UPDATE 4 (Oct. 30, 2023): JVP Justifies Hamas Massacre While Deploring Israel’s Defense as a “Genocide”
In response to the Hamas terrorist invasion of Israel on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah — the deadliest day for Jews since the end of the Holocaust — and in the wake of its barbaric attacks (which included the terrorists going house to house, Nazi einzsatzgruppen-style, to gun down entire families—men women, children, infants and the elderly; targeting youth at an open-air concert; murdering, raping, torturing, burning alive, decapitating and mutilating their victims; taking hostages; parading and abusing their Israeli hostages to the cheering and jeering of Palestinians in Gaza); in the wake of Hamas’ celebration of this success in its stated mission to annihilate Israel and the Jews, JVP posted the following message on X (twitter), justifying the Palestinian terrorists’ savagery and turning the blame on Israel:
In the ensuing days, JVP stepped up its campaign of slander against the Jewish state, agitating against Israel’s right to defend its citizens from a genocidal terrorist group. Its ongoing campaign is based on brazen lies that turns the tables to accuse the Jewish state of declaring “a genocidal war on the people of Gaza,” and pressures the U.S. government to withdraw support from Israel.
To this end, JVP has posted a “We Remember” list naming children allegedly killed by Israel, with names and statistics given them by the terrorist regime, but has not posted any “We Remember” list for the Jewish children who were kidnapped, slaughtered, burnt alive and mutilated by the Hamas terrorists.
At the rallies they organize to vilify Israel and end support for the Jewish state, JVP members adopt the accoutrements and symbols of Jewish religious rituals, as they scream and incite against the Jewish state and in support of its enemies who delight in shedding Jewish blood. These symbols, accoutrements, and identification as Jews are used solely for the purpose of legitimizing the vile antisemitism of JVP members and their endorsement of those whose goal and mission is to destroy Jews.
UPDATE 3 (June 14, 2022): JVP and Former Executive Director Rebecca Vilkommerson Promote Jew-Targeting Map
A recent manifestation of the BDS campaign’s intrinsic Jew hatred was the creation and promotion of a local “mapping project” in the Boston area as a resource for anti-Semitic engagement during a time of rising anti-Semitism. The map targets Jewish religious, educational and communal organizations for disruption and dismantlement, but before it was roundly condemned by politicians across the political spectrum, both JVP and its former JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkommerson promoted the Jew-targeting resources, urging that they be expanded to other cities as well.
UPDATE 2 (June 2, 2022): JVP Promotes Anti-Jewish Blood Libel
JVP is sliding deeper and deeper into classic anti-Semitism. While the self-acknowledged anti-Zionist group publicly tries to differentiate between anti–Zionism and anti-Semitism, the sharing of a classic blood libel cartoon on their Instagram account has made it abundantly clear what JVP actually is rather than what it pretends to be—a classic anti-Semitic hate group that is Jewish in name only.
The cartoon by Bahraini artist Sara Qaed was one of several anti-Israel images that JVP featured on its Instagram and the one that conjured the most obvious anti-Jewish blood libel of the Middle Ages, as shown below.
The cartoon depicts Israeli soldiers toasting each other with the blood of their victims, and it mimics the anti-Jewish blood libels of the Middle Ages that accused Jews of bloodletting based on the primitive superstition that Jews are agents of the devil seeking to brutalize, murder or harm non-Jews in order to benefit the Jewish people. These blood libels, which frequently involved tales of ritual bloodletting perpetrated by Jews on non-Jews, either to reenact and mock the Crucifixion or for the baking of Matza, incited many massacres of Jews and destruction of their communities in Europe.
Although the classic blood libel was ostensibly rooted in early European Christianity, unlike other long extinguished medieval beliefs, it has not been put to rest. From the Damascus Affair in 1840, when the classic blood libel was first introduced to the Middle East and used against Damascus Jews, to the 1983 publication of “The Matza of Zion,” a book that expanded on that blood libel authored by Mustafa Tlas, Syria’s defense minister from the early 1970’s until 2004, and onwards until today, blood libels have been used in the Muslim and Arab world as a tool to demonize Jews; Zion, Zionism, and the Jewish state are often the representative and stand-in for the Jews and Israeli defensive military actions are the replacement for Jewish matza bakers seeking blood, with the differences between classic and anti-Zionist blood libels often blurred or erased. It is not surprising, therefore that the Bahraini artist easily included a classic blood libel image of Jews drinking the blood of their non–Jewish victims in her portfolio of anti-Israel “artwork”. But that a group calling itself “Jewish” would actually promote and celebrate the type imagery that has incited so many massacres of Jews and the destruction of so many Jewish communities provides the definitive proof that gives lie to the anti-Semitic group’s name “Jewish Voice for Peace.”
UPDATE 1 (September 10, 2021): Comparing Terrorists to Jewish Victims of Holocaust
Lest there be any remaining doubt about the extremist, anti-Jewish bigotry of the inaptly named “Jewish Voice for Peace” group, their recent Instagram messages should put that to rest. Beyond messages celebrating the escape of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails as “self-liberation,” a recent message equates terrorists who escaped from prison while serving life sentences for the murders of Jews, with those who managed to escape the Nazi genocide of Jews during the Holocaust.
It comes as no surprise to those acquainted with the group’s increasingly radical anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic activities. Read on for a fuller exposition of the group’s anti-Jewish hate rhetoric and actions.
“an organization that opposes Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and the continued expansion of settlements in the region” (Chicago Tribune, May 5, 2014)
“an anti-discrimination group” (Boston Globe, Aug. 7, 2015);
“an American Jewish group” that has been “critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians” (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 8, 2018 and Sept. 9, 2015);
a “U.S. organization…run by Jewish activists” (Washington Post, July 8, 2018);
“an organization that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories” (Detroit Free Press, Sept. 14, 2019);
a “liberal group… critical of the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu” that “advocates Palestinian rights” (New York Times, Dec. 7, 2017 and Sept. 19, 2019)
Given its choice of name and the media’s descriptions, people might believe Jewish Voice for Peace is a human rights group representing Jewish concerns while promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, but nothing can be further from the truth: The name “Jewish Voice for Peace” is simply a mask – the group neither promotes peace nor represents the overwhelming majority of Jews. Rather, it partners with anti-Semites of all sorts to attack mainstream Jewish organizations and interests while it labors to redefine “anti-Semitism” to exclude its own activists’ malevolent activities.
Despite its sanctimonious claim of being “inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice and human rights,” JVP is not focused on constructive promotion of human rights and peace, but on destructive attacks on Israel and Jews. Its animus is not directed against any specific Israeli policy or leader, but against the entire notion of a Jewish ancestral homeland and of Jewish self-determination. Its overarching goal is to delegitimize and promote the dismantlement of a Jewish state and its major focus is to provoke rancor against the concept of Jewish nationhood and nationalism whilst portraying such anti-Jewish hostility as outside the realm of antisemitism.
CAMERA’s backgrounder provides a detailed look at JVP’s actions, demonstrating how – despite its disclaimers – it is, both in effect and intent, an anti-Semitic hate group that seeks to damage the interests of Jews worldwide.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Clicking on any heading will take you directly to that section)
JVP’s Campus Activities: Muzzling Alternate Viewpoints, Stifling Educational Opportunities and Intimidating Jewish Students
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) was co-founded in 1996 by three Berkeley undergraduates who were angered by the decision in Israel at the time to open the Western Wall tunnels to Jews. The student activists responded by forming a far-left group to vent their spleen against Israel. Over time, the radical, anti-Israel group moved further and further into outright antisemitic terrain. The group became vociferous proponents of the antisemitic BDS campaign against the Jewish state, and its members involved themselves increasingly in outright antisemitic activities and actions.
Although it has long sanctioned boycott of Israel, JVP was initially reticent about the wholesale adoption of the antisemitic campaign and claimed only to “support efforts to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.” Indeed, JVP’s earlier website had explicitly declared: “We are not advocating divestment from Israel” – even while it supported the boycotters.
In 2011, the group ventured further to endorse the boycott campaign; it talked about “sharing the aims of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee” (PNC) which it sanitized by erasing the PNC’s overall aim of annihilating the Jewish state. A statement released by JVP declared:
JVP shares the aims of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee – ending the occupation, achieving equality for Palestinians now living in Israel, and recognizing Palestinian refugees’ right of return. JVP focuses our efforts on boycott and divestment campaigns that directly target Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. We believe this to be the most effective way for JVP to help bring about the aims we share with the Palestinian BDS call.
By 2015, JVP’s “sharing the aims” of Palestinian boycott had become a full-throated embrace of BDS in its entirety. And JVP’s website created a web page to trumpet the group’s patronage of BDS.
At the same time, JVP became more emboldened to dabble in classic anti-Semitism (their “Deadly Exchange” campaign, for example) under the guise of anti-Israel activism.
JVP, a full-fledged participant of BDS, claims to have 10,000 individual donors, 60+ chapters, 28 staff members, and Rabbinic, Arts, Health, and Academic Advisory Councils to help spread its treacherous message in different venues.
For 10 years (from 2009-2019) the group was led by Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, who stepped down in September 2019 for unstated reasons. In March 2020, acting co-director Stefanie Fox assumed the position as executive director.
JVP is registered as a US-based non-profit organization. It received $3.7 million dollars in revenue in 2017, according to its IRS records. Among the foundations that contribute to JVP are the private Rockefeller Brothers Fund – which donated $280K between 2015-19 and upped its biennial pledge to $175K in 2019; and Firedoll Foundation – which has donated $100K since 2013. Donor-advised funds include the Tides Foundation, contributing nearly $220K since 2014; and the Schwab Charitable Foundation, contributing nearly $855K between 2012 and 2017.
JVP’s Goal: Dividing Jews and Eliminating the Jewish State
Former Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson first acknowledged in a 2013 panel discussion that JVP’s purpose was, in fact, a divisive one – to drive a wedge between American Jews and the Jewish state as it promotes radical boycott campaigns against Israel. She declared:
“I think part of our job as the Jewish wing of the [Palestinian solidarity] movement, is to facilitate conversations inside the Jewish community… I think it’s very important to think sort of how we plan a wedge… So, I think that the more and more we can sort of put that wedge in, saying the Jewish community’s not agreeing on these issues, the more we’ll make progress.” (Quoted by Yitzhak Santis from transcript of Vilkomerson’s speech, in “Driving a Wedge: JVP’s Strategy to Weaken U.S. Support for Israel by Dividing the Jewish Community,” NGO-Monitor Report, July 8, 2018)
In planting the wedge, JVP began by initially equivocating about BDS’ mission to eliminate the Jewish state even while the campaign’s Palestinian leaders and activists repeatedly declared their goal was to wipe the Jewish state off the map and replace it with a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.”
For example, BDS founder Omar Barghouti declared:
“A Jewish state in Palestine, in any shape or form, cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population…definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian – rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian—will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
Cal State University political science professor/BDS proponent Asad Abu Khalil similarly explained:
“That [the real aim of BDS is to bring down the Jewish state] should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
Political commentator/ BDS activist Ahmed Moor made clear that:
“BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself.”
JVP, however, deliberately avoided acknowledging BDS’ real purpose, hiding behind words like “freedom, justice and equality” and even arguing that boycotting the Jewish state is good for Jewish Israelis because it makes their society less racist. JVP justified its adoption of the destructive campaign, slandering the Jewish national movement as a “settler-colonial movement” and condemning Israel as “an apartheid state where Jews have more rights than others.”
To clarify: The rights that JVP and fellow BDS activists decry are precisely the rights, embodied in Israel’s law of return, that allow Jews to freely immigrate to the country and ensure that Jewish refugees from anywhere at any time can find a safe haven in their ancestral homeland.
Coupled with JVP’s rejection of the right for Jews to freely move to Israel, it promotes rights for millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to move to Israel and turn Jews into a minority in their ancestral homeland. By denying rights for those with Jewish ancestry while promoting rights for those with Palestinian ancestry, what JVP and BDS are advocating is the annihilation of a Jewish state through demographic means. As BDS leader Omar Barghouti has clarified:
“You cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two state solution…a return for refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
To camouflage BDS’ toxic goal, JVP invokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguing that the “rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” is “stipulated in UN Resolution 194” to suggest that these documents enshrine the right of Palestinians to settle freely in Israel.
But like so much of JVP’s disingenuous cover-up of its antisemitic purpose, this too is a falsehood.
The 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution suggested that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors… be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” It was a recommendation, as opposed to a legal directive, that was predicated upon the refugees’ acceptance of Israel and willingness to live at peace with their Jewish neighbors. Arab leaders repeatedly rejected the resolution precisely because they refused to accept a Jewish state within any boundaries. That this resolution pertained equally to Jewish rights of refugees from Arab countries is not acknowledged by JVP. In fact, the majority of international legal scholars consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights inapplicable to Palestinians who had never been citizens of Israel. (For more, see “The Palestinian Claim to a Right of Return” by Dr. Alex Safian).
Finally, in 2019, the JVP leadership came out and acknowledged its true mission with a strident assault on the notion of Jewish self-determination. Predictably, it couched its spiteful attack in self-righteous terms, endeavoring to distance its own malevolent, anti-Jewish actions from classic anti-Semitism by deviously changing the roles to recast Zionism, rather than JVP itself, as the malign force:
Jewish Voice for Peace is guided by a vision of justice, equality and freedom for all people. We unequivocally oppose Zionism because it is counter to those ideals…
…We have come to see that Zionism was a false and failed answer to the desperately real question many of our ancestors faced of how to protect Jewish lives from murderous antisemitism in Europe…
…the Zionism that took hold and stands today is a settler-colonial movement, establishing an apartheid state where Jews have more rights than others. Our own history teaches us how dangerous this can be…
…Zionism, in practice, has resulted in massacres of Palestinian people, ancient villages and olive groves destroyed, families who live just a mile away from each other separated by checkpoints and walls, and children holding onto the keys of the homes from which their grandparents were forcibly exiled…
…Because the founding of the state of Israel was based on the idea of a “land without people,” Palestinian existence itself is resistance…
…Rather than accept the inevitability of occupation and dispossession, we choose a different path.
JVP is no longer timid about proclaiming its true objectives or its plans to disrupt and divide Jewish communities. The organization is so confident about its destructive anti-Zionist/antisemitic purpose that its current mission declaration openly states:
We work to build Jewish communities that reflect the understanding that being Jewish and Judaism are not synonymous with Zionism or support for Israel.
Attacking Opponents of Antisemitism
Natan Sharansky, a human rights activist who was imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag for almost a decade before immigrating to Israel and serving in its parliament, first attempted to distinguish between anti-Semitism and valid criticism of Israel in 2004. Intimately acquainted with Soviet anti-Semitism, he understood that anti-Semitism was on the rise globally, increasingly disguised as criticism of Zionism and the Jewish state. He decided to spell it out clearly, describing what he called the 3 D’s of anti-Semitism – “Demonization,” “Delegitimization,” and “Double Standards.”
About “Demonization,” he wrote: “When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.”
Regarding “Delegitimization,” he explained: “When Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.”
And about “Double Standards,” he noted: “When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the UN for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers is ignored – this is anti-Semitism.”
These 3 D’s became a very useful and widely accepted litmus test to gauge anti-Semitism masquerading as criticism of Israel – with JVP guilty of all of them.
At around the same time, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia – known as the EUMC – conducted a study of anti-Semitism in Europe and came out with a “working definition of antisemitism” intended as a guideline for identifying the growing number of antisemitic incidents there, and for legislation against antisemitism.”
The EUMC defined antisemitism as follows:
“A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews… Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”
The examples given included both classic anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism that targeted the state of Israel “conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” It included, among other things:
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews or the power of Jews as a collective — such as the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government, etc.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, by claiming, for example, that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. and
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
This definition similarly describes JVP’s mission and actions.
In 2009, the EUMC was replaced by a different organization whose mandate did not include defining anti-Semitism, so the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), a global organization that combats Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, took formal ownership of “The Working Definition of Antisemitism” with just minor changes from the original EUMC document. This IHRA definition was widely adopted around the world, including by such countries as Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Cyprus, Canada, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, and almost two dozen other European countries and the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain. Numerous other entities, including the European Union Parliament, universities around the world, and the Global Imams Council, an international body of Muslim leaders, adopted this definition as well .
In the US, the definition was first adopted by the State Department and the Commission on Civil Rights and was used as the working definition in a bipartisan bill introduced in the House and Senate to combat antisemitism on campus. Under the bill, called the Antisemitism Awareness Act, the IHRA definition was to be used to help the Department of Education determine whether incidents of harassment in schools and on campus are anti-Semitic in nature and thus in violation of Title VI, the US anti-discrimination law.
The bill was first introduced in 2016, during the Obama administration, and passed the senate unanimously. It was then referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it got stuck after several witnesses spoke out against it, attacking the bill as infringing on free speech rights. Since then, the Antisemitism Awareness Act has been reintroduced several times – once in 2018 and twice in 2019 – and remains mired in debate spurred by those who want to narrow and limit the definition of anti-Semitism.
Attacking the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
Among the bill’s fiercest adversaries are JVP leaders and members who try to misrepresent their own antisemitic rhetoric and campaigns as human rights activism and valid criticism of Israel. The group actively agitates against the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and attacks the anti-BDS legislation introduced in Senate and Congress, as well as other efforts to raise awareness of antisemitism. JVP leaders write op-eds and circulate petitions that falsely claim the bills are “intended to codify criticism of Israel as antisemitic” and to “make dissent about Israel illegal” when, in fact, neither the definition of antisemitism nor the bills proposing its use would outlaw criticism or dissent about Israel. On the contrary: The definition includes language specifying that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
JVP dismisses the widely-accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism as undemocratic, substituting its own alternate definition that restricts age-old hatred against Jews to Christian theology-based or Nazi white supremacist-based racial theories alone. JVP’s disingenuous propaganda is aimed at those who are unacquainted with antisemitism or with the proposed legislation against it, as it sounds an alarm against any practical attempt to hold people accountable for anti-Semitic persecution of others, demanding that:
It is vital that Jewish organizations across the globe stand united against harmful definitions of antisemitism and together for human rights and the freedom to protest. We at JVP are proud to have initiated this historic effort.
Former Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson joined Linda Sarsour—a vitriolic, anti-Israel, BDS activist who has been accused of outright antisemitism—on a panel and a publication that redefined antisemitism to exclude the panelists’ own activities.
On December 15, 2020, JVP expanded its campaign to discredit the widely accepted understanding of antisemitism. The group convened a panel, chaired by JVP Deputy Director Alissa Wise to redefine antisemitism and attack the IHRA definition. The panel was composed of those who seek the demise of the Jewish state and included Rashida Tlaib—a U.S. congress member accused of using antisemitic tropes of dual loyalty, spreading anti-Jewish blood libels, singling out politicians for criticism because of their Jewish identity, and having close ties to a Holocaust denying, conspiracy theorist and terror-supporting anti-Zionist activists; Barbara Ransby — a university professor in History, African American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies and a prominent player in the BDS movement who has supported a violent anti-Israel terrorist and who uses her platform to spread false anti-Israel propaganda; Marc Lamont Hill —a BDS proponent and one-time CNN journalist who advocates the elimination of a Jewish state, justifies anti-Israel terrorism, and is associated with the notoriously antisemitic Louis Farrakhan. The only Jew on the antisemitism panel, aside from JVP’s deputy director, was Peter Beinart — an “as a Jew” Jew who has made a career of vilifying the Jewish state and advocating its abolition.
JVP Deputy Director Alissa Wise set the stage for the panel discussion, after establishing her bona fides as a Jew who claimed firsthand experience of antisemitism as well as family members “murdered by the Nazis,” by presenting JVP’s hostile anti-Zionist position through a first-person account of her own personal rejection of the Zionist beliefs in which she said she was raised.
Wise vehemently dismissed the concept of the Jewish state providing a safe haven for those fleeing antisemitism, repeatedly proclaiming, “This is not true, thank God…This never sat right with me…I was instinctively repulsed by it.” Instead, she shifted the emphasis to her self-proclaimed “humanity” and devotion to the Palestinians. Falsely charging Israel with tormenting and abusing Palestinians, she trotted out tired, fallacious tropes about “Jewish-only” roads that are a mainstay of propagandists who seek to portray Israel as an apartheid state.
With personal anecdotes about her repudiation of Zionism and false allegations against Zionists and Israelis, the JVP deputy director set up a framework for the discussion where those who support Zionism and the Jewish state were portrayed as miscreants who oppose solidarity and friendship with Palestinians, while those who engage in anti-Zionist rhetoric and activities were depicted as noble humanitarians who love and strive for the betterment of their fellow man. “Loving Jews means loving Palestinians,” Wise piously declared, “because a free Palestine is required if we want a free world for everyone, including Jews.”
The JVP deputy director ludicrously proclaimed that it is “people who want to maintain Israeli government control over Palestinian lives and land” who “call solidarity with Palestinians ‘a form of anti-Jewish hatred.’ “
Of course, supporters of Zionism neither seek to “control Palestinian lives” nor consider friendship with Palestinians a “form of anti-Jewish hatred.” Nor do they view specified criticism of an Israeli government decision or policies to be antisemitic. On the contrary. Zionists freely engage in constructive, directed criticism of Israeli policies. What is widely viewed as a form of antisemitism, by contrast, is the generalized demonization of the Jewish state and delegitimization of a Jewish nation and a Jewish ancestral homeland. And it is precisely this anti-Jewish scheme that JVP tries to justify and promote. Thus the panel was geared to distorting the meaning of antisemitism, which the JVP chair claimed was “a tool used to manufacture fear and division.”
On Oct. 21, 2020, when the U.S. State Department was reported to be considering ending aid for BDS-supporting groups like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and declaring them antisemitic, JVP denounced the state department and accused the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, of “cynically using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism” and of a “coordinated and documented campaign to silence and censor advocacy and activism for Palestinian rights.”
Teaming up with fellow BDS groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, JVP endeavors to thwart the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism on campus. It celebrated the defeat of a resolution against antisemitism at Butler University on October 21, 2020, tweetubg the following self-congratulatory statement:
Smearing Civil Rights Expert Kenneth Marcus
When the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of civil rights lawyer and expert Kenneth Marcus as the Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in 2018, JVP released a statement slurring him as “eminently unqualified” and “likely to use his power to violate [civil rights].”
In fact, Marcus has an extensive background in civil rights law. His qualifications for the position include his service as the Chair in ‘Equality and Justice in America’ at Baruch College, four years as staff director of the US Commission on Civil Rights, a 7-year tenure as president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and a previous appointment as assistant secretary for civil rights under President George Bush, in addition to his authoring of several books and articles about anti-Semitism.But Marcus opposes the BDS campaign, exposing its antisemitic underpinnings. JVP threatened, therefore, that if the Antisemitism Awareness Act became law, it would “give Marcus the power to falsely and maliciously label advocacy for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.”
Siding With UK’s Jeremy Corbyn
JVP’s efforts to allow antisemitism to flourish is not limited to the US. In the UK, it took up the cudgel for Jeremy Corbyn and the antisemitism coming from within the Labour Party under his leadership.
From September 2015, when Corbyn took the helm of the UK’s Labour Party until he was replaced as leader in April 2020, the party was beset with complaints and internal divisions about the antisemitism manifested by party members, as well as Corbyn’s tolerance of it and his own association with antisemites. In July 2018, the UK’s major Jewish newspapers warned that a Jeremy Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life”.
JVP sided with Corbyn and the antisemites within his party and turned their fire instead on those who called out the party’s antisemitism. A statement put out by JVP’s board of trustees again tried to turn the tables by mischaracterizing the increasing antisemitism coming from the Labour Party as mere “criticism of Israel.”
When the UK’s Labour Party soon afterwards changed course by adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism – after initially rejecting it – JVP attacked the party’s shift toward the IHRA definition. Writing in London’s Independent, then-Executive Director Vilkomerson employed falsehoods to support the views of Jeremy Corbyn, complaining that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was just a weapon “to target organisations campaigning for Palestinian rights” and claiming that it would shut down legitimate criticism of Israel’s “racist” policies of “segregated road systems” and “dual justice systems.” In fact, there are no racially segregated roads in Israel. Nor does the Israeli justice system differ for those of different races or religions. These are all part of the litany of falsehoods that form the basis of the JVP campaign to thwart opposition to antisemitism while promoting its agenda against the existence of a Jewish state.
In May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – Great Britain’s national equality body – announced its investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour party. The resulting report, published on Oct. 29, 2020, concluded that the party was responsible for several breaches of the Equality Act:
a) political interference in anti-Semitism complaints
b) failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and
c) harassment, including the use of anti-Semitic tropes and the dismissal of complaints about anti-Semitism as fake or smears.
The investigation found evidence of 23 instances of inappropriate involvement by Corbyn’s office. Corbyn’s response was to cast doubt on the EHRC results by claiming that the numbers of antisemitic complaints were “exaggerated” and that the scale of anti-Semitism within Labour was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party.” As a result of this response, the Labour party suspended Corbyn, who, in turn, contested his suspension from the party. He later reinstated into the party, but not as an member of parliament.
JVP again sided with Corbyn. Deputy Director Alissa Wise condemned the UK Labour Party for its suspension of Jeremy Corbyn by comparing it to her organization’s denunciation of the US Secretary of State’s criticism of the antisemitism manifested by Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International:
Targeting the ADL
JVP also targets the 106-year-old Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights organization founded by Jews to combat anti-Semitism and racism of all kinds. In 2018, the ADL was to have participated in a nationwide racial bias education day for Starbucks employees following the arrest of two black men who had entered a Starbucks café to use the washroom. Among those slated to give diversity training to the company’s employees was Jonathan Greenblatt, a progressive liberal former Obama staffer who heads the ADL.
JVP immediately launched a campaign to remove Greenblatt, the only Jew, from the list of speakers. They smeared the ADL with baseless slurs of Islamophobia and racism, falsely accusing it of being anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian. They demanded that the ADL director be excluded from the anti-racism teaching initiative, even though combating racism is precisely ADL’s mission. A JVP website page was devoted entirely to demonizing the ADL.
JVP’s attacks on the ADL echoes historic attacks on that veteran organization by such anti-Semitic organs as Henry Ford’s The International Jew during the 1920’s. For example:
“Let the Jew end forever the disgrace of an anti-defamation committee [the ADL] which grows frantic over innocent remarks on the part of “Gentiles,” and is absolutely indifferent to the misdeeds of thousands of Jews who do more damage to the Jewish name than all the “Gentile” critics and newspapers could do in twenty years. No one can give the Jews a bad reputation but the Jews themselves.” (The International Jew, Vol 4, Chapter 79)
The only difference is that the group now attacking the ADL labels itself “Jewish.”
Using Antisemitic Tropes as Basis for its “Deadly Exchange” Campaign
The ADL isn’t the only mainstream Jewish group in JVP’s crosshairs. In 2017, JVP launched an antisemitic campaign against what it called the “Deadly Exchange,” to target mainstream American Jewish organizations as well as Israeli Jews. The campaign was based on stoking political and racial tensions within the US to blame Jews for what it called “racist policing in the U.S.”
The JVP campaign dishonestly and maliciously claimed that exchange programs between American police, the FBI, ICE, and Israeli law enforcement agencies (unlike similar exchange programs between American law enforcement agencies and police forces in Mexico, Europe and other countries) share “worst practices” in order to “promote and extend discriminatory and repressive policing in both countries.” At the center of JVP’s campaign of disinformation, was the libel that Americans are being schooled by Israel in “extrajudicial executions, shoot to kill tactics, police murder, and attacking human rights defenders.”
A JVP film promoting its “Deadly Exchange” campaign (that was recently made private on YouTube but a version of which is still publicized, as of this writing, here) is filled entirely with inflammatory falsehoods whose sole purpose is to vilify U.S.-Israeli security collaboration and demonize both Israel’s and America’s law enforcers. The falsehoods put forth in the film include the following:
- The purpose of exchange trips with Israel is to “advance racist policies and target social justice movements as security threats.”
- “Delegates meet with Israeli riot police who are well documented in their use of violence when suppressing peaceful Palestinian protest.”
- The trips’ major focus is on “how to expand existing surveillance practices in both countries, with little regard for human or civil rights.”
- “The trips serve as an exchange of worst practices, emboldening racist policing in the U.S. and holding up an occupying army as a global gold standard.”
The campaign makes liberal use of anti-Semitic tropes to condemn mainstream American Jewish organizations – including the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Taglit Birthright, AIPAC, JINSA and the civil rights organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – for being “complicit” in the “deadly exchange” programs that allegedly corrupts non-Jews. The JVP campaign calls on followers to “hold accountable the Jewish institutions that run and fund the deadly exchange.”
Such allegations of Jewish racism, power and money perverting non-Jews evoke the age-old blood libels against Jews, and are reminiscent particularly of the notorious forgery, Protocols of the Learned Elders of Ziyon, that accused Jews of using their wealth and influence to manipulate and control non-Jews to their detriment.
There is no shred of evidence, nor does JVP bother to even try, to support its defamatory accusations. Its proponents have no direct knowledge of the exchange programs with Israel. Rather, the campaign is built entirely on fabrications brazenly promoted by Israel antagonists whose distinguishing goal is to stir up hatred against the Jewish state and Jewish organizations in the U.S.
The lies upon which the campaign is built are directly refuted by those with firsthand knowledge of the exchange programs.
Steve Pomerantz, who served as assistant director of the FBI before becoming Director of the Homeland Security Program at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) is the architect of one of the exchange programs. He explains how the program actually works and what its true goals are:
In truth, JINSA’s Homeland Security Program was launched in the wake of the September 11th attacks in order to address the well-recognized counterterrorism needs of local law enforcement in the U.S…. Despite suggestions to the contrary, there is no field training involved in either the conferences or trips, and no training on holds or arrest mechanics. The exchanges, which are hosted by the Israel National Police, focus on effective counterterrorism techniques.
Participants learn how Israeli law enforcement deters, disrupts, and responds to terrorist attacks. They explore the ideology of suicide bombers and other attackers, ways to de-escalate an ongoing incident, and the intelligence-gathering-and-sharing process.
Trip participants have discussed efforts to build trust with minority communities, visited hospital trauma units and crime scenes, and spoken with terrorists serving life sentences for murder. One year, JINSA organized a specialized trip for American bomb squad commanders which focused on topics such as post-blast forensics and the materials used in explosive devices…
Orlando police chief John Mina, who dealt with the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, when, in 2016, gunman Omar Mateen slaughtered 49 people in an Orlando LGBT nightclub and wounded more than 50 others, and who has participated in an exchange program similarly refuted the JVP slander, saying:
We’re not here to learn how to kill black people. We’re learning how to fight against terrorism. How to evacuate people at the scene of an attack. It only takes Israelis a couple of hours to clear an attack scene, whereas we need a few days. We’re studying investigation methods, because we have such a different way of working…We are certainly not learning how to kill black people.”
The description of the exchange program by Acting Chief of the Atlanta Police Department Rodney Bryant, who took over as police chief following the killing of Rayshard Brooks, belies the “Deadly Exchange” characterization of the program, as do the descriptions of other participants. Bryant, for example said:
One of our greatest challenges in American policing is serving a community that is vastly more diverse than the local police department. Comparatively, the Israeli police are responsible for serving a variety of demographics. I was impressed by the level of community policing efforts employed by the Israeli Police to build relationships and maintain peace among such diverse populations…”
When asked about the campaign against the exchange programs, Robert Friedmann, the director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange and Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University responded:
It’s a modern-day blood libel. In my mind, there’s no difference between claiming this and that Jews used the blood of Christian children to bake matza on Passover. This may seem milder, but it comes from the same place… It’s absolutely ridiculous, their accusations are baseless… Our goal is for as few people as possible to be harmed by violence and terrorism. If a person acts in an unlawful manner, he needs to be brought to justice, but that has nothing to do with us… For 25 years I’ve been bringing US police officers to Israel and they’ve never once been taught how to kill. They get to hear lectures about deploying forces, self-defense, law and constitutional rights. We never ever talk about assassinations.”
Since initiating the campaign in 2017, JVP has targeted municipalities across the U.S. with its anti-Semitic campaign. With several of its supporters on the City Council of Durham, North Carolina (including Durham’s mayor, Steve Schewel), JVP managed to push through its “Deadly Exchange” initiative. Durham became the first U.S. city to collaborate with JVP’s antisemitic initiative, followed by Northampton, Massachusetts and the Vermont State Police. An attempt to compel the Boston police to do the same drew a harsher backlash from Bostonians who protested in the Boston Globe, followed with a rejoinder signed by JVP’s acolytes and cronies.
With the escalation of racial tensions following the killing of George Floyd, in 2020, the falsehoods promoted by the campaign were embraced by anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish journalists and activists, including the antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who notoriously has praised Hitler, called Jews “termites” and Judaism a “deceptive lie.” Many of them referred or linked to the JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” campaign.
Perhaps the JVP leadership was directed by allies to temporarily tone down its “Deadly Exchange” campaign or perhaps it recognized that exploiting George Floyd’s murder to further their anti-Semitic campaign might eventually backfire. Whatever the reason, JVP attempted to walk back its “Deadly Exchange” campaign on June 5, 2020 with an updated statement on its website. The update states:
Making connections between the U.S. and Israel without context can do harm.
Highlighting these police exchange programs without enough context or depth can end up harming our movements for justice. Suggesting that Israel is the start or source of American police violence or racism shifts the blame from the United States to Israel. This obscures the fundamental responsibility and nature of the U.S., and harms Black people and Black-led struggle. It also furthers an antisemitic ideology. White supremacists look for any opportunity to glorify and advance American anti-Black racism, and any chance to frame Jews as secretly controlling and manipulating the world. Taking police exchanges out of context provides fodder for those racist and antisemitic tropes.
But once a demon is created and unleashed, it is not so easily stuffed back into the bottle. JVP chapters across the country continue to feature Facebook posts blaming Israel for Floyd’s murder, as do others who seize on the vicious JVP campaign as a handy tool to demonize Israel. For example:
Nor has JVP abandoned its bigoted “Deadly Exchange” propaganda campaign.
Partnering with Terrorists, Antisemites and White Supremacists
Even while attacking and actively campaigning against mainstream Jewish organizations and those who work to combat anti-Semitism, JVP partners with and advocates for Palestinian terrorists, their supporters and antisemites from across the spectrum, including white supremacists.
JVP campaigns for people like Leila Khaled, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and EU. She is notorious as the first female hijacker, who hijacked two commercial airliners in the 1960s and 70s and who has continued to justify and promote terrorism in panels that include JVP members and/or sponsored by JVP chapters.
When Zoom, Facebook and YouTube recently denied use of their platforms to disseminate Khaled’s and her cohorts’ hate rhetoric and terrorism advocacy, JVP directed its fire on these platforms, advocating for the terrorist whom it refers to as a Palestinian “resistance icon” and “freedom fighter.”
JVP has similarly campaigned for Rasmea Odeh, the PFLP terrorist who was convicted and sentenced to life in Israeli prison for her role in terror attacks, including the 1969 attempted bombing of the British Consulate and the bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
After devastating evidence was brought against her in a full trial deemed fair by an International Red Cross observer, Odeh was sentenced to life imprisonment and served 10 years in Israeli jail before being released in a prisoner exchange and moving to Jordan. She subsequently emigrated to the US, but was later found guilty of immigration fraud for lying about her earlier conviction and imprisonment. The PFLP terrorist lost her U.S. citizenship in 2014 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. But she appealed, alleging that her original signed confession of guilt in a terrorist act was false, extracted through sexual abuse and torture by Israeli investigators, and that she had been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when she lied on her U.S. immigration papers. Although she was granted a new hearing, she chose to forego the trial because it would have required her to produce evidence supporting her claims of innocence. Instead, she opted to relinquish her US citizenship and was deported back to Jordan.
Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson has studied Odeh’s case and written extensively about it, setting the record straight by demonstrating the overwhelming evidence of her guilt that belie her claims of false admission under torture and PTSD.
But despite the clearcut evidence for the PFLP terrorist’s lies and guilt, and until her deportation in 2017, JVP campaigned on her behalf, demanding the US courts exonerate her and twisting her case into a weapon with which to attack Israel. Its leaders embraced her, showered her with praise, and even invited her to address their annual convention, proclaiming their “deep respect” for the terrorist, and how “honoured” they were to host her. In their promotional material, they declared:
Jewish Voice for Peace is honored to feature deeply respected Palestinian organizer Rasmea Odeh at our upcoming National Membership Meeting….We are eager to hear from Odeh, a feminist leader in the Palestinian and Arab-American community in Chicago, precisely because she has survived decades of Israeli and US government persecution and oppression, and also because she lives and breathes the essential work of community organizing–having spent her life as both a lawyer and organizer for the empowerment of Arab women.
JVP has campaigned for other terrorists, as well, for example, PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Saadat who was imprisoned for his role in terrorism and the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi. JVP also campaigns for Marwan Barghouti, who is serving time in Israeli prison for his role in multiple deadly terror attacks in Israel and whom the JVP director publicly celebrated as a “freedom fighter.”
Contrary to his contention, Barghouti is not a political prisoner who was jailed for his beliefs. As a leader of Fatah’s militia, Barghouti was convicted for attacks that killed five people, including an attack in Maale Adumim that killed a Greek monk, a car bomb attack and an attack in a Tel Aviv restaurant that killed several others. Yet JVP continues to heroize and laud Barghouti as a respected “leader” akin to South African leader Nelson Mandela.
In fact, JVP encourages Palestinian attempts to murder Israelis as legitimate “resistance” against Zionist Jews. To illustrate its support of anti-Israel violence, JVP tweeted a cartoon that depicted a partnership between a gun-toting woman in a kaffiyeh shaking the hand of a JVP activist, with the caption “Being Jewish is *not* the same as being zionist.” Justifying the cartoon, members insisted that it was JVP’s duty to “support the right to resist military occupation” to imply that a Palestinian “right” to slay Jewish civilians is somehow enshrined in international law.
During the 2015-16 Palestinian knife intifada, when Israeli civilians (including many children) were being stabbed and viciously assaulted in the streets on an almost a daily basis, JVP encouraged and celebrated the assailants and murderers, hailing them as “a new generation of Palestinians marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up en masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid….”
Nor is the murder of Jews outside Israel repudiated, if the perpetrator happens to be an Islamist. Following the 2015 hostage-taking and killing of French Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris by an Islamic terrorist, JVP refused to criticize the antisemitic attack, but instead put out a statement condemning those who allegedly used the attack as an excuse to spur an Islamophobic backlash against Muslims:
“Muslims are at greatly heightened risk from the forces of bigotry. This latest backlash occurs in the context of pervasive, systemic, and long-standing anti-Islam bigotry in many countries around the world…Already, in the United States, France, and Israel, the murders are being used cynically to advance the idea that there is a ‘war of civilizations’ between the West and Islam.. that, in the United States and elsewhere, is used to justify and buttress ongoing state surveillance of, and violence against, the Muslim community and other violations of human and civil rights.”
In the US, JVP partners with homegrown anti-Zionists, people like Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory, known as much for their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel activism as for their role as co-chairs of the Women’s March.
Women’s March founder Teresa Shook distanced herself from the three co-chairs, requesting they step down after their relationship with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and their refusal to condemn his anti-Semitic rhetoric came to light. In addition, other examples of the leaders’ anti-Semitism surfaced. Shook accused them of “steer[ing] the Movement away from its true course” and “allow[ing] anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform.”
JVP, on the other hand, refused to directly condemn Farrakhan. In sharp contrast to its fulsome condemnation of Israel and Israelis, JVP released a deliberately ambiguous statement, declaring:
“…We at JVP are taking the opportunity of this moment to listen, learn and reflect. We understand that these discussions [about denouncing Farrakhan] have to be rooted in ongoing conversations and relationships based on mutual commitment and shared visions of justice for all people, not just public statements and demands. We are working to build JVP as an organization that can have this conversation in an authentic way, rooted in lived experiences, and we know we aren’t there yet.”
On the other hand, JVP had no hesitation about lashing out at those who criticized the women for standing by the anti-Semite and ignoring his anti-Jewish hate rhetoric. The organization put out a statement dismissing valid criticism of the three co-chairs as “an attempt to undermine a powerful resistance movement that is taking on Trump and white supremacy.”
JVP also campaigns for politicians like U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar who has been criticized for her anti-Semitic statements by Republicans and Democratic colleagues alike. Their campaign rejects any charges of anti-Semitism against her.
JVP has also campaigned for journalists like Marc Lamont Hill, a BDS proponent and Farrakhan supporter who was fired by CNN after repeatedly justifying Palestinian terrorism and advocating a Palestinian state from the “river to the sea.”
But none of these alliances are quite as surprising as the organization’s association with white supremacists, when it suits them.
Former Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson – on two separate occasions – partnered with America Free Press, an anti-Semitic media outlet founded by a Holocaust denying, white supremacist (Willis Carto) to vilify Israel and support her anti-Zionist organization.
In 2010 and 2012 podcasts, she chatted with host Dave Gahary, a conspiracy theorist who obsessively demonizes the Jewish state and has in the past publicly referred to black people as “animals”. While the first broadcast apparently evaded much notice or pushback, JVP was called out after Vilkomerson’s second broadcast with the white supremacist media outlet. In response, JVP released a disclaimer stating the interview was obtained under false premises. In JVP’s press release, Vilkomerson expressed “heartsickness” that her interview somehow “ended up” on a white supremacist website. Of course, she made sure not to mention her previous 30-minute-anti-Israel screed on the same show with the same interviewer on the same media outlet less than two years earlier.
While JVP tries to cover up its association with white supremacists and Holocaust deniers, additional examples have nonetheless come to light.
David Collier, a London-based activist combating antisemitism, exposed the membership of JVP leaders and members in the ‘secret’ (participants must be invited and the page cannot be found on a regular Facebook search) Holocaust denying, antisemitic Facebook group, “Palestine Live” created in 2013 by anti-Zionist activist Elleanne Green.
Posters on the Facebook page have shared the notorious anti-Semitic hoax Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion; cartoons and articles denying the Holocaust; links to a “holocaust deprogramming course;” Holocaust denial by David Duke, the neo-Nazi, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and material from a wide variety of neo-Nazi, white supremacist sites like Rense, Stormfront, Daily Stormer and Whiteresister. Collier documented 64% of nearly 800 posts over two weeks that shared such hard-core antisemitic ideology and Holocaust denial.
Others from JVP also joined the secret group, including Board of Trustee members Phyllis Bennis, Beth Harris, Seth Morrison, Eran Efrati; academic council member Mark LeVine; and rabbinical council member David Mivasair, among others.
Through the secret group, they gained access to and affiliate themselves with historical revisionists, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and other antisemites willing to sign their pernicious petitions to protect antisemitism and against mainstream Jewish groups. (David Collier, March 2018 and 2019 reports – Antisemitism Inside Palestine Live, Parts I and II)
Other JVP members and groups and members go beyond fraternizing with Holocaust deniers.
The New York branch of JVP, for example, protested and disrupted a vote of the New York City Council at City Hall about commemorating the 70th liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2015.
In 2020, Rebecca Lewis, a JVP activist at Georgetown University engaged in outright Holocaust denial on a since-removed video clip by Now This, a progressive news outlet (Jan. 14, 2020) Comparing Nazi victim Anne Frank to those trying to cross the US border, she falsely suggested that Frank had not died in Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp, but of an unrelated illness.
JVP’s Campus Activities: Muzzling Alternate Viewpoints, Stifling Educational Opportunities and Intimidating Jewish Students
While JVP activists promote the lie that those who legislate against anti-Semitism are just trying to curb free speech, they are the actual ones trying to muzzle the free speech of anyone who disagrees with their positions.
In 2017, the NYU chapter of JVP tried to bar Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely from speaking at NYU.
They tried to prevent Israeli politician Tzipi Livni from speaking at Duke University (by hosting Livni, JVP insisted, the university would be “complicit in Israel’s ongoing project of ethnic cleansing”), and when they failed, they repeatedly disrupted her speech.
The group used the same tactics to disrupt a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference, shouting down US Vice President Pence and preventing him from speaking.
And when Chelsea Clinton joined a vigil at New York University for Muslims killed in an attack on a New Zealand mosque in 2018, she was accosted by the president and co-founder of the JVP chapter on campus, Rose Asaf – along with Leen Dweik, a crony from Students for Justice in Palestine. As Asaf filmed the confrontation, Dweik suggested Clinton had no right to attend the vigil and accused her of being a cause of the massacre because she had earlier urged “elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism” following an antisemitic tweet by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Rather than engage in civil discussion and debate, the tactic JVP student activists are taught is to muzzle and boycott those with whom they do not agree.
As co-founder and president of JVP at New York University, Rose Asaf became a divisive force on the NYU campus. She urged NYU students not to co-sponsor any events or collaborate with students from Jewish groups on campus whose views differ from those of JVP and succeeded in getting some 50 student groups to sign onto a BDS resolution that called not only for boycotting Israeli goods and academic institutions, but also for shunning and ostracizing other Jewish student groups supportive of Israel or which oppose BDS, ostracizing and marginalizing them for their beliefs.
JVP’s campaign against Birthright, a 25-year-old educational NGO that funds trips for young Jews to Israel, seeks to to attenuate the youths’ Jewish identity and ties to the Jewish state by undermining the organization’s efforts to connect young Jews with their heritage in the Holy Land.
Under the hashtag #ReturntheBirthright, the campaign urges young Jews to reject the opportunity for their own experiential learning in the land of their ancestors and to accept in its place the smears against the Jewish state that are fabricated by JVP. By attempting to keep young Jews ignorant about the facts on the ground and divorced from firsthand observation, JVP aims to indoctrinate them with its own radical, anti-Israel rhetoric.
NYU Israel Experience
Using the same modus operandi, JVP tried to thwart an educational intiative at NY shortly after it opened a chapter there. The educational program is meant to promote inclusiveness by bringing student leaders to Israel and providing them with the opportunity to engage with people on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to the Bronfman Center’s promotional literature, the goal of the program is to promote “intersectionality and inclusiveness” by
bring[ing] NYU student leaders together for on-campus seminars and a 10-day trip to Israel to interact meaningfully with Israeli society and history, exploring the many nuances and complexities of maintaining a Jewish and democratic state. The trip seeks to formally delve into the narratives of the people who live in Israel and Palestinian territories….
…The trip will take student leaders across Israel and Palestinian territories, exploring old and new communities, and engaging with prominent authors, activists, professors, and artists. Students will learn about the unique social, political, economic, and religious aspects of life in different regions, and engage with one another in thoughtful conversation about their experiences and viewpoints. The trip seeks to grapple more meaningfully with the tensions on the ground and deliberately engage across fundamental difference.
Were the goals of JVP to work in concert with other groups to promote “peace, social justice and human rights” as it maintains, it would applaud and support such a program. But JVP instead campaigns to thwart the educational initiative and prevent students from learning directly from people on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead, it dictates to students what and how to think about Israel by circulating an open letter that falsely and maliciously accuses the program of being “Islamophobic.”
CAMERA’s NYU fellow Bobby Miller described the group’s attempts to “stymie meaningful dialogue and target those who do not share its view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” as well as to “shame fellow Jews who do not share its opinions.”
Mostly, JVP partners with other anti-Semitic groups to put a Jewish stamp on their anti-Zionist events, using use Jewish to promote anti-Jewish campaigns in the name of Judaism and targeting the most vulnerable students with their own alternative narrative, preying on those who lack a strong knowledge of Jewish history and who are susceptible to the radical, anti-Israel rhetoric that is presented as a Jewish value.
Brainwashing America’s Youth: JVP Pushes BDS in U.S. Public Schools
Recently, JVP has begun to target a younger, more naive crowd still unfamiliar with the history of the Jewish state and the Arab-Israeli conflict with an insidious propaganda campaign targeting U.S. elementary schools. The purpose is to indoctrinate new adherents into JVP’s vicious creed. To that end, JVP has prepared its own deceitful curriculum about the Arab-Israeli conflict in materials it distributes under its “Facing the Nakba” campaign.
The following JVP propaganda made its way into a Charleston, SC sixth grade. It presents JVP’s alternate version of history in simplistic, cartoon-form that ends in a rallying cry to join the BDS campaign. The cartoon targets young children with the following messages through narration and animated stick figures:
- The Palestinians are the indigenous people who were displaced by Jews.
- The establishment of a Jewish state “massively destroyed” the lives of the indigenous people.
- The Arab invasion of the new State of Israel was a justified response to the unjust UN-proposed partition resolution that offered Jewish immigrants the majority of the land.
- During that war, Israel “erased over 400 Palestinian villages and towns” and “by the end of the fighting, Israel controlled over 78% of historic Palestine.”
- When Palestinians refugees “tried to return to their homes where the new state now stood, they were permanently barred by the Israeli government” while those who remained in Israel became “second class citizens” of the new state.
- “Israel was built on a blueprint of exclusion” and practices “institutional discrimination against non-Jews.”
- “The Israeli government wants maximum land and resources for Jews, but not for the Palestinians who live there.”
- “Jewish settlers dominate the natural resources…” Israel’s “unequal law” denies Palestinians even basic allocation of water while it allocates Jews enough water to luxuriate in swimming pools.
- Israel is an expansionist state, maintaining an “entirely unjust” occupation of Palestinian lands it conquered in 1967. “To maintain the occupation, Israel has demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and orchards, confiscated Palestinian land, bombed a captive Palestinian population in Gaza and punished resistance with raids, arrests and assassinations – all to gain maximum land while making life so difficult for Palestinians that they will either leave or be too afraid to resist.
Palestinian violence is presented and justified as follows:
10. “Palestinians have fought back. For decades, they tried to achieve national liberation through armed struggle.”
And peace negotiations are characterized thus:
11. “Over two decades of U.S.-backed peace talks have actually made things worse by helping Israel to continue the occupation….Peace talks are good when they’re real but not when they’re theater to cover up [Israel’s] land grab…The U.S. has been a terrible friend, enabling Israel’s destructive and self-destructive expansion on Palestinian land…”
Employing the propaganda technique of “bandwagoning,” the cartoon ends with an appeal to young children “to make a difference” by joining “a movement with hundreds of thousands of people just like you across the world” – the BDS campaign against the Jewish state.
In May 2019, a high school district in Illinois with a large Jewish population came under fire when it offered its teachers a biased, anti-Israel training course called “Teaching Palestine” that included JVP propaganda materials. After heavy protest, the district withdrew the course.
The above is just a sampling of the crude and dangerous tactics of an anti-Semitic hate group that masquerades as a Jewish peace organization. When journalists are derelict by not exposing the group’s malicious agenda, or worse yet, by cloaking them in deceptive language, the mountain of incriminating evidence must speak for itself.
While JVP has succeeded in planting a wedge in the Jewish community and nurturing the spread of antisemitism, it has been contained in places where strong-minded people have stood for truth and fairness and pushed back against insidious lies.