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Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP): What You Need to Know

Jewish Voice for Peace

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UPDATE: October 25, 2023 

On October 7, 2023, the day Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and killed 1,400 Israelis, and kidnapped at least 203 people (including Americans), most of whom were civilians, JVP released a statement claiming that “the source of all this violence” was “Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression.” In interviews, JVP Executive Director Stefanie Fox and JVP Action Political Director Beth Miller both said that Israel was the “root cause” of the violence. Prominent JVP activist Ariel Koren said she believed Hamas’s actions were consistent with “Palestinians’ right to resist.”  

In the weeks following the invasion and brutal attacks on Israelis, JVP chapters have been active on social media and have sponsored or co-sponsored dozens of anti-Israel rallies across the United States. In several instances, JVP or attendees/speakers at its rallies have expressed explicit support for terror against Israel or even overt antisemitism: 

For example, JVP DC Metro shared a post on Instagram promoting Resistance News Network, a radical anti-Zionist English-language channel on Telegram and Instagram that promotes violence and terrorism against Israel. 

Additional incidents:  

Oct. 22: St Louis:  

  • Organizers routed a march to go by a synagogue. This is ostensibly an infringement on the right of Jewish people to pray without harassment and an implication that the Jewish community is responsible for Israel’s actions.  

Oct 12: Philadelphia, PA: From speakers at a rally cosponsored by JVP Philly:  

  • “Zionist biased coverage of Israel's Slaughter of over 1,000 Palestinians in the past six days by our local news and publication networks. . . this intentional media blackout on Palestinian resistance and our local media is a part of an organized effort to enable Zionist propaganda machine to dehumanize Palestinians and dispossess them of their land” 

  • “The Palestinians and all colonized and oppressed people have the right to armed self-defense” 

  • “The anticolonial armed resistance out of the Gaza Strip was provoked by decades of Israeli State sanctioned violence and to report it otherwise is false and misleading” 

Oct. 8: San Francisco: From speakers at a rally cosponsored by JVP Bay Area (with ANSWER Coalition, SJP UC Davis, SJP Sacramento State and the Party for Socialism and Liberation and others): 

  • “The resistance is liberating land that has been occupied for 75 years. The intifada lives and Palestine lives!” 

  • Signs included: “Decolonize is not a metaphor” and “resistance is not terrorism” 

 

  • Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activist group that advocates for the boycott of Israel and eradication of Zionism.
  • JVP does not represent the mainstream Jewish community, which it views as bigoted for its association with Israel. JVP’s staunch anti-Zionist positions place it squarely in opposition to mainstream American Jews and Jews worldwide, most of whom view a connection with Israel as an integral part of their social, cultural or religious Jewish identities. JVP promulgates the view that Jews who identify even tangentially with Israel are motivated by white supremacy, Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism.
  • The spread of JVP’s most inflammatory ideas can help give rise to antisemitism. Many left-wing groups have uncritically accepted JVP’s anti-Zionist claims, elevating their harsh rhetoric related to Israel and Zionism and furthering the widespread antisemitic vilification and ostracization of many American Jews who identify as Zionists. This has helped to create a hostile environment for Jews on many campuses and in many progressive spaces.
  • JVP alleges that law enforcement missions to Israel organized by Jewish groups help to perpetuate police brutality. Since 2017, JVP has claimed that Israel, alongside a few U.S.-based community and Jewish organizations, is responsible for “police brutality, especially against people of color, on American streets” because those organizations have facilitated periodic seminars between American and Israeli law enforcement officials. This “Deadly Exchange” narrative has metastasized within American progressive circles, with some implicating Zionism and Israel in the murder of George Floyd and the broader oppression of people of color in the United States. JVP’s willful misrepresentation of police exchanges injects extreme anti-Israel animus into important social justice movements, detracting from pressing civil rights work and often leading to the vilification of American Jews.
  • Approximately 12 JVP chapters are active on college campuses, where members often work closely with chapters of the anti-Israel student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to promote anti-Israel initiatives, messages and events.
  • In addition to JVP’s promotion of messaging that descends into the antisemitic vilification of “Zionists,” the group has expressed support for violence and, occasionally, classic antisemitic tropes. Some JVP members, leaders and chapters propagate rhetoric or sponsor events where participants express support for violence or terror against Israelis and vilify Zionist Jews. In a few instances, they have espoused blatant antisemitic tropes, including modern manifestations of the blood libel and allegations of Jewish dual loyalty to the countries in which they live.

Statements and Images That Invoke Classic Antisemitic Tropes

Occasionally, JVP activists or speakers at JVP events veer into classic antisemitic ideas and themes. In at least two instances, JVP or participants at a JVP-organized event propagated allegations related to the blood libel. In another instance, a JVP leader argued that genocidal sentiment towards non-Jews is embedded in Judaism, a claim that has also been made by hardcore antisemites.

  • National JVP, May 2022: A cartoon depicted Israeli soldiers joyously drinking the blood of dead Palestinians.
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know
  • May 11, 2022: A rally in Los Angeles co-hosted by JVP-LA, American Muslims for Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement and others featured a doctored photo of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a Jewish Star of David drawn on his forehead and blood dripping out of his open mouth, standing over the body of a bloodied Palestinian child. Text on the poster reads “Can’t Get Enough Save Palestinian Kids.” A separate section of the same banner depicted deceased Palestinian children with accompanying text, “The Zionists=Palestinian Children Killers.” Another banner featured the same doctored photo of Netanyahu, but with the additions of two swastikas on Netanyahu’s forehead and a mustache meant to represent that of Adolf Hitler.
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know

 

  • In a 2015 speech at Portland State University, former JVP Deputy Director Cecilie Surasky stated that the traditional Jewish doctrine that Jews must be a "light unto the nations" is "predicated on a system of racial and ethnic superiority," and should be interpreted as a divine justification for "ethnic cleansing, even genocide."

Expressions of Support for Violence/Terrorism

Some JVP activists and event participants have promoted violence and/or terrorism, as well as terrorist groups and figures, including terror organization Hamas and PFLP terrorists Leila Khaled and Rasmea Odeh. Others have minimized or justified terrorism, including by alleging that the idea of “civilian Israelis” is a “myth.”

  • May 2021: May 22: A speaker stated at a rally organized by the Philadelphia Free Palestine Coalition, which includes JVP, SJP and YDSA:
    •  
    • “We have to be willing to do anything for Palestine, not just in words. We have to be like our brothers, our soldiers of Gaza, our soldiers of the resistance. You have to start[sic] and when you start to understand those words you will start becoming less afraid of saying the H word, [Hamas] what is the H word? They are the only ones that’s fighting for Palestinians.”
  • April 2022: JVP Detroit claimed that there are no Israeli civilians, and all Israelis may be treated as soldiers on the battlefield:
    • "In the aftermath of any act of resistance carried out by Palestinians, many hasten to condemn the ‘barbaric’ act of killing ‘civilian’ settlers, in complete disregard of the systemic violence that ‘Israel’ commits against Palestinians on a daily basis, and in a blatant attempt to distort the truth that Palestinians are the only civilians to have ever existed in historical Palestine. Zionist settlers are either current or future soldiers in the IOF’s reserves or veterans."
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know
  • May 2021: JVP Knoxville posted a photo from a rally where a participant held a sign reading: “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.”
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know

 

  • January 2019: At a panel event at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, speaker Noss Petashnik, who was introduced as being affiliated with SJP and JVP, said:
    •  
    • “Women have been visible in armed resistance in Palestine. One woman I want to give special mention to is Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP]…I mention her specifically because I remember reading her biography and feeling inspired by her story.”
  • August 2017: JVP hosted and honored PFLP member Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in an Israeli court in 1970 for being involved in a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.

Statements/Actions Which Vilify Zionism and Zionists

Language espoused by JVP has attempted to sever Zionism and Zionists from any left-wing movements for social justice. JVP activists and rally-goers have compared Zionists to Nazis; equated Zionists with terrorists; alleged that one cannot be Zionist and anti-racist; and called for Hillel, the premier Jewish student organization in the U.S., to be “boycotted and isolated” due to its embrace of Zionism.

  • May 18, 2022: At a rally in Washington, D.C. co-sponsored by SJP, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and JVP-DC, an activist told the crowd:
    • “As Muslims, as Arabs, we condemn ISIS because they operate under the guise of Islam…Zionists are likewise fucking terrorists because they operate under the guise of Judaism. They’re not Jewish.” The crowd responded by chanting “Zionists are terrorists.”
  • May 15, 2022: At a rally in New York City hosted by JVP, AMP, PYM, Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College, NY4Palestine (a collection of groups in which John Jay College SJP is a member) and others, a protestor held a sign reading: “The Nazis are still around, they just call themselves Zionists now.”
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know
  • Rabbi David Mivasair, member of JVP’s Rabbinical Council, April 2022:
    • “Hillel has been occupied by Zionism. It was the ‘home for Jewish students on campus’.  But, no more. It has been captured by Zionist lobby and turned into propaganda tool.  It should be boycotted and isolated.”
  • April 2019: JVP at Portland State University sold t-shirts with inflammatory messages to promote an event with anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein. One shirt read:
    • “Israel is a garbage country that’s only loved by garbage people. It was founded on ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and settler-colonialism. Its flag is a symbol of white supremacy.” Another t-shirt proclaimed, “All Zionists are racists. Every single one.”
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know

 

  • November 2020: JVP Bay Area: “you cannot be anti-racist and Zionist."
Jewish Voice for Peace: What You Need To Know