University of Michigan Campus
On October 20 2010, two IDF soldiers came to the University of Michigan campus as part of a national PR campaign by Stand With Us aimed at justifying Israel’s recent atrocities in the Middle East. Students, staff, and community members collectively engaged in a silent walk-out in memory and in solidarity with all of the silenced Palestinian children that were killed by the IDF during Israel’s most recent offensive on the Gaza Strip who are unable to take a stand and give their account today.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is at it again. They just came up with a list of the top ten most influential anti-Israel Groups in America, and Jewish Voice for Peace makes the list. We appreciate the honor, except that the ADL–as usual–got a few things wrong in describing us.
TOP 5 THINGS ABOUT JVP THE ADL GOT FLATLY WRONG
(1) JVP IS NEITHER ANTI-ISRAEL NOR ANTI-ZIONIST.
We do not hold Zionism as a litmus test for membership. Some of our members are Zionists, some are anti-Zionists, and some are non-Zionists. We believe you can define yourself in any of these ways as long as you support an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank — including East Jerusalem — and Gaza, and you advocate for human rights, which naturally apply equally to Israelis and Palestinians.
We stand by Israelis that hold these views, such as Israeli conscientious objectors and Israeli actors refusing to play in illegal settlements in the West Bank.
We stand by Palestinians that hold these views, such as Palestinian activists protesting the Israeli confiscation of land in the West Bank town of Bil’in.
We stand by internationals that hold these views, such as students pressing for divestment from occupation and war crimes or activists trying to break the siege of Gaza.
What unites us is our belief in human rights and equality.
(2) WE DO NOT ‘USE’ OUR JEWISH IDENTITY TO PROTECT ANTI-SEMITES.
We are Jews and allies who strongly oppose anti-Jewish hatred, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism.
We do understand that as Jews we have a special role to play in bringing about a change in American and Israeli policy. Israel claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people. Some American Jewish organizations defend Israel right or wrong, claiming to be representing all American Jews. It is up to us to set the record straight.
We strongly reject the misleading accusations of anti-Semitism that the ADL and others have used in other to protect Israel’s policies. For example, when the ADL accuses Archbishop Desmond Tutu of anti-Semitism, it is not only wrong, but it also makes all Jews less safe when facing a real case of anti-Jewish hatred.
(3) ACKNOWLEDGING THE NAKBA IS NOT OPPOSING ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE.
Would the ADL call those that acknowledge the genocide of Native-Americans in this land anti-American?
We believe that in order to reach a just and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Nakba must be addressed. Without acknowledging the events of 1947-9, there will be no truth and reconciliation. JVP adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.” Israelis should acknowledge the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and negotiate a mutually agreed just solution based on principles established in international law, including return, compensation, and/or resettlement.
We acknowledge our own legacy of suffering and the horrors of the Holocaust, but we do not allow these to blind us to the suffering of others. Quite the opposite, we have learned from our own history and from our own tradition not to stand silent when others are suffering. The ADL, on the other hand, fights Holocaust-deniers and denies full recognition of the Armenian genocide at the same time.
(4) THE ADL IMPOSES ON PALESTINIANS A BURDEN IT DOES NOT IMPOSE ON ITSELF.
Jews in America constitute fewer than 2% of the population. We would be rightfully upset if we had to recognize the United States as a “Christian state.” And yet, he ADL expects Palestinians — 20% of Israel’s population — to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” The ADL apparently has learned little from Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”
(5) STARVING PALESTINIANS IS NOT OUR JUDAISM.
The ADL protests the fact that JVP members hold signs stating “Starving Palestinians Is Not My Judaism.” This one they got right, and they have the picture to prove it. Our question to the ADL is: what is your Judaism?