In recent months, Jewish Voice for Peace, the largest and most influential Jewish pro-BDS group in the United States, has taken increasingly radical positions and has employed questionable tactics in pursuit of its mission to diminish support for Israel. The following are some of ADL’s main concerns with the group’s ideology and tactics.
Harassing LGBTQ Groups
One of JVP’s longtime tactics has been to allege that Israel’s proud record of support for LGBTQ rights is merely a way of directing attention away from its mistreatment of Palestinians. Recently JVP has taken this tactic to the next level, targeting a pro-Israel LGBTQ youth group with harassment at the Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC on June 4. According to reports, JVP members disrupted the LGBTQ contingent, cutting their microphones and blocking them from marching. JVP also supported the expulsion of the Jewish group, A Wider Bridge, from the Chicago Dyke March on the grounds that they carried rainbow flags that resembled Israeli flags, stating after the incident that Zionism is the equivalent of supporting “racism and violence.”
Shutting Down Dialogue
Although JVP pays lip service to the importance of dialogue and discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in practice, JVP members have shouted down and interrupted campus speeches by guests whom they consider too Zionist.
Celebrating Palestinians Convicted of Terrorism
In its zeal to condemn Israel at every opportunity, JVP has celebrated figures who have been convicted of engaging in terrorism, including Rasmea Odeh and Marwan Barghouti.
JVP feted Odeh at its 2017 conference, describing her as “a feminist leader … [who has] survived decades of Israeli and U.S. government persecution and oppression.” In fact, Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli military court in 1970 for her membership in an illegal terrorist organization and for planting the explosives used in two 1969 Jerusalem bombings.
On June 2, JVP ran a paid advertisement in the Jewish newspaper The Forward, which featured an extended quote from Barghouti alleging that Israel has purposely inflicted suffering on Palestinians who are incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Bizarrely, JVP described Barghouti as the leader of a Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, omitting the fact that he is a terrorist convicted of murdering five Israelis.
Undermining U.S.-Israel Security Cooperation
JVP has ramped up efforts to break longstanding programs that allow members of the U.S. and Israeli police and defense communities to train together and share best practices for fighting terrorism. Under the project name “Deadly Exchange,” JVP asserts that joint training and exchange programs are responsible for rising levels of police brutality and racism against minorities in the U.S. because the American law enforcement are inculcated with disrespect for minorities and a cavalier attitude toward violence by their Israeli counterparts.
A recent promotional video from JVP implicitly blames U.S. Jewish organizations, who run many of the exchange programs, for rising levels of racism and violence in the U.S. The video demonizes both Israelis and American Jews and blames them for some of the worst problems in society.
Israel has strengths and weaknesses, things to teach and things to learn, like any country in the world. It is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israeli policies. But JVP’s single-minded desire to paint Israel as a source of racism and violence has led it far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel. JVP has also turned on American Jews who are not deemed supportive enough of JVP’s agenda.
JVP has always used its status as a Jewish organization to shield it and other anti-Israel groups from criticism and to impart a veneer of legitimacy to the BDS movement. Over time, it became more confrontational, protesting and disrupting office buildings belonging to U.S. Jewish institutions and organizations.
Now JVP has set itself outside even the broadest conception of American Jewry’s big tent, attacking the liberal bona fides of pro-Zionist American Jews and using language to describe American Jewish organizations that veers uncomfortably close to age-old anti-Semitic canards about Jews using their influence to undermine the societies of countries in which they live.
For additional ADL research on Jewish Voice for Peace, visit adl.org.