Jewish Voice for Peace Featured Speakers List a “Who’s Who” of Israel haters
Is the group sponsoring this collection of speakers really a Jewish voice for peace?
“Jewish Voice for Peace” bills itself as a Jewish pro-peace organization.
But JVP is not a Jewish organization. At most it claims to support “Jewish traditions of social justice” as set forth on its 2016 listing of Core Values.
JVP also is not a pro-peace organization. As our extensive coverage over the years has demonstrated, JVP in reality is dedicated to delegitimizing Israel by providing an “as a Jew” cover for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and others who seek the destruction of Israel.
JVP encourages the use of so-called “intersectionality” to project a placement of Israel at the center of problems around the world, but particularly among non-whites in the United States. JVP thus seeks to racialize the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and to redirect racial tensions unrelated to Israel towards Israel precisely because Israel is a majority Jewish state.
In this manner, JVP exploits and encourages traditional anti-Semitic themes of Jewish domination which remain the source of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, particularly in the Muslim world. JVP simultaneously tries to silence criticism of its efforts by branding those who criticize JVP’s actions or Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism as “Islamophobic.”
As many of our detailed posts show, JVP also tries to manipulate Jewish traditions to turn them against Israel, and has associated with people who engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric until such relationships become untenable for public relations:
- “Jewish Voice for Peace” Hijacks Chanukah for Anti-Israel Messaging
- Jewish Voice for Peace hijacks High Holidays for anti-Israel messaging
- Under pressure, Jewish Voice for Peace re-embraces Miko Peled just days after accusing him of antisemitism
- “Jews of Color Caucus” – Jewish Voice for Peace’s newest front group
- Anti-Israel activists hijack Passover, turn it into Palestinian liberation event
- Jewish Voice for Peace helps disrupt Israeli LGBTQ group Sabbath event
- Jewish Voice for Peace can’t seem to stay away from Alison Weir
- ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ defends anti-Israel Third Grade event
- Jewish Voice for Peace seeks to divide and conquer support for Israel
Despite the clear record of anti-Israel activism, JVP is trying to mainstream itself in the progressive Jewish community. Its coffers are growing, and it now has a budget over $3 million, which it uses to organize a myriad of anti-Israel activism.
That attempt at mainstreaming, however, is belied by the Featured Speakers list at JVP’s annual meeting, to be held from March 31-April 2, 2017, in Chicago. That Featured Speakers list is a veritable “Who’s Who” of Israel haters, some famous, others not so famous.
The list features several ‘superstars’ in the BDS movement, such as UC Berkeley gender theorist Judith Butler as well as convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmiah Odeh (see LI coverage here), as well as recent media hero Linda Sarsour, who garnered national celebrity following her involvement with the National Women’s March (in which, Odeh was involved as well).
In addition to these speakers, JVP will be featuring a parade of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian speakers.
Notably, no representation of the more standard ‘pro-peace’ line of Israeli (or for that matter) Palestinian speakers will be present. Rather, the speakers, almost to a one, has a record of blaming Israel for racism and aggression (or ‘colonialism’), and, among those who have spoken out on the matter: all support a blame Israel approach that manifests itself in boycotts and hostility to everything Israel.
This piece will survey some of the Featured Speakers and their history of anti-Israel activism.
As you go through the list, ask yourselves, is the group sponsoring this collection of speakers really a Jewish voice for peace?
The Big Names
Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.
While Butler’s writings in gender theory are her main claim to fame (she infamously won the contest in bad writing by the journal Philosophy and Literature), she has provided something of a philosophical foundation for Jewish anti-Zionism and the end to Israel as a homeland for the Jews. At a 2006 teach in at Berkeley she remarked that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”
She has been a prominent supporter of BDS from its earliest days, and has endorsed the academic boycott of Israel. She is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of JVP.
Linda Sarsour is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder MPOWER Change. She has been involved in intersectional politics, campaigning against Stop and Frisk and for Muslim related issued in New York. She was involved in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and was a favorite of New York mayor Bill De Blasio.
Sarsour’s radical politics (e.g. support for BDS, hostility to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, alleged support for Sharia, her claim that Zionists are not welcome in the Feminist movement) have been the subject of much recent media scrutiny (see also LI coverage).
She has been involved with Dream Defenders and other Black Lives Matter affiliated organizations, helping turn them against Israel.
Rasmea Odeh is the most controversial speaker at the JVP meeting. Rasmea, who we have reported about more extensively than any other website, was convicted in 1970 in Israel for the 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
Rasmea supporters, including JVP, have defended Rasmea based on demonstrably false accusations, as set forth in Professor Jacobson’s Op-Ed in The Detroit News, Rasmea Odeh is no victim. These key posts of summarized the evidence showing Rasmea’s involvement in the supermarket bombing:
- Rasmea Odeh rightly convicted of Israeli supermarket bombing and U.S. immigration fraud
- Prosecutors seek testimony of Rasmea Odeh bombing co-conspirators
- Rasmea Odeh prosecutors: At new trial, we’ll prove Rasmea was a terrorist
- New VIDEO surfaces implicating Rasmea Odeh in deadly supermarket bombing
- Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now
Rasmieh recently accepted a plea deal in her immigration fraud case that will see her deported and lose her U.S. citizenship.
JVP has been one of Rasmea’s biggest backers, Jewish Voice for Peace’s long embrace of convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh.
The invitation has created controversy, particularly after Rasmea’s involvement in the March 8, 2017, International Women’s Strike and Day Without A Woman created widespread media attention. The JVP invite has been covered widely, including at Algemeiner, Jerusalem Post, Chicago Tribune, Daily Caller, Washington Free Beacon, and The Tower, among others. ADL also has commented on the invitation.
JVP is not only standing by its invitation to Rasmea, it is doubling down, expressing pride in having her take the stage. JVP would not allow, however, a memorial for the bombing victims, Jewish Voice for Peace blocks memorial for Rasmea Odeh victims
Robin D.G. Kelley
Kelley is Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History at UCLA. He is also an Advisory Board Member of US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Kelley, together with BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has called for “Global Intifada”.
He is one of the many proponents of the ‘Gaza is Ferguson’ canard.
Kelley calls Israel an “apartheid state”, a status, he claims, that is “beyond dispute”. While acknowledging that Martin Luther King sympathized with Israel, Kelley, condescendingly, takes the liberty to divine and prophesize what King’s intellectual evolution would have been like had he lived longer (to Israel’s detriment, obviously).
You may recall Oberlin Prof. Joy Karega, and her deranged anti-semitic memes and conspiracy theories on social media. When many, even among Israel haters, distanced themselves from her, Karega invoked Kelley as an ally and thanked him for his support.
Kelley tells of himself admiring the PLO as a college student and inviting them to campus in 1982. To be clear, this is not the PLO of the Oslo Accords and the Nobel Peace prize, of this Kelley says:
Although Oslo proved to be a disaster and a betrayal of the PLO’s founding principles, we saw the prospect of direct negotiations as a small step toward an elusive national liberation.
Yes, I said “national liberation.” Liberals wished for “Peace in the Middle East.” We radicals regarded the PLO as a vanguard in a global Third World struggle for self-determination traveling along a “non-capitalist road” to development. Palestine stood on the frontlines in a protracted battle against imperialism and “settler capitalism.” Palestinians weren’t victims – at least not in my political world. They were revolutionary combatants and, thus, models for those of us dedicated to Black liberation and socialism.
In 2015, he signed the “Black for Palestine” statement (see below), which foreshadowed the 2016 M4BL statement accusing Israel of “genocide”.
Ransby is Professor of History, African-American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies and Interim Vice Provost for Planning and Programs at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
She is involved in Black Lives Matter and in the Women’s March. Ransby made a name for herself writing about Anita Hill, during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and was one of the three organizers behind the NY Times ad “African Women in Defense of Ourselves”. She followed up with a suitably titled journal article “The Gang Rape of Anita Hill and the Assault Upon All Women of African Descent”
In 2014, Ransby signed a statement of solidarity with Gaza, by “women of color”. In 2015 she signed the “Black for Palestine” statement (see below), which foreshadowed the 2016 M4BL statement accusing Israel of “genocide”.
Ransby was a member of the “Indigenous and Women of Color” feminist delegation to “Palestine” in 2011, issuing BDS statement). She is a Board member of US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
She partook in an “Indigenous and Women of Color” feminist delegation to the Palestinian terroitories in 2011, which was followed by the issuing of a BDS statement.
She then gave a presentation on this trip in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the 2015 meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), of which she is now President. Readers of this blog will recall that the NWSA has joined the academic boycott of Israel (see coverage here). The groundwork for that boycott was laid at the 2015 Puerto Rico meeting.
Naber is a “scholar-activist” and is Associate Professor in Gender & Women’s Studies and Asian American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Naber has signed on to the BDS campaign as well as the aforementioned 2014 statement of solidarity with Gaza by “women of color”.
Naber has been at the forefront of the campaign to defend Rasmeah Odeh. She is on the Rasmeah Odeh Defense Committee, and appeared as a character witness for Odeh in one of her court appearances. In a piece in Jacobin, Naber claimed that the denial of bond to Odeh to none other than “misogynis[y] and heterosexis[m]
Prescod-Weinstein is a theoretical physicist, of mixed Afro-Caribbean and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, hailing herself as the “63rd Black American woman to earn a PhD in Physics”. She is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council.
While some of her research engages particle physics and cosmology, she claims a “a strong interest in feminist philosophies of science” and maintains a “Decolonising Science Reading List.” She has endorsed the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Esack, a veteran of anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, a Muslim “liberation theologian”, and Professor of Islamic Studies at University of Johannesburg, a school that BDS activists claim as the first university to officially implement academic boycott, by severing its ties with Ben Gurion University (For what it’s worth UJ denies this).
Esack is a board member of the South African branch of BDS
He has written recently, that complaints of anti-semitism are “ocassionally manifestations of white privilege”.
Aren’t protests about ‘anti-#Semitism’ occasionally manifestations of white privilege? #opinion by Farid Esack https://t.co/1iq1v4hQIf
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) February 28, 2017
Esack has created several controversies in Europe. He reportedly partook in a PFLP fundraiser in Germany and welcomed Leila Khaled. After the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks he said:
I am not praying for Paris; I am not condemning anyone. Why the hell should I? I had nothing to do with it. I am sickened by the perpetual expectations to condemn. I walk away from your sh—y racist and Islamophobic expectations that whenever your chickens come home to roost then I must feign horror.
This resulted in his being banned by several French venues (and here)
In 2013, he protested the granting of an honorary degree on President Obama. Esack made clear that his problem was not just with Obama but with US as a whole “The argument that the University of Johannesburg is merely honouring the person, and not US, is absurd,”
Ahmed is a New York City public defender (she works for Legal Aid in Staten Island) and is former former Vice President of the far left National Lawyers Guild.
She was formerly involved in various left wing or anti-Israel organizations such as: PETA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Al Haq, the Russell Tribunal, Badil. As well as Human Rights Watch.
In August 2016, Ahmad was turned away from Israel and not allowed entry due to her political activities.
She is a steering committee member for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (formerly the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation), a group so toxically anti-Israel that it could not find a single Congressman to sponsor it’s proposed panel discussion on Capitol Hill.
In 2014 she signed the statement of solidarity with Gaza by “women of color” (together with Butler and Ransby).
She campaigned against a trip by NY City council members blaming alleged racist practices by NYPD on Israeli training, and calling Israel a ‘racist apartheid state’
Butto is a “Human Rights Attorney”, a former legal advisor to the PLO, and former PLO negotiator, also affiliated with the Institute for Middle East Understanding (which promotes BDS).
She is well known for her media appearances on CNN, including a famous incident with Jake Tapper (covered here) in which she dismissed claims that Hamas officials were calling on Palestinians in Gaza to stay in their homes and act as human shields as ‘racist’, this after being informed that CNN has video in which this was stated.
Of course the two-state solution is dead. Israel killed it. We've been saying this for years. It's apartheid and we will press for equality.
— Diana Buttu (@dianabuttu) February 15, 2017
Butto has taken a hard line, blaming Israel for all failed negotiations. She has stated that negotiations with Israel are like negotiating with a gun to your head. She has denied that Hamas rockets have explosive heads and the ability to cause casualties and has been at the forefront of those calling for taking Israeli leaders to the Hague for ‘war crimes’.
Despite her past as negotiator, Buttu has been active in BDS circles, meeting with the Dream Defenders solidarity trip to Israel and Palestine.
Khalidi is the founder and Director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
Palestine legal is singularly focused on defending BDS, and has spread the canard of a ‘Palestine exception’ to free speech.
She is the daughter of famous anti-Israel Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi.
Khatib is a Palestinian lawyer, a board member of Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee and is a member of BDS national committee . Khatib was a leader of the weekly protests in the West Bank village of Bilin, that have become a rallying point for many foreign ‘solidarity activists’
Abudayyeh is Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network a member of the Palestine Solidarity Group of Chicago, and on the National Coordinating Committee of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USCPN).
In 2010 Abudayyeh’s offices were raided by the FBI. Those were the same raids that culminated in the discovery that Rasmea Odeh had concealed her terrorist past from the United States.
He is the spokesman for Rasmea Odeh Defense Committee.
He blames the US for the troubles of all third world peoples:
We have always tried to include a class analysis in our work around racism and the war, especially in offering an analysis of U.S. imperialism and its goals of hegemony over the Arab world and beyond. The same system that oppresses workers and poor people in this country has been doing the same in the Arab world, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, draining those regions’ natural and human resources to profit multi-national corporations and the American ruling class.
As for terror organizations:
“The U.S. and Israel will continue to describe Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations as ‘terrorists,’ but the real terrorists are the governments and military forces of the U.S. and Israel.
He recently penned a letter thanking Oscar Lopez Rivera upon his release “for your sacrifice, for your principles, and for your strength”. Endorsing his methods (and comparing them to Rasmea Odeh):
You have motivated us to fight unequivocally for our rights and the liberation of our people here and in the homeland, the way you always have. The leaders of your defense campaign have taught us how to defend our own prisoners–like Rasmea Odeh–and advocate and organize for her freedom and others’. Your call for self-determination, an end to colonialism, and full and complete independence for Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people has inspired us to call for the same in Palestine and the rest of the Arab World.
In a recent interview, he had the following to say:
Israel is a racist state, and so it must be dismantled like Apartheid South Africa was. If this happens, and if Palestinian refugees are able to return to their homes and lands inside historic Palestine, and if the military occupation is defeated and ended, then all the people can live together in one, single state.
This is the only solution, because Palestinian refugees will never give up their Right of Return, and Israel will eventually be forced to end its occupation and oppression of Palestinians in the 1948 territories, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Yazzie a self-identified Navajo, is a graduate student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She has made a name for herself protesting Navajo agricultural cooperation with Israel, protesting Navajo Nation Ben Shelly in this regard, calling it “red-washing”.
Yazzie is Co Founder,with Nick Estes (see below), of “Red Nation” “a coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students and community organizers advocating Native liberation”, which advocates, among other things, the abolition of Thanksgiving and demands:
the end to capitalism-colonialism on a global level. Native peoples, youth, poor and homeless, women, LGBTQ2 and nonhuman relatives experience extreme and regular forms of violence because the whole system relies on our death. Capitalism-colonialism means death for Native peoples. For Native peoples to live, capitalism and colonialism must die
This involves tying native struggles to Palestinian narratives, and linking it to the struggle at Standing Rock (JVP’s newest project).
Estes, a “Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, a co-founder of The Red Nation, and a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico”. He is Co Founder,with Melanie Yazzie, of “Red Nation,” a coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students and community organizers advocating Native liberation.
In an interview from 2016 he claims:
I didn’t get involved because I felt bad for Palestinians, but because I read about Leila Khaled and Edward Said and I was very moved by what they had done and the struggles of their people. I read the histories and they empowered me. I’m not sure that injury is really an appropriate way to get into politics, or into struggles. I believe in the Palestine struggle, not Palestinian victimhood.
Fort is an activist preacher, described in 2014 as the “24 year old minister at the heart of Ferguson”. He is a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary and is a Ph.D student in Religion and African American studies at Princeton.
Fort was a member of Dream Defenders delegation to Palestine
He was quoted saying:
Zionism has become a euphemism for conquest and colonization and removal, that is, of Muslim land and its people. And thus, Zionism and Islamophobia share a symbiotic relationship. Islamophobia feeds Zionism and Zionism reinforcing Islamophobia”
He spoke at an event entitled “Imprisoning Resistance” featuring PFLP hijaker Leila Khaled.
He also claims domestic terrorist Assata Shakur as an inspiration.
Kristian David Bailey
(see previous LI coverage here)
Bailey was involved in Palestinian activism at Stanford. He was arrested for his involvement for the shutting down the San Mateo-Hayward bridge in 2015.
Bailey was one of the organizers of the 2015 “Black for Palestine” statement, which features various black activists and intellectuals (including Barbara Ransby, Robin Kelley, Cornell West, Angela Davis) as well as former Black Panthers and “political prisoners” of various sorts.
The statement, which foreshadows the following year’s statement by the “Movement for Black Lives” (which accused Israel of “genocide”), refers to the “terror directed against us – from numerous attacks on Black life to Israel’s brutal war on Gaza.”
… we call on the US government to end economic and diplomatic aid to Israel. We wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and call on Black and US institutions and organizations to do the same. We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time.
He has referred, explicitly, to “All of historic Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza and Israel)” as “colonized land”.
He has written a gushing piece on fellow Stanford activist Fadi Quran (on whom more, below), as well as on Dream Defenders (also here).
Quran is former president of Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER) (the forerunner to Students for Justice in Palestine) at Stanford. Has featured at SJP events as a ‘civil disobedience’ speaker.
Back in the days when people still reveled about the ‘Arab Spring’, Quran was naively characterized by Joe Klein at Time Magazine as the “face of the new Middle East”,
Quran brought Kristian Davis Bailey into the fold of Palestinian activism, and co-launched the first divestment campaign at Stanford.
He is currently a senior campaigner for Avaaz, an activist’s and petitions website, which he has used for Palestinian activism.
Quran has called for a travel ban for Israeli commanders
Help hold Israeli commanders and soldiers accountable for killings in Palestine by calling for US and EU travel bans: http://t.co/EUHWvlKOE9
— Fadi Quran (@fadiquran) May 29, 2014
And trying Netanyahu for war crimes
If you want to see @IsraeliPM tried for war crimes sign this petition. For #Gaza: Please Sign & RT: https://t.co/A1t6wZN8qJ
— Fadi Quran (@fadiquran) August 2, 2014
Tell Abbas to take Netanyahu to court https://t.co/A1t6wZN8qJ #GazaUnderAttack
— Fadi Quran (@fadiquran) August 3, 2014
And to ban Israel from FIFA.
In 20011 Quran was arrested for protesting in Hebron, the arrest received great publicity. He is a fan of the first intifada, seems eager for there to be a third, but abjures the violent second one.
@ThirdIntifada Olive Revolution الطرق على أبواب القدس http://t.co/NSSZFQE via @youtube #Jerusalem #OliveRevolt #Palestine #Aug26
— Fadi Quran (@fadiquran) August 23, 2011
Abuata is Executive director of FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America), which is primarily involved in convincing churches to join BDS. See our extensive coverage:
- Sabeel – the anti-Israel Christian Activists You’ve Never Heard of
- Anti-Israel Conference Plots Next Divestment Attack: Municipalities
- Guide to How Anti-Israel Activists Hijack Christmas
- Anti-Israel church activist agenda unveiled at BDS conference – intersectionality and crowdsourcing
Bennis, a former deputy to former U.N. special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories Richard Falk (who was behind the recently shelved UN report accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’), and is currently affiliated with the far-left Institute for Policy Studies.
Bennis has written that a two state solution would be unjust: “creating a Palestinian state on only part of historic Palestine represents an historic injustice.”
She peddles cartoonishly simplistic views of Israeli society and characterizes it as an apartheid state. You can see her here introducing a panel with known anti-semites: Miko Peled and Max Blumenthal
Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.
In 2013, Vilkomerson was quoted at Stanford University identifying JVP as the “Jewish wing of the [Palestinian Solidarity] movement” and that JVP’s strategy is to create a “wedge” in the Jewish Community, sowing divisions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
As Executive Director, Vilkomerson is responsible for the full breadth of JVP activities described in the introduction to this post.
JVP’s Featured Speaker list is a window into what JVP really represents.
And what JVP really represents is not a Jewish voice for peace.
The author is a graduate student who must write under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty. Professor Jacobson contributed to this post.
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Amazing how these groups acknowledge the fact their goals are unpopular, by what names they use. “Jewish Voice for Peace” is something any normal American would endorse and they know it. The left is good at packaging IUDs.
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