Read the full, comprehensive report: Profile: Jewish Voice for Peace (PDF).
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States. Despite the neutral tone of its name, JVP works to demonstrate Jewish opposition to the State of Israel and to steer public support away from the Jewish State.
JVP has assumed a particularly visible role in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which has become the most oft-used tactic by the domestic anti-Israel movement in recent years. JVP activists have worked to support a variety of divestment resolutions considered by university student governments and mainline churches, including the U.S. Presbyterian Church. The group also has an ongoing BDS initiative, “We Divest,” which targets TIAA-CREF, a major financial services organization.
JVP uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and to provide the movement with a veneer of legitimacy. On its website, JVP recognizes its role as such, noting that the group's Jewish nature gives it a “particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies” and the ability to distinguish “between real anti-Semitism and the cynical manipulation of that issue.”
The group has also started to invoke its Jewish identity more frequently in an attempt to directly confront the American Jewish community about its positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. JVP has issued statements addressed to the leaders of Jewish organizations, and most recently, different JVP chapters protested inside and outside of office buildings belonging to U.S. Jewish institutions and organizations.
JVP’s positions on BDS, its willingness to partner with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s right to exist, and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, demonstrate its hardline stance. In fact, JVP has consistently co-sponsored demonstrations to oppose Israeli military policy that have been marked by signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and slogans that voice support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. JVP has not condemned or sought to distance itself from these messages.
JVP also intentionally exploits Jewish culture and rituals to reassure its supporters that opposition to Israel does not contradict Jewish values, but that it is actually consistent with them. Their “Rabbinical Council” even published a Passover Haggadah in Spring of 2012 that dedicated one of the traditional cups of wine to BDS and added an olive to the Seder plate in honor of the Palestinian struggle.
In the past five years, JVP has significantly expanded, and now has 35 chapters across the country, including a handful on college campuses. JVP’s success in this area is aided by its embrace of online marketing tools and its strong presence on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The group has nearly 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 35,000 followers on Twitter. Not surprisingly, this increased support has translated into additional dollars for JVP. Until 2012, JVP had reportedly averaged approximately $300,000 in annual contributions, but in 2013, the group listed over $1 Million in annual contributions.