Under pressure, Jewish Voice for Peace re-embraces Miko Peled just days after accusing him of antisemitism
JVP unable to face up to the BDS Settler Colonial movement’s core problem.
I reported the other day how Israeli anti-Israel activist and BDS supporter Miko Peled was disinvited by a pro-Palestinian group at Princeton and denounced by Jewish Voice for Peace after a tweet characterizing Jews as having a “reputation 4being sleazy thieves,” Jewish Voice for Peace disavows BDS activist Miko Peled: “No place 4 antisemitism in our movement”.
Now the controversy has spread, with another cancellation by another anti-Israel group, Students for Justice in Palestine at San Diego State University. The event, Palestine 101, was scheduled for September 29:
SJP SDSU announced the cancellatoin in a Facebook post which reads in part:
As Students for Justice in Palestine at San Diego State University (SJP SDSU), we have decided to cancel the speaking engagement of our guest for our “Palestine 101” event this Thursday, September 29, 2016.
Our scheduled speaker, Miko Peled, had made offensive remarks on Twitter. After consulting with many Jewish and non-Jewish allies, they made it clear that the tweets were offensive. Although we believe that these comments are not reflective of Mr. Peled’s principles nor character, continuing to host the event without a resolution of this issue would not be appropriate.
SJP SDSU stands against all forms of racism and bigotry and it is because of our adherence to these values, that we believed it necessary to take action at this time.
The SJP SDSU cancellation took place after an article in the student newspaper, The Daily Aztec, criticized the invite after the “sleazy” tweet and other issues:
In the past year, Peled has tweeted that Israelis missed the “taste of Palestinian blood,” and compared Israel — the Jewish state — to Nazi Germany. He has advocated for continued missile attacks on Israel and Israelis and branded Israelis who serve in the IDF as “terrorists.”
His statement calling Israelis bloodthirsty regurgitates a centuries old anti-Semitic myth that accuses Jews of killing Christian babies for religious rituals. Worse, he justified his “sleazy thieves” accusation by saying that “for centuries Jews were portrayed as sleazy money lenders.”
Peled’s remarks and his upcoming visit have not gone unnoticed by Jewish students on campus.
“There is a line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism,” ISCOR junior Hilary Cohen said. “Peled has crossed that line. One can criticize Israel without using anti-Semitic rhetoric.”
Psychology junior Talia Raoufpur, who is Iranian and Jewish, said she was upset by the lack of attention his visit has garnered.
“Where are the activists who rose up against prejudice last semester?” she said.
Peled was not happy with the student article, saying on Twitter that the article was libelous and intimating he might take legal action:
Peled also is not taking well to the criticism by the leader of JVP, passing along a call to “purge” her from the anti-Zionist BDS movement:
The rallying around Peled appears to have pressured Vilkomerson to crumble. She posted on Facebook that she might have overreacted as to disavowing Peled completely. The posting provides in part:
This is a follow up on tweets last week about Miko Peled, which were in response to his comments on Twitter and the subsequent decision by the Princeton student group to cancel him.
We appreciate the varied feedback we’ve gotten from members and allies about this and I want to clarify our very brief tweets, where clearly there is very little room for nuance.
In retrospect, I think we overreached in how we responded and regret the impact it has had on Miko. We did not intend to imply that groups dedicated to justice for Palestinians should not host Miko again. We appreciate the role Miko plays in exposing Israeli injustice and helping to open peoples’ eyes to the reality of Israel and its policies toward Palestinians.
That being said we do feel that the language Miko used was reckless and inappropriate.
Threats of litigation and purges and Vilkomerson’s walk back notwithstanding, it appears Peled is becoming too toxic even for anti-Israel groups, who seek to preserve the claim they are merely anti-Zionist not antisemitic. An article in The Times of Israel by Petra Marquardt-Bigman (who occasionally has written for Legal Insurrection) provides more evidence campus groups will have to consider, Miko Peled’s big anti-Semitism problem.
Peled’s rhetoric reflects the inherent problem faced by BDS, which is a Settler Colonial Ideology.
Because BDS is a Settler Colonial Ideology which seeks alliances and to co-opt other movements through the concept of intersectionality, BDS of necessity singles out the Jewish Israeli as uniquely evil and the source of problems in the world. The distinction between Israelis and Jews quickly evaporates, as we witness in Europe where anti-Israel protests frequently use blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric and where Jews are attacked on the street in the name of anti-Zionism.
So, it is no surprise that while groups like JVP disavow anti-Semitism, BDS attracts both open Jew haters and those who traffic in negative Jewish stereotypes in the anti-Zionist cause….
The lesson in this story is not that Miko Peled’s appearance at Princeton was cancelled, or even that his rhetoric caused JVP to disavow him. Peled is a symptom of a greater problem.
The problem is the gross demonization and dehumanization of Israelis by the BDS movement, which has consequences. One cannot engage in the hyperbole and slander that accompanies BDS, such as accusations of Israel organ harvesting, without both stoking anti-Semitism and attracting open and more subtle anti-Semites.
In order to truly purge its ranks of anti-Semitism, BDS would have to change its Settler Colonial ideology, and stop treating the Jew as the link to all evil in the world.
[Featured Image: Miko Peled Twitter]