Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a non-Jewish organization that undermines the fight against, and enables, antisemitism by legitimizing and mainstreaming the anti-Israel movement’s assault on Jewish identity.

JVP presents itself as a social justice organization committed to non-violence and peace. But as we’ve documented in dozens of posts, its tactics and affiliations tell a different story.

JVP masquerades as merely devoted to ending Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank when what it really wants is to end Israel. Its leadership and activists frequently promote and partner with extremist individuals and groups that demonize the Jewish state and delegitimize Zionism, while trafficking in negative stereotypes of Jews.

Basically, JVP gives cover to the anti-Israel boycott movement (BDS) and its political war on Israel by washing away the stain of antisemitism central to the movement’s founding, actions, and identity.

As we’ve highlighted in recent posts, all of this has been shamefully on display by the group’s proud embrace of Rasmea Odeh, convicted in 1970 of the terrorist bombing of a supermarket killing two Jewish students. She recently agreed to plead guilty to immigration fraud charges, to be deported, and to be stripped of her U.S. citizenship.

Last weekend, Odeh—who has never expressed an ounce of remorse of her crimes—was honored with the opportunity to deliver a keynote address at JVP’s national conference in Chicago, where she wowed an adoring JVP crowd.

At its conference last week the organization introduced a new cockamamie campaign to shut down valuable and important counterterrorism training programs between U.S. police, ICE and FBI agents with their counterparts in Israel.

In a prior post, we documented how the attack on Israeli-American police interaction is grossly misrepresented in order to blame Israel for individual shootings by police on the beat. In fact, the exchanges are at high levels and are focused on counterterrorism, Exposed: Years-long effort to blame Israel for U.S. police shootings of blacks:

… there has been a multi-year effort by left-wing and Islamist anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and openly anti-Semitic activists to hijack racial tensions in the United States and redirect that anger towards Israel.

That effort has been on overdrive since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and is accomplished through a combination of false and misleading statements regarding the militarization of domestic U.S. police departments and U.S. police training in Israel.

The intellectual rubric is “intersectionality,” by which anti-Israel activists try to forge links with minority (particularly black) activists by holding out Israel as the key link to oppression around the globe….

The key is to understand that this is a long-term strategy to redirect and sometimes provoke racial tension against Israel and its supporters, not a series of isolated incidents.

…. this movement to blame Israel for minority deaths in the U.S. is not about Israeli training of police. There is no connection. Whatsoever.

Given JVP’s history of incitement, it is no surprise that JVP is now focusing on policing in order to demonize Israel and stoke racial tensions. Racializing the Israel-Palestinian dispute has been a prime focus of JVP, and includes the creation by JVP of a phony “Jews of Color” caucus.

JVP has merged its desire to hijack Jewish holidays and focus on racializing the conflict by creating a supplement to use at the Passover seder.

JVP’s 2017 Passover Materials

As we’ve noted in prior posts, JVP operates in multiple arenas to exploit Jewish culture and traditions, putting them into service for a vehemently anti-Israel propaganda campaign.

In its written materials and presentations, JVP reinforces that its anti-Israel positions are consistent with Jewish values. Toward this end, it appropriates the Jewish life cycle and religious holidays by inserting anti-Israel and anti-Zionist themes into these traditional celebratory and commemorative events:

This identity theft of Jewish heritage and narrative is particularly visible at Passover when the organization has promoted its own version of the Passover Haggadah (the Jewish text used during the Passover seder) and has staged outdoor “liberation seders” that hijack the holiday’s rituals for an anti-Israel narrative, as we highlighted in Anti-Israel activists hijack Passover, turn it into a Palestinian liberation event.

But this year, JVP is going beyond its noisy public “Passover actions” and the typical incorporation of anti-Israel messaging into its revamped Passover Haggadah.

Like its prior Haggadah released in 2012, 2015, and again last year, the 2017 version invites seder participants to view Israel as an evil oppressor.

It also seeks to foment anger against Israel at the seder table so that participants will be energized to want to punish the state and its people through BDS later on.

The newly-minted Haggadah though, and especially the supplemental material that have been produced to be recited along with it tomorrow night, appear in my mind to be even nastier than JVP’s previous Passover resources when it comes to delegitimizing the Jewish state.

Seder participants are not only told that Israel is a racist, apartheid state that deserves to be boycotted and sanctioned, as was the case in prior iterations of the JVP Haggadot.

They’re now also being instructed to view Israel as responsible for a lot of what’s wrong in America.

That is, the messaging isn’t just supposed to get Jews at the seder table to obsess about Israel’s alleged malevolence. It’s also meant to stir up virulently anti-Israel sentiment and “fierce righteous rage” among African Americans and other members of minority communities who may have also been invited to the seder.

(a)  The 2017 JVP Passover Haggadah: “Next Year in al-Quds!”

JVP’s new 14 page Haggadah has the explicit goal of replacing the story of Passover, with a narrative that denigrates the Jewish people’s attachment to Israel and the basic justness of that connection.

It’s an assault on Passover’s key message, striking at the core of the holiday as one of Jewish liberation, the preservation of Judaism and the yearning to reconstruct the Jewish homeland—in defiance of slavery, exile, oppression, genocide, and discrimination.

In our prior post, we highlighted some of the new rituals, passages, and songs that JVP’s Rabbinic Council saw fit to include in their versions of the Haggadah, all of them ramming home Israel’s imagined crimes:

  • third cup of wine dedicated to the BDS movement;
  • olive on the seder plate symbolizing the “Palestinian liberation struggle”;
  • “Nakba Dayenu” which rewrites the traditional song to focus on Israel’s decades-long vicious brutality towards the Palestinian people.

The revamped 2017 JVP Haggadah includes much of that, but there are more passages that delegitimize Israel.

Israel’s political leaders, for example, are repeatedly referred to as modern day Pharaohs who are “erasing people, stealing land, exploiting bodies.”

In the Maggid supplement for the seder, when the Passover story is meant to be told to the children seated at the table, JVP Rabbi Brant Rosen has written a profoundly reactionary passage that treats Israelis as foreigner usurpers of their own country:

“Your child will ask | Were we set free from the land of Egypt | that we might conquer and settle | a land inhabited by others?”

In the 2017 Haggadah, Israel and Zionism are also denigrated in the context of minority rights in the U.S. That’s because JVP explicitly dedicates its 2017 seders “to all of us, to our insistence on intersectionality.”

Intersectionality, as it’s advocated by JVP and other anti-Israel groups, is the radical, bigoted theory according to which all oppressed minorities are linked, with their grievances stemming from a white supremacist global power structure dominated by the U.S. and its Israeli ally.

Many of JVP’s embellished Haggadah passages or new inserts reflect this effort to link social oppressions, as in the section when the middle matzah is broken. Here, JVP rewrites the passage making it all about “systems of oppression.”

The revamped Dayenu song reproduced in part here is another example:

New this year, JVP has rewritten the closing passage, referring solely to the city’s Arabic name:

“Next Year in Jerusalem! Next Year in al-Quds! Next year in a City of Peace!”

(b) The 2017 JVP Passover Seder Supplement: “Deadly Exchanges”

JVP’s new campaign, unveiled and discussed during sessions and workshops at their national conference in Chicago last weeked, is “Deadly Exchanges: Ending US-Israel Police Exchanges, Reclaiming Safety.”

It features prominently as a supplement to JVP’s Haggadah (titled “Leaving Mitzrayim,” or in English, Leaving Egypt).

This latest project plans to target the “exchange programs” between American police forces and Israel’s military and security experts.

According to JVP’s deputy director Stephanie Fox, the exchanges enable the IDF to share its “worst practices” like “torture, surveillance and spying which is all brought to bear against Palestinians.” Having completed the training sessions, back home U.S. law enforcement officials adopt these practices to use against American “people of color”.

The problem is that there’s not a shred of evidence for any of this.

The reality, as noted by Prof. Mark Levine (a harsh critic of Israel), is that the history of militarized policing in the U.S. is complex and multifaceted—and has nothing to do with Israel.

To date, only a small fraction of U.S. police have been to Israel for any training (primarily related to counterterrorism and not policing with regard to other kinds of crime). So the notion that an American cop involved in a police shooting was trained in Israel, and that this training contributed to an unjustified shooting, is baseless.

In July of last year, Atlanta’s Mayor made headlines after publicly telling a group affiliated with Black Lives Matter that his city would continue to allow the Atlanta Police Department to train with Israel’s police:

As reported at the time by the Jewish News Service:

“criminal justice experts and organizers behind U.S. police exchange programs with Israel believe that these claims by BLM groups are unsubstantiated and that it is vital to maintain cooperation with countries like Israel at a time when police officers far dealing with an increasing number of terrorism incidents.”

Bottom line, as we highlighted in the prior post, Exposed: Years-long effort to blame Israel for U.S. police shootings, this new JVP campaign is an ugly attempt to hijack racial tensions in the U.S. and redirect hostility over it towards Israel. It’s not something new—in our post we documented how various anti-Israel leftist activists and groups have been trying for a long time to make the case that Israel is to blame for U.S. police shootings of blacks.

What’s new is JVP’s effort to usurp Passover with this preposterous claim.

Conclusion

The traditional seder and old-fashioned Haggadah aren’t really in need of any improvements or upgrades to make them more germane for current times because their central theme—irrational hatred against Jews—is sadly very relevant today.

[Traditional Passover Haggadah | credit: ElderofZion]

There is a real danger in JVP’s appropriations of the holiday’s traditions and values because they legitimize hostility toward Israel, embolden the enemies of the Jewish people, and ultimately have the potential to put fellow Jews at risk.

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Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman