Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has come a long way in advocating for Palestinian rights. They now fully embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, seeing it as the most effective method to effect change. JVP is on Israel’s BDS Ban List and is described by another Jewish group in the US (the Anti-Defamation League — ADL) as “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States.”
In recent years, JVP has significantly expanded and now has many chapters across the US. Its concerns go to the heart of Jewish identity, Zionism, and Jewish institutional culture, topics Israel has long hijacked. Their boldest campaign to date has been the campaign to convince young US Jews not to participate in the Birthright trips Israel sponsors for Jews around the world.
This JVP campaign is very significant because it delegitimizes Israel as a Jewish state, as a birthright of Jews worldwide. It is also directed at a Jewish demographic that, by all accounts, is moving away from Israel’s hasbara and is likely open to transformative change.
Israel cannot survive as a Jewish state without a constant influx of Jews as immigrants to keep the Jewish majority it created by denying Palestinian right of return and blocking Palestinian aspirations to self-determination in their own homeland.
Today, thanks to BDS, we are no longer trapped in the language of “disputed territory” or dual “narratives”. It’s finally clear that the demise of the Jewish state is inevitable, leading to an exodus of Jews from Palestine. Israel’s end will come, as Henry Siegman, President of the U.S./Middle East Project, writes in The National Interest, from one of two scenarios, both of which will be fueled by the nature or character of the Jewish state itself.
“If after what undoubtedly would be a long and bitter anti-apartheid struggle Palestinians prevail, they will be in the clear majority. Having established the principle that the majority can impose on the minority the religious and cultural identity of the State, Israel will not be in a strong position to deny Palestinians that same right. That will lead in time to a significant exodus of Israel’s Jews.”
“If Palestinians do not prevail, then the undeniable apartheid character of the state and the cost of the ongoing struggle will lead to the same result — an exodus of Israel’s Jews over time, creating an even greater demographic imbalance between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations. Palestinians will not leave because they will have nowhere to go.”
JVP’s campaign to convince college-age American Jews not to participate in Israel’s Birthright trips amounts to telling them that Israel’s national identity and territorial claims in Palestine cannot be defined by their own American national identity disguised as corrupted Judaism.
This is a message worth conveying to Jews worldwide. Any Jew feeling the need or desire to emigrate from his or her country could do Palestinians a favor and boycott immigrating to Israel. To religious Jews, the message is, as Siegman says: “Most Jews did not make their lives in Jerusalem in the past two millenniums, even in times when they were able to do so. Instead they ascribed the yearned-for return to Jerusalem to eschatological time.”
The time has finally come for Zionist chains to be broken and for self-determination, dignity, and transformative justice for Palestinians to spring forth across synagogues, churches and mosques worldwide.
As Dr Gideon Polya eloquently put it in Palestinian Me Too: 140 Alphabetically-listed Zionist Crimes Expose Appalling Western Complicity & Hypocrisy :
“A peaceful , humane solution that would be of enormous benefit to all the world, to all the Jewish Israelis and to all the Indigenous Palestinians, would be a unitary state in Palestine with return of all refugees, zero tolerance for racism, equal rights for all, all human rights for all, one-person-one-vote, justice, goodwill, reconciliation, airport-level security, nuclear weapons removal, internationally-guaranteed national security initially based on the present armed forces, and untrammeled access for all citizens to all of the Holy Land. It can and should happen tomorrow.”
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.