significant following on social media and maintains chapters on college campuses around the country, which skews its outreach toward younger people.

In Pittsburgh, Jewish Voice for Peace promotes action through blatant slanderous petitions calling for “honest coverage of Israeli attacks on Palestinians from the NY Times” in October 2022. However, the petition actually requests that the New York Times antagonize Israel’s defensive actions in response to Palestinian terrorism by The Lion’s Den terror group. Following the national organization’s goal of promoting the Deadly Exchange initiative, in 2021, a petition circulated by the Pittsburgh JVP claimed, “U.S. police are using the tactics of occupying armies [Israel] on the people of this country.” Not only did these accusations conflate contemporary American political issues like identity politics and racial profiling, but they also accused Israel of being a basis, if not inspiration, for issues within America. These lies and petitions propagated by the JVP around the country and college campuses serve to characterize Israel as a “violent ethnostate.”

This is a classic example of Jewish Voice for Peace utilizing anti-semitism by connecting and blaming Jews for societal issues within America. This radical organization’s initiatives attempt to delegitimize the only democratic state in the Middle East by imposing impossible expectations on a country that is constantly under threat from both surrounding countries and terrorist organizations which actively call for its elimination and for a genocide of the Jewish people.

This was largely the reason that the ADL proposed the police exchange initiative in the first place; Israel has been dealing with the constant threat of terrorism even before the country’s inception in 1948, while American soil was largely unaffected before 9/11. For a country that specializes in combating antisemitism and terrorism, the JVP’s opposition to the exchanges between police in America and Israel, where there is “no tactical or military training whatsoever.” is deaf to legitimate concerns for domestic terrorism in the United States. Particularly following the deadly Tree of Life Shooting in October 2018.

As we know too well, spewing blatant lies and hatred about both Jews and the State of Israel is not without implications. A 2022 report published by the AMCHA Initiative in November documented 254 attacks on Jewish identity in the 2021-2022 school year alone, a figure double the previous academic year. Furthermore, the same report notes that “ attempts to disconnect Zionism from Judaism and from progressive causes nearly tripled.”

Jewish Voice for Peace attempts to ignore and erase the Jewish connection to the land of Israel and define Zionism as a“settler-colonial movement” For JVP, indigenous rights and self-determination seem to apply to everyone except Jews. Israel is and has always been our homeland. Communities across the diaspora have always maintained deep cultural and religious ties to the region. For instance, major sects of the Jewish faith across the diaspora have taught for centuries that one should pray toward Jerusalem, in addition to many prayers and blessings focusing on the land of Israel itself.

In the central prayer of any service, the Amidah, there is a whole verse dedicated to the return to Israel “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy. Blessed are You L-rd, who restores His Divine Presence to Zion.” on important holidays like the New Year, Yom Kippur, and Passover it is customary to say L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim which translates to “Next year in Jerusalem.”.

Religious customs like these explain why, after enduring thousands of years in exile and subjugation in foreign lands when given the opportunity, the Jews returned.

In the 19th century and rising antisemitism around the world contributed to waves of immigration called aliyahs, five of which took place between 1882 and 1939.

In 1921, Hajj Amin al-Husayni was declared the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British. During his reign, al-Husanyni spread anti-Jewish propaganda across the Middle East, inspiring pogroms, antisemitic attitudes, and discriminatory policies.

To cite a few examples, Al-Husayni incited the 1920 Nebi Musa riots that left five Jews dead and left hundreds injured and the 1929 Hebron massacre. Al-Husayni also set the stage in the early 1930s for Jewish antagonism and anti-Jewish violence across the Middle East for decades to follow. Continuing through the 1940s, Al-Husayni collaborated with the Nazis, encouraging the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi-controlled regions in North Africa and influencing plans for the “Final Solution.”

In spite of this history, Jewish leaders still accepted the 1947 Partition Plan, which proposed dividing Mandatory Palestine into two states; one Jewish and one Arab. Arab leaders rejected the proposal and chose to wage war against Israel instead, forgoing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

As an organization, Jewish Voice for Peace doesn’t seem to think that the Arab leaders who waged this war against the fledgling Jewish state are responsible for the displacement of people during the War of 1948. If JVP did, they would have to recognize the history of intolerance and ethnic cleansing of Jews in Arab and Muslim lands.

Since 1947, all two-state solutions that have been proposed have been rejected by Palestinian and Arab leaders who have refused to accept a Jewish state in any form. This has not changed. Shuafat and Beit Hanina Branch Deputy Secretary Musa Al-Rajabi, an official of the Palestinian Authority, asserted that“We’ll continue to confront it with bare chests until the liberation of Palestine – Palestine from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, Palestine which is Arab and Islamic. It will remain ours.” in a May 2021 broadcast on PA Television. With rhetoric like this from Palestinian leaders, especially when pushed to younger audiences, peace with Israel does not appear to be a priority.

All of these lies promoted by JVP to college-age audiences around the country harm perception of Israel and directly conflate the evils of the world, racism, colonialism, and other forms of violence directly with Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beyond the blatant anti-semitic agenda, what is perhaps the most egregious of these actions is that the JVP supports such drastic measures and rhetoric while simultaneously claiming that these beliefs are acceptable because they themselves are a Jewish organization aiming for “Judaism beyond Zionism.”

A slightly edited version of this editorial was published in Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) on January 18th, 2023.

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