Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’

Jewish Voice for Peace’s Commitment to Fighting Anti-Semitism

March 12, 2019

The Israel lobby smears also Jewish critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists as ‘anti-Semites’, often with a viciousness that exceeds the venom with which the lobby attacks its gentile opponents. Critics like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni and many, many others, are decried as ‘self-hating’ and subjected to abuse that would certainly be considered anti-Semitic if it came from non-Jews. They will have their Jewishness denied in coarsely racist terms. Jackie Walker was told that she couldn’t really be Jewish because she was Black, thus denying the existence of Black Jews from Ethiopia. Some of the remarks are particularly vile. Tony Greenstein was told by one affronted Jewish Zionist that they wished his family had died in the Holocaust.

But the vast majority of Jewish critics of Israel are anything but anti-Semitic or self-hating. Tony Greenstein is a veteran opponent of all forms of racism and Fascism, which includes Zionism. Jackie Walker is the daughter of a Black civil rights activist with some Jewish blood, and a Russian Jew, who met on a civil rights march. She is Jewish by faith and heritage, has a Jewish partner, and sends her daughter to a Jewish school. She herself has been an anti-racist activist, and opposes Zionism because it is a form of racism. Martin Odoni again is another critic of racism.

Jewish Voice for Peace is a pro-Palestinian organisation which genuinely works for peace with Israel’s indigenous Arabs, rather than masking their continuing persecution and dispossession with liberal statements about peace and democracy like the Israeli state. In the fifth clause of their mission statement, ‘Jewish Communities Centred around Justice’, they make it very clear that their stance on justice for the Palestinians is grounded in their Jewish identity. The passage reads

We are inspired by Jewish traditions to work for justice and such work is part of our own liberation. We work to build Jewish communities that reflect the understanding that being Jewish and Judaism are not synonymous with Zionism or support for Israel. Our work is part of a broader struggle and commitment to end racism, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry, and all forms of oppression.

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/mission/

They also make it very clear that they are also committed to fighting anti-Semitism in a piece from October last year, 2018. This came after a Jewish community centre in Virginia was defaced with swastikas and in the face of rising anti-Semitism and racism in Trump’s America. The passage ‘We Must Fight Anti-Semitism in All Its Forms’, runs

Two days ago, the Jewish community in Fairfax, Virginia woke up to find 19 swastikas defacing the local Jewish Community Center, the second time in 18 months that the center was defaced with antisemitic graffiti.

Incidents like this are deeply terrifying. They are less about the actual property damage, and more about the symbolic message – that Jewish people are not wanted, that we should fear for our safety, and that white supremacists in the United States are becoming more open, more empowered, and more visible.

What is also deeply concerning is that rather than believe that antisemitism is relegated to the fringes of our society, we see the highest echelons of the government trafficking in antisemitic conspiracy theories. Just this last week Donald Trump claimed that the impassioned protesters outside the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were hired by George Soros, repeating a popular right-wing conspiracy theory that sees Jewish money behind leftist movements – a claim that Nazis in upstate New York repeated just today.

Antisemitism operates through symbols and tropes, and seeing them repeated by those in power is dangerous and wrong. We send out love to those impacted by the vandalism, conspiracy theories, and hate and stand against antisemitism whenever it occurs. Only together can we fight for a better world for all of us.

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/we-must-fight-antisemitism-in-all-its-forms/

The organisation is obviously Jewish-based and led, but it is also open to non-Jews. And although it is primarily an American organisation, it also accepts for foreign members. And it makes the point that anti-Zionism is most definitely not to be conflated with anti-Semitism.

For more information about the organisation, go to:

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/mission/

Jewish Voice for Peace and organisations like it, as well as doing tremendous work in solidarity with the Palestinians, by their very existence refute the lie that Jewish opponents of Zionism must be self-hating anti-Semites. It is this truth that the Israel lobby fears, as increasing number of Jews, and particularly young people, are disgusted with Netanyahu’s viciously racist regime and are turning away from supporting Israel. It’s why one Israeli official said that they now had to turn to support from America’s Christian Zionists, rather than its Jews. It’s why the abuse and demonisation heaped on Jewish critics of Israel is so vicious. and the attempt to silence them so determined.

Neve Gordon on Netanyahu Scoring Own Goal in Embracing Anti-Semitic Zionists

November 27, 2016

Remember all those months ago when the Jewish Labour Movement and the Blairites in the Labour party had a collective feeding frenzy and went howling after ‘Red’ Ken, accusing him of being a terrible anti-Semite? Livingstone had committed the unutterable crime of trying to defend other members of the Labour party, falsely accused of anti-Semitism, by stating quite truthfully that Hitler had supported the Zionist movement.

This is quite true. Before embarking on the horrific ‘Final Solution’ the Nazis had as a way of creating a Judenrein Germany. The gave aid and support to people smugglers sending Jews covertly to Palestine, then under the British Mandate. And the Zionists themselves preferred Nazi persecution of their people, to tolerance and the patriotic Jewish groups fighting to stay in their homelands, like the Jewish ex-servicemen’s league in Germany. The Zionist leaders made monstrous pronouncements about preferring all of the Jews in Germany to suffer at the hands of the Nazis rather than half of them being saved if they found sanctuary in England, so long as some went to Israel.

All this is a matter of historic fact. You can find it in the history books, including those written by very pro-Zionist Jews. Yet it didn’t stop the cries of anti-Semitism, or John Mann doorstepping Livingstone to scream the accusation at him. And many histories of Fascism have pointed out that anti-Semites elsewhere, including Britain, were also Zionists through their determination to cleanse their countries of their Jewish population.

Behind all this raving Zionist hysteria is the determination of the Jewish lobby to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Israel is the Jewish state, and so, according to the Likudniks and the Israel lobby, any hostility to Israel can only be motivated by anti-Semitism. Even if the person criticising Israel is Jewish. Then they’re accused of self-hatred. And Jews and Gentiles alike have been accused of Jew-hatred, even when they are decent individuals without a racist, anti-Semitic bone in their bodies.

This was the reason Jackie Walker, the deputy chair of Momentum, was accused of anti-Semitism for her comments made at a day workshop in preparation for Holocaust Memorial Day. Walker had questioned the organisers’ definition of anti-Semitism, which explicitly conflated it with anti-Zionism. She also criticised it for the way it exclusively concentrated on the Holocaust, giving little, if any, mention of other genocides and crimes against humanity, such as slavery. Walker is half-Jewish herself, and her partner is Jewish. Her daughter attends a Jewish school. Her mother was a Black woman, deported from America for joining the Black American civil rights struggle. Her comments about Israel and the slave trade are part of a general debate amongst historians, scholars and anti-racist activists, including Jews. But that didn’t stop the Israel lobby demanding her head as a terrible anti-Semite.

Now it seems that Netanyahu and the other members of his Likud-led coalition cannot, by their own actions, accuse others of being anti-Semitic if they don’t equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, or even worse, remind the world that many anti-Semites were pro-Zionist. ‘Cause Netanyahu has now done the same himself. He has publicly embraced Trump’s cabinet, which includes two notorious anti-Semites, for the support Trump is going to give Israel.

Neve Gordon has written an excellent article about this in Friday’s Counterpunch.
It begins

In February, the Israeli prime minister praised the British government for introducing new guidelines prohibiting publicly funded bodies from boycotting Israeli products. ‘I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East,’ Netanyahu said.

‘Modern anti-Semitism,’ he went on, ‘not only attacks individual Jews, but attacks them collectively, and the slanders that were hurled over centuries against the Jewish people are now hurled against the Jewish state.’

Progressive voices such as Jewish Voice for Peace have tried for years to counter the insidious conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, but the identification may now be unravelling at last because of a forceful intervention from the right.

She then discusses Trump’s appointment of Steven Bannon and Jeff Sessions. Bannon was accused by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of putting anti-Semitic material on Breitbart, while Jeff Sessions is another White supremacist with a reputation for anti-Semitism. Sessions made distasteful joke sometime ago about thinking the KKK were all right, before he found out they smoked dope.

But now Netanyahu as embraced Trump, the hero of the racist, anti-Semitic Alt-Right. Netanyahu’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, happily sat next to Bannon last Sunday at a dinner organised by the Zionist Association of America. Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot and a member of the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, praised Bannon, stating

‘I have known Steve to be a passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel who felt so strongly about this that he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out.’

Neve Gordon’s article rightly concludes

Israel’s leaders and their right-wing Jewish allies in the United States, in other words, have no problem stomaching anti-Semitism so long as the anti-Semite supports Zionism. But if an anti-Semite can be a Zionist then anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same.

See http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/25/israels-new-friends/

This shows the amoral political utilitarianism and hypocrisy of the Israel lobby. With Netanyahu’s embrace of Trump and his foul cabinet, they no longer have any right whatsoever to accuse anyone of anti-Semitism simply because they criticise Israel and its decades of brutality towards the indigenous Palestinians. And they have just proved Livingstone to be right about Nazis supporting Zionism. They did during the Third Reich. And they’re doing so now, with the bland co-operation and blessing of the Likud.

Jewish Women’s Organisation Occupies Friends of IDF Headquarters in New York

October 9, 2016

I’ve blogged many times that, in contrast to what the Israel lobby would have everyone believe, criticism of Israel is not limited to gentiles. There are very many principled and very courageous Jews and Jewish organisations, who also speak out against Israel’s murderous dispossession of the Palestinians and their ethnic cleansing. Like the non-Jews, who criticise Israel, these people are also smeared as anti-Semitic. They are slandered as ‘self-hating’ and ‘not really Jews’. These attacks may turn into outright persecution in the case of some of the Israelis, who have attacked their country’s sordid history. Ilan Pappe, the author the book The Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians, was forced out of his post at one of the Israeli universities, and eventually forced to leave his homeland altogether due to the acute persecution he faced for showing up the atrocities the country had committed in its past. Dr Pappe now teaches, I believe, at the University of Exeter. Despite his forced exile, Dr Pappe certainly does not hate his former countrymen and women. In a talk he gave on YouTube, he said that Israelis were decent people, and described the success he had in explaining the iniquity that was being done in their name. He had opened his house to the public every Thursday night, so that people could come and hear for themselves what he believed. He stated that these gatherings, which were entirely informal, became packed with people from his home village.

Jewish Americans are also very active in opposing their country’s support for Israel’s brutality towards the Palestinians. These critics include Prof Norman Finkelstein, who is himself the son of Holocaust survivors, as well as many other less well known. Many of them were also moved to action by Israeli atrocities in Gaza. The clip below is a Democracy Now! report from two years ago – 2014 – on the occupation of the headquarters of the Friends of the Israeli Defence Force by a Jewish women’s organisation. It’s particularly moving as one of the ladies speaking is the daughter and granddaughter of women, who were fortunate enough to survive the Shoah.

Here’s the clip:

Democracy Now’s blurb for the piece on YouTube states

Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds — and in some cases thousands — around the world. On Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the New York City office of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a non-profit group that raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed, and demanded the organization stop its fundraising for the military attacking Gaza. Nine were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. We get a video report from the protest.