Washington Jewish Week coverage (Five objectionable words, June 3, 2015) of J Street legislative efforts to remove anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) language from trade legislation failed to identify a key ally of the purportedly pro-Israel, pro-peace group. That J Street ally was Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as the most influential anti-Zionist group in the United States.
ADL also notes Jewish Voice for Peace's support of the BDS movement and its role in providing the anti-Israel effort a veneer of legitimacy
and camouflage against identification as antisemitic (Profile: Jewish Voice for Peace, Nov. 18, 2014, ADL).
Reporter Melissa Apter noted J Street rallied its supporters last week, urging its members to call their member of Congress to decry language amended to a free trade bill. Washington Jewish Week reported that J Street objected to language attached to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill seeking to prevent European trading partners from engaging in boycotts of the Jewish state. J Street claims on its Web site that it will not participate in targeted boycott or divestment initiatives, but argued the congressional language was pro-settlement and thus apparently exempt.
J Street asserts that Jewish communities living on around 5 percent of land held by Israel since its successful defense against Arab wars of aggression in 1967 and 1973 are somehow responsible for lack of Arab-Israeli peace. This overlooks the numerous violent attacks against the Jewish statebefore those wars and sinceas well as numerous Palestinian statements, including that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who declared in a 2009 television broadcast that he would not accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. It ignores too Palestinian refusals of two-state offers in 2000, 2001, 2008 and 2014.
But J Street was not the only organization to call for the elimination of the bipartisan trade languageit termed the provision objectionabledesigned to prevent anti-Israel discrimination.
Jewish Voice for Peace also called for the elimination of the anti-BDS wording. JVP places the onus for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel and engages in one-sided attacks and demands.
'Pro-Israel, pro-peace' echoes anti-Zionist, pro-BDS
It joins members of what it refers to merely as Palestinian civil society groups in calls for boycotts of the Jewish state. These civil society groups that gave BDS its start included U.S.-listed terrorist organizations Hamas and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of Fatah, as well as Syrian extremist groups.
JVP also has been exposed promoting discredited claims of Israeli massacres. It does not include among its listed demands that Palestinian terrorist groups halt attacks against Israeli soldiers.
JVP deceptions have taken other forms. In 2011, for example, activist Gabriel Matthew Schivone was exposed (Jewish Voice for Peace': A Voice for Defamation, June 17, 2008, CAMERA) as falsely claiming to be Jewish.
Voltaire famously observed that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. Similarly, Jewish Voice for Peace, while a noisy voice from part of the anti-Zionist fringe, is neither particularly Jewish nor supportive of any sort of peace Israel could survive. However, JVP was an ally of J Street in advocating removal of anti-BDS language from congressional trade legislation, something the Washington Jewish Week would have done well to note for its readers. Sometimes we really are known by the company we keep, and J Street's aligning with Jewish Voice for Peace tells us something important about its pro-Israel, pro-peace pretensions.