Jewish Voice for Peace is a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel. JVP rejects the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragic dispute over land which has been perpetuated by a cycle of violence, fear, and distrust on both sides, in favor of the belief that Israeli policies and actions are motivated by deeply rooted Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism.
JVP considers supporters of Israel, or even critics of Israel who do not hew to JVP’s own extreme views, to be complicit in Israel’s purported acts of racist oppression of Palestinians. JVP leaders believe that expressing support for Israel, or not challenging mainstream Jewish organizations that support Israel, must also be viewed as an implicit attack on people of color and all marginalized groups in the United States. JVP’s energetic proselytizing of this view – especially among other social justice groups -- has created a hostile environment for many progressive Jews. In a sense, JVP is extending its boycott agenda to include not just Israel but its American supporters as well.
More troubling, JVP’s dissemination of the view that Israel and its U.S. supporters are fundamentally racist oppressors of non-Jews has the effect of perpetuating the classic anti-Jewish stereotype of Jews as self-centered elitists, disdainful of non-Jews, who are focused on their own interests, sometimes at others’ expense. Additionally, JVP’s ongoing insistence that virtually all criticism of Israel cannot be anti-Semitic gives cover to anti-Semites who couch their malice toward Jews as mere anti-Zionism.
Many of JVP’s Jewish activists say they are motivated by the age-old Jewish ideals of supporting the oppressed and making the world a better place. In the vast majority of cases, there is no reason to doubt their sincerity. But their fixation on what they consider Israel’s uniquely evil role in the contemporary world leaves them blinded to the damage they wreak on efforts to enhance intergroup relations, both in Israel/Palestine and in the United States. Their ideologically inflexible view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict leaves them unable to recognize the legitimate concerns of both parties, which can only make peace harder to attain.
JVP often links Israel to prominent social justice issues in the U.S. -- like police brutality – in an attempt to implicate Israel in violations or offenses committed here. For example, after the alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, JVP called Zionism akin to white supremacism and compared Richard Spencer’s white nationalism to Jewish nationalism. JVP’s so-called “Deadly Exchange” campaign seeks to blame Israel for police brutality on American streets. This strategy has allowed JVP to establish common ground with activist groups dealing with American social justice issues, while also demonizing Israel among new constituencies. But it has also distracted from advancing progress on underlying and important civil rights issues, such as police-community relations in the U.S.
All of these themes will be explored in greater detail in the following chapters of this report.