Thursday, April 26, 2012

Examining Jewish Voice for Peace. No ten foot pole needed.

JVP sign " Jewish community: Israel Demeans Your Religion" from Zombie

Can a Blog Supposedly Dedicated to Free Speech — But Supports Muzzling Its Opponents — Be Taken Seriously?

Our friends at "Engaging Zion" have written an excellent expose on the tactics of the anti-Zionist group, Jewish Voice for Peace, chronicling the actions of the group to stiffle dissent in the community.

Jewish Voice for Peace has a blog, MuzzleWatch (which incidently does not permit comments) With characteristic hypocrisy and hubris, JVP claims that Muzzlewatch tracks "efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy.” Stiffling open debate is JVP's raison d'être. After succeeding in shutting out Israeli LGBT voices in Seattle Stefanie Fox, Director of Grassroots Organizing Jewish Voice for Peace virtually chortled in a mass email "I will never forget the feeling of jumping up and down and shouting for joy outside Seattle City Hall."

Yep. Jewish Voice for peace is that kind of organization.

From Engaing Zion "Muzzle puzzle"

MuzzleWatch, a project of the Jewish Voice for Peace, states its mission as, “Tracking efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy.” With such a slogan one would expect the editors to be First Amendment purists. Yet, JVP recently (and again) gave a hollow ring to their stated values. Here is what happened.

Last month, JVP’s Seattle chapter participated in a successful effort to pressure the Seattle LGBT Commission, a sub-committee of the Seattle City Council, to cancel a planned program at Seattle City Hall that would have hosted a visiting delegation of Israeli LGBT activists. Here is the headline on the JVP website:

In part, the letter stated:

“LGBTQ Palestinians and Jews and their allies will deliver a thank you letter signed by 3461 people to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission in appreciation for the brave decision they made to cancel a meeting with a one-sided, government-sponsored propaganda tour of LGBT Israelis. Local activists took issue with the rightwing sponsorship and cooptation of LGBTQ issues to divert attention from Israel’s abuses of human rights and violations of international law.” (emphasis added)

The letter’s reductionist pigeon-holing language worked: Israeli LGBT civil rights activists were effectively muzzled in Seattle’s most public space, and JVP was quite proud of this achievement. (For further reading on what anti-Israel activists call “pinkwashing,” see Scott Piro’s critique of this accusation in his ‘Pinkwashing’ Deconstructed at the HuffPost Gay Voices site.)

Fortunately, the story didn’t end there. After the Greater Seattle Business Association, the largest LGBT chamber of commerce in the US, issued a statement expressing its “outrage” over the decision to “silence LGBT voices by cancelling the City Hall event with a delegation of Israeli LGBT civil rights leaders”, the Seattle LGBT Commission (to its belated credit) issued an apology that included this sharp rebuff to the organizers of the muzzling campaign:

“We also have heard from many who celebrate the cancellation of this event. We flatly reject the suggestion that there could be any joy or celebration in this outcome.”

Disrupting dissent is a time honored tradition at Jewish voice for Peace. Do read it all, here.

Jon at Divest this! sums up JVP nicely:

"You see, Jewish Voice for Peace (or JVP - an organization we have seen before) is committed first and foremost to being the Jewish face of the BDS movement. The trouble is, the Jewish Community (notably the Jewish Federations), in addition to running the Heroes campaign, have unanimously decided that BDS advocates are one of the few groups of people who have placed themselves outside of the “big tent.”

Now to most of us, the obvious answer is for JVP to continue to feel free to do what it wants (including advocating for BDS, for a cutoff of US aid to Israel, for interrupting Israelis at speaking events, and other things the wider community finds noxious) with an understand that in doing so they represent themselves and not the Jewish community as a whole. Ah, but you see JVP desperately wants to claim they represent more than a small minority. And thus they endlessly rail against Jewish organizations which they claim conspire to exclude them."


Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i've also heard how JVP whines about being excluded from having a booth at Israel in the Gardens every year. it's bad enough they let J street have one.

Dusty said...

Shlomo- J street believes in Israel as the state of the Jewish people. That makes them a Zionist organization and therefore welcome at Israel in the gardens.

Gary Fouse said...

The disruption of Netanyahu's speech in New Orleans comes to mind. In 2011, two of the folks from JVP who were involved came to UCI. One of them, Israeli anarchist, Matan Cohen called pro-Israel speech "
useless discourse". He also said that those who defend the Zionsist state should not feel comfortable on campus. I asked him who he thought he was coming to our country and telling us who had or didn'r have the right of free speech. To that Ms Roberts accused me of trying to take away Cohen's right of free speech. Talk about Alice in Wonderland.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i don't despise Jstreet the way i do JVP but they're not sufficiently pro-Israel enough for me. i would prefer they not be part of Israel in the Gardens but it's not up to me. their website blamed the first gaza terror flotilla incident 100% on Israel's blockaed. i know as much because i crossed referenced what they said in a issue of Jweekly at the time with what it said on Jstreet's web site and confronted them about it at the 2010 Israel in the Gardens festival.
Jstreet soft peddles palestinian terror too much and assigns blame to Israel too frequently. i felt that way even before i saw jeremy ben ami at berkeley last year and his speech didn't change that. at best jstreet has only one foot in the tent.