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Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace
Founded September 1996 (1996-09)
Founder Julia Caplan
Julie Iny
Rachel Eisner
Focus Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Key people
Rebecca Vilkomerson
$877 000 (2011)[1]
8 (2011)[1]
Website .org.jewishvoiceforpeacewww

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) (קול יהודי לשלום Kol Yehudi la-Shalom), founded in 1996, is a United States organization which describes itself as a "national Jewish organization" consisting of "a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights [to] support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination."[2][3] JVP seeks "an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem".[3]

Writing in the [4] In 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) identified JVP as one of the top 10 anti-Israel groups in the United States. The NGO Monitor's chief programs officer said JVP supports or has partnered with groups which label Israel a racist apartheid state, support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and, in some cases, support violence against Israelis.


  • Founding, staff, and advisory board 1
  • Positions 2
  • Activities 3
    • Muzzlewatch 3.1
    • Young, Jewish and Proud 3.2
    • The Only Democracy? 3.3
    • Selective divestment and BDS 3.4
    • Opposition to AIPAC 3.5
    • Opposition to Israeli settlements in West Bank 3.6
    • 2008–09 Israel–Gaza conflict 3.7
  • Reception 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Founding, staff, and advisory board

JVP was formed in September 1996.[5] Rebecca Vilkomerson is the executive director; there are seven other staff members.[6] Members of the advisory board include Tony Kushner, Michael Ratner, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Wallace Shawn.[7]


JVP opposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has published articles criticizing what it describes as the "severe human-rights violations that Israel engages in every day,"[8] such as the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and military operations in Gaza and the West Bank. It "endorses neither a one-state solution to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor a two-state solution."[9]

JVP supported the Free Gaza Movement until October 2012. At that point, JVP disassociated itself from the Movement after its founder, Greta Berlin, tweeted a link to an anti-Semitic video entitled "Zionists Ran the Holocaust and the Concentration Camps."[10][11]



In 2004, JVP published a collection of essays entitled Reframing Anti-Semitism: Alternative Jewish Perspectives. Among the topics it discussed were antisemitism and stereotypes of Jews in modern America. It argued that the Jewish left and critics of Israeli policy had ceded the fight against antisemitism to the Jewish right, and that critics of Israel or Israeli policies should not be accused of antisemitism.[12] In 2007, JVP launched MuzzleWatch, a blog dedicated to tracking and exposing allegations of what it considers intimidation and suppression of voices critical of certain Israeli policies.[13][14]

Young, Jewish and Proud

The Young Jewish Declaration is a project created by young JVP leaders.[15] Young Jewish and Proud debuted at the 2010 Jewish General Assembly when five of its members disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech.[16][17][18][19][20]

The Only Democracy?

In February 2010, JVP launched The Only Democracy?,[21] a blog that says it "questions the very notion of Israel as “the only democracy” in the Middle East, and puts a spotlight on the intensifying struggle for human rights largely ignored by the mainstream media."[22]

Selective divestment and BDS

According to its website, JVP supports "divestment from and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem... The boycott/divestment/sanctions movement (BDS) encompasses a variety of tactics and targets. JVP rejects the assertion that BDS is inherently anti-Semitic, and we encourage discussion both within our own community and outside of it of the growing BDS movement."[23] Gal Beckerman of The Forward wrote that it "is a group that has demonstrated a guerilla-like savvy in staging actions that get its message out to a broader national audience. In its use of BDS, for example, JVP has staked out a position distinct from those who target any and all entities related to Israel, which for many Jews implies a rejection of Israel’s very legitimacy. JVP instead targets only entities involved in one way or another with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank."[24] JVP's executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson stated: “We do feel connected to the global BDS movement. We consider ourselves a part of it."[25]

During 2004 and 2005, JVP protested against Caterpillar Inc. for selling bulldozers to Israel, and claimed that Israel's use of the D9 armoured bulldozers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was a violation of human rights and Caterpillar's business code of conduct. Along with four Christian groups, JVP introduced a shareholder resolution calling on Caterpillar to re-examine its sales of bulldozers to Israel. The resolution was rejected by 97 percent of the votes at the Caterpillar 2005 shareholders' meeting. JVP continued to introduce shareholder resolutions at Caterpillar shareholder meetings every year since 2005.[26] In 2010 the resolution received close to 27% of the vote.[27]

In June 2010, JVP launched a divestment campaign against the pension fund TIAA-CREF. The petition to divest reads, “We are participants and investors in TIAA-CREF funds who are deeply concerned that TIAA-CREF invests in many companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some of these companies provide weapons and covert surveillance supplies that maintain the occupation by force. Others take or exploit Palestinian resources, including scarce water and even the land itself. All are profiting from Israel’s violations of international law and international human rights standards.” The five companies targeted by the campaign are Caterpillar, Elbit, Veoila, Motorola, and Northrop Grumman.[28]

In September 2010, Israeli artists came to JVP asking for U.S. support to an artistic boycott of the theater in the city of Ariel, in the Israeli-occupied territories. JVP drafted a statement that was signed by over 150 theater and film professionals. On the significance of the action, JVP said, “This was the first time such mainstream figures had drawn a line around normalizing settlements which are illegal according to international law, and which constitute one of the main impediments to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”[29]

In June 2014, when the General Assembly of the [30]

On February 20, 2015, JVP published a statement moving from its former position of supporting selective divestment, to a full endorsement of the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until the Israeli government respects the rights of Palestinians.[31] Explaining the change in position on their website, JVP wrote:

JVP has long participated in the global movement to hold Israel accountable through nonviolent economic pressure, and we’ve done so by focusing on Occupation-specific targets including corporations as well as academic and cultural institutions. Today, the idea that there is a clear economic, political, or social separation between “Israel” and “the occupation,” has been widely discredited.[32]

Opposition to AIPAC

In 2006, JVP helped organize a demonstration outside a meeting of the Carter’s words, is certainly beyond the pale."[41] Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Education and Policy for JVP, responded by calling Rabbi Youdovin's line "arbitrary" and saying that "Youdovin misrepresents JVP’s position" concerning divestment. Plitnick emphasized that JVP supports "selective and targeted divestment that is aimed exclusively at the occupation, not at Israel itself." Plitnick wrote that "[m]ost Jews believe that there should be pressure on both Israelis and Palestinians to make peace" and that "JVP advocates nothing more or less than that."[42]

Writing in the [4]

In October 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) identified JVP as one of the top 10 anti-Israel groups in the United States.[43][44] In a September 2010 report, the ADL wrote:

While JVP's activists try to portray themselves as Jewish critics of Israel, their ideology is nothing but a complete rejection of Israel. In May 2008, for example, members of JVP protested many of the celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary that took place around the country, essentially illustrating that they oppose Israel's very existence.
The ADL also took issue with JVP's mission statement which it said "places the onus of resolving the conflict on Israel" and lists a long list of requirements for Israel. "In stark contrast to these detailed requirements, the only stipulation for Palestinians is the cessation of 'suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians,'" the report said.[45] JVP responded by saying the ADL was wrong about several key points—among them, that JVP is not anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.[46] JVP also invited its supporters to make financial contributions to JVP in honor of Abraham Foxman, the leader of the ADL.[47]

In February 2011, the New York Times published a piece on JVP activism in the Bay Area that said, “The activists say they are not working against Israel, but against Israeli government policies they believe are discriminatory.” In an Editor's Note, the Times later wrote that one of the article's two authors was a pro-Palestinian advocate and he should not have been allowed to write it.[48]

In March 2011, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The decision, said the group's e-board, was founded on Hillel International's guidelines for inclusion. Upon review of JVP's statement of mission, past and proposed events, Hillel leadership was quoted saying, “While we understand that JVP at Brandeis considers itself a pro-Israel club, based on positions and programming JVP has sponsored, we do not believe that JVP can be included under Hillel’s umbrella.”[49] In response, JVP formulated a petition in favor of its inclusion in the Hillel that over a third of the student body signed.[50]

Leonard Fein, in the The Forward wrote in regards to the tent of Jewish thought and opinion on March 31, 2011, “I remain quite uncomfortable with the notion that JVP should be barred from the communal tent.”[51]

In September 2011, Rabbi Doug Kahn, executive director of the [52]

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) removed Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of JVP, and Cecilie Surasky, deputy director of JVP, from its Jewish Community Heroes competition because JVP "is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting investment in Israel". Joe Berkofsky, JFNA managing director of communications added “our Israel Action Network is working to challenge the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement and other efforts to isolate and weaken the Jewish state. We cannot therefore support a group that seeks to harm Israel through its support for BDS."[53]

In July 2013, [54]

In 2014, Mark LeVine wrote that "Israel's recent assault on Gaza" had helped increase JVP's membership. Beside the Gaza conflict, LeVine wrote, the rise of JVP was "part of a generational shift in the very fabric of Jewish identity", in which "a growing number of Jewish activists now subscribe to the kind of struggles for fundamental rights that defined Jewish American culture in the civil rights era."[55]

Nadia Hijab wrote about JVP's March 2015 National Membership Meeting in The Nation. She described JVP as a "key player" in a "fast-growing US movement for Palestinian human rights and equality between Palestinians and Israelis". She wrote that J Street is "larger and better-funded" but JVP "is proving to be a real magnet for American Jews who are outraged by Israel’s policies and even more by [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s claim to be speaking in their name, and who want to take action".[56]

See also


  1. ^ a b 2011 IRS Form 990, Jewish Voice for Peace, 14 November 2012
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  38. ^ Rally marches for peace in Gaza Strip, Local activists call for ‘voices of reason,’Pete Wicklund, Journal Times, January 4, 2009 [1]
  39. ^ Hundreds march in Seattle to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza, Seattle Post Intelligencer, January 3, 2009 [2]
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  45. ^ Jewish Voice for Peace September 27, 2010
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External links

  • Official website
  • Is Peace Possible?, a 2011 paper Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Mitchell Plitnick & Henri Picciotto, One State or Two? A Jewish Voice for Peace position paper, Jewish Voice for Peace, January 2007
  • Eytan Bronstein, Position Paper on Posting Signs at the Sites of Demolished Palestinian Villages, Zochrot, October 2004
  • Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Selective Divestment, Jewish Voice for Peace, March 2008
  • Mitchell Plitnick & Cecilie Surasky, "A disservice to Jews, with best intentions", Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune, October 9, 2007
In February 2007, Rabbi Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, wrote a column in

On January 28, 2007, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) convened "Finding Our Voice", a conference co-sponsored by more than 50 Jewish organizations for the purpose of discussing the rise in antisemitism. Its co-sponsors represented a wide range of Jewish opinion, including the ADL and AIPAC on the right and Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish Labor Committee on the left. Tikkun and JVP were not invited to co-sponsor the conference. A spokesperson for JVP said, "From our perspective, you cannot get to the roots of anti-Semitism in the progressive movement without honestly addressing the severe human-rights violations that Israel engages in every day. Judging by the lineup, that kind of honest examination is not likely to happen at this conference."[8]

The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California wrote in 2003 that "the mainstream Jewish community" viewed "Jewish Voice for Peace as a group of radical Jews who air dirty laundry by criticizing Israel when the Jewish state is under attack. Some go as far as to label the members self-hating Jews."[40]


The JVP position on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict was that Israel's actions were "an opportunistic agenda for short-term political gain at an immense cost in Palestinian lives" which are "illegal and immoral and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms."[37] JVP joined marches and demonstrations condemning Israel in many cities, including Racine, Wisconsin,[38] and Seattle.[39]

2008–09 Israel–Gaza conflict

On February 25, 2007, JVP was one of twelve groups that sponsored a demonstration in New Jersey laws against discriminatory sales practices.[35][36]

Opposition to Israeli settlements in West Bank


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