Jewish Voice for Peace's anti-Israel activity sinks to new low - opinion

This month, JVP endorsed violence, engaged in Holocaust exploitation that clearly is antisemitic according to the IHRA definition, and celebrated terrorism against Jews.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Michigan) speaks at a climate rally in Iowa in January. (photo credit: SCOTT MORGAN/REUTERS)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Michigan) speaks at a climate rally in Iowa in January.
(photo credit: SCOTT MORGAN/REUTERS)
The ironically titled American nonprofit “Jewish Voice for Peace” has achieved a new low in its obsessive anti-Israel efforts. The organization has a long track record of hard-line stances against the Jewish state, including support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the embrace of convicted terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh. Now, however, JVP seems to be taking things to even greater extremes. JVP’s actions prove unquestionably that the organization calling itself Jewish Voice for Peace is neither representative of Jews, nor of peace by any measure.
Along with other extremist organizations, JVP stirred up controversy this month with its choice of speakers for a panel on “dismantling antisemitism” that included the divisive Peter Beinart, BDS activist Barbara Ransby, and public figures Rashida Tlaib and Marc Lamont Hill, known for their own controversial antisemitic statements. Instead of bringing in leading scholars or experts on today’s antisemitism, or even a diversity of opinions, JVP invited exclusively fringe anti-Israel voices, most of whom are not even Jewish. Even the one exception, Peter Beinart, represents a very controversial opinion that is rejected by the majority of the Jewish community.
Understandably, the consensus Jewish community expressed outrage from Left to Right that some of today’s most prominent voices who have given legitimacy to antisemitism would be lecturing Jews about what is or isn’t antisemitism today.
Rashida Tlaib, the US congresswoman from Michigan with Palestinian roots, is notorious for her anti-Israel stance. She sparked uproar after her comments on the Holocaust in which she refused to mention Jews. Similarly, Marc Lamont Hill, a former CNN contributor, was fired from CNN after calling on air for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” commonly used to call for the eradication of the State of Israel.
Even if we assume that Tlaib and Hill made such outlandish comments from the place of ignorance and not malice, the idea that they should be lecturing anyone on what antisemitism is today is preposterous. Ignorance of antisemitism does not excuse it, and those who lack the nuance to see how their comments can be used as a tool to promote antisemitism should be condemned and rejected by the Jewish community, not given speaking gigs on a panel purporting to address the issue.
Yet taking a deeper dive into JVP’s agenda, it becomes all the more clear that the organization has nothing to do with being Jewish, or being peaceful. This month, JVP endorsed violence, engaged in Holocaust exploitation that clearly is antisemitic according to the widely accepted IHRA working definition of antisemitism, and celebrated terrorism against Jews.
In a post on its Facebook and Twitter accounts from December 8, the organization shared a poster stating “L’chaim Intifada” celebrating the anniversary of the first Palestinian Intifada in which 277 Israeli citizens were murdered in acts of Palestinian violence that primarily targeted civilians. The same photo also depicts Palestinian terrorists such as Leila Khaled, a PFLP terrorist who attempted multiple plane hijackings, as the modern-day equivalent of Jews who fought back against the Nazis.
While criticism and discussion of Israeli policy is an important action in society, JVP’s panels and incitement are a far cry from legitimate criticism or well-intended discussion. In fact, from the way the organization describes its own panel on antisemitism, it would appear as though it doesn’t even believe antisemitism exists today, but that it is used to “undermine progressive movements for justice.” The JVP website reads: “Antisemitism is used to manufacture division and fear.”
At a time of rising antisemitism globally, the last thing we need as a community are more organizations pretending to represent us. Groups like JVP attempt to whitewash or minimize antisemitism and all its threats today from the Left and Right, ultimately undermining our security and erasing our history. We must not let them go unanswered. JVP does not speak for peace, nor do they speak for the Jewish community.
The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC and a research fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute.