With “Deadly Exchange” Campaign, Jewish Voice for Peace moves from enabling to promoting antisemitism
JVP rolls out campaign to blame Israel and Jewish groups for U.S. policing problems in minority communities
In dozens of posts we’ve highlighted how the anti-Zionist, non-Jewish group “Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP) enables, legitimizes and mainstreams antisemitism by providing a seemingly Jewish cover for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and similar movements.
But JVP isn’t merely an enabler of antisemitism. JVP also itself is a producer of anti-Jewish animus.
In addition to its pro-boycott activities, JVP has been at the forefront of the effort to stoke racial tension and hatred of Jews through intersectionality theory in which Israel is portrayed as a global oppressor of minority communities and the source of problems that these groups face. The Jewish state thus serves the role in intersectionality theory that the Jews historically have served in international conspiracy theories, and JVP is at the forefront of trafficking and disseminating these antisemitic tropes.
Now, with a national program called “Deadly Exchange: Ending U.S.-Israel Police Exchanges, Reclaiming Safety”, JVP is explicitly stating what in the past it has stated implicitly: Jewish organizations are responsible for the killings of non-white minorities in the U.S. by police.
At issue is a new JVP accusation that five of the leading organizations of American Jewish life—the Anti-Defamation league (ADL), The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Taglit Birthright Israel—are deliberately conspiring to harm innocent Americans by helping to organize and fund training programs between U.S. and Israeli law enforcement officials.
According to JVP, these Jewish groups are supporting a series of “deadly exchanges” where American and Israeli security officials and experts “trade tips” and “share worst practices” that “extend discriminatory and repressive policing in both countries” that include fatal police shootings of African-Americans and the “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.
The campaign focuses on blaming Israel and its alleged mistreatment of Palestinians under ‘occupation’ for the “oppression of Muslims, the deportation of Mexicans, and the shooting of black people” in the U.S.—a ludicrous, unsubstantiated claim which, as we show below, has absolutely no basis in fact.
So through this campaign, which now includes a revamped page on its website and a new URL; a 3-minute slickly designed video that features prominently on its website and was uploaded to You Tube on June 28 (embed below); a 22-slide Google Slide presentation available for community organizers to download; and a range of materials (e.g., campaign stickers) to help activists spread the message, JVP is deliberately helping to stoke hatred against Jews by insinuating that Jewish organizations are as one researcher put it, a “hidden and moneyed force behind the degradation and manipulation of governments”.The remainder of this post is organized as follows:
- Introduction to JVP
- Spring 2017: JVP Rolls Out New Deadly Exchange Campaign
- Fact-checking JVP’s Deadly Exchange Campaign
- Researcher Andrew Bennett’s Takedown of JVP’s New Deadly Exchange Video
Introduction to JVP
JVP is not a Jewish group. Rather, it is a far left-wing “social justice” group that claims to be “inspired by the Jewish tradition” of social activism.
JVP presents itself as an organization committed to social justice, civil liberties, and human rights and to advancing these causes through non-violent methods. But as we’ve documented in dozens of posts, its tactics and affiliations tell a very different story. As the Executive Director of JVP Rebecca Wilkomerson has stated, JVP’s purpose is to drive a wedge between the American Jewish community and Israel.
The reality is that JVP’s leadership and activists promote and up-lift Palestinian killers of Jews, standing proudly in solidarity with heinous terrorists like the convicted PFLP supermarket bomber Rasmea Odeh and the mass-murdering prisoner Marwan Barghouti. JVP also frequently partners with extremist individuals and groups that demonize Israel and delegitimize Zionism, while propagating negative stereotypes of Jews.
JVP activists are always a visible presence in college campus anti-Israel boycott and divestment campaigns, at mainline church synods and conventions where anti-Israel resolutions are debated and voted on, and in progressive activist circles where Jews who connect and identify with Israel are ostracized and even bullied, harassed and defamed.
In these forum they’re invariably ready and willing to deflect allegations of antisemitism by standing up “as Jews” in support of their racist allies.
The most recent example: JVP rushing in to excuse the shameful bigotry of Chicago’s Dyke March activists who forced a group of queer Jewish women out of their parade last month because they felt “triggered” and “unsafe” by the fact that the women were carrying rainbow pride flags adorned with the Jewish Star of David, as highlighted in our post Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago Sides with “Dyke March” Anti-Semites.
Basically, the California-headquartered JVP tries to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the anti-Israel movement and its political war on Israel by working to “Jew-wash” away racist stains from its antisemitic partners.
Constantly covering up for the anti-Jewish animus of others is more than enough reason for U.S. Jewish organizations to want nothing to do with JVP. But now it’s given them even more reason.
That’s because JVP is now publicly alleging that mainstay organizations of American Jewry are co-conspirators in some dark and evil mission to murder their fellow citizens, including African-Americans and other people of color and minorities, as well as immigrant groups.
JVP is making the outlandish and unsubstantiated claim that because various Jewish American organizations are helping to organize security and counterterror programs that make both Americans and Israelis safer, they’re somehow to blame for the problems of policing in America’s inner cities and for civil rights abuses that occur in the US.
Bottom line: In alleging a Jewish funding conspiracy and malevolence on the part of both the Jewish state and American-Jewish organizations that support it toward U.S. blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups, JVP has now “taken a step toward open antisemitism”. It’s no longer merely condoning or excusing classic antisemitic tropes about Jewish money and power but is now “openly producing” this propaganda.
As one astute reviewer of the Deadly Exchange campaign recently put it, JVP has now become “nothing other than an antisemitic organization”.
— Andrew Mark Bennett (@acandidworld) June 29, 2017
Spring 2017: JVP Rolls Out New “Deadly Exchange” Campaign
JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign was introduced in early April with a series of seminars featuring guest speakers and workshops at JVP’s national conference in Chicago.
— Jewish Voice for Peace (@jvplive) April 1, 2017
— Anarcho-Zionist (@AnarchoZionist) April 2, 2017
Then, it featured prominently as a supplement to JVP’s 2017 Haggadah, as we highlighted in our post, Jewish Voice for Peace Passover Haggadah: “Next Year in al-Quds!”.
For a few months nothing more was heard about it.
But on June 4th, JVP activists wearing red T-shirts with “Deadly Exchange” emblazoned on them and unfurling campaign banners deliberately targeted an LGBT Jewish Zionist group proudly marching in New York City’s Celebrate Israel Parade, as we highlighted in our post Jewish Voice for Peace targeted at-risk LGBTQ contingent in Israel Day Parade:
— Hannah Simpson חנה הייה-לב סימפסון (@hannsimp) June 6, 2017
One of the signs that JVP activists held aloft contained the words “Israel Out of Palestine | Cops Out of NYC”, offering candid insight into what the Deadly Exchange campaign is all about:
In JVP’s own documentation of the attack, the group brags about how 100 of their activists descended on the queer youth, tearing down their Pride banner and forcing an altercation with the police, during which a number of JVP activists were hauled off so that the parade could proceed.
— Jewish Voice for Peace (@jvplive) June 4, 2017
Fact-checking JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” Campaign
JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign centers on blaming Israel for individual shootings by U.S. police on the beat.
In fact, as we documented in a prior post this attack on Israeli-American police interaction is grossly misrepresented because 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.”
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”.
But there’s simply 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—not the “thousands” of officials that JVP claims to have traveled to Israel. Further, most of these law enforcement officials and officers have gone to Israel on programs 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 pretty much baseless.
The Jewish News Service reports:
criminal justice experts and organizers behind U.S. police exchange programs with Israel believe that these claims…are unsubstantiated and that it is vital to maintain cooperation with countries like Israel at a time when police officers are dealing with an increasing number of terrorism incidents.”
Bottom line: As we highlighted in our prior post, JVP’s Deadly Exchange 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.
Researcher Andrew Bennett’s Takedown of JVP’s New “Deadly Exchange” Video
Initially JVP’s condemnation of US-Israeli law enforcement and armed forces exchanges didn’t highlight the role of American-Jewish organizations in “running and funding” these programs as a prominent feature in its campaign.
For example, the five U.S. Jewish organizations heavily implicated in police violence in JVP’s new campaign materials were mentioned in the Haggadah supplement, but only at the end of the document, and without bold or italicized type, so it was easy to miss (disclosure: I missed it).
Best I could tell, this messaging targeting the American Jewish organizations didn’t surface at the JVP effort to disrupt the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade in early June (although in JVP’s press release about it, the ADL and JINSA are both mentioned as “Jewish organizations” that “run” a training program bringing NYPD officials to Israel).
It’s not clear who in JVP decided in the past few weeks to advance an ugly Jewish conspiracy theory as a central feature of the revamped campaign. But what is clear though is that very recently someone within JVP decided that it made sense to move the Deadly Exchange campaign in a more blatant direction of classic antisemitism.
The new messaging, which treats Jewish organizations with contempt and is designed to “hold them responsible for state violence”, is riddled throughout the new campaign material.
Now you can’t miss it.
Several slides in the new Google Slide show that activists are meant to download and use at teach-ins and community events, showcase the “moneyed Jewish conspiracy” behind alleged Islamophobic policing, an increase in deportation rates under the Trump administration, and high rates of minority imprisonment:
— JVP Chicago (@JVPChicago) June 27, 2017
But it’s a new campaign video that really rams home the accusation that “organizers” at U.S.-based Jewish institutions are making the “deadly exchanges” possible.
Here’s a slide from the video that emphasizes it:In a thorough analysis of the video that he posted last week, Berlin-based lawyer and doctoral candidate Andrew Bennett painstakingly documents how this “guilt-by-association” attack that “deadly” policing tactics in America’s inner cities are determined by Israeli military personnel is based on nothing more than
bare-faced insinuations, misrepresentations, and alleged causation that is so attenuated as to be laughable.”
Bennett’s article provides a detailed frame-by-frame takedown of this horrible video, and is well worth reading in full.
He points out that much of the short video’s montage includes images which the narrator insists are horrible “human rights abuses” (e.g., border walls, travel bans, surveillance technology, the use of tear gas) but that in reality aren’t especially “deadly” or egregious violations compared to what happens in many other countries.Bennett flags other evidence-free insinuations that “trap the casual viewer”, like the allegation that because the U.S. supplies Israel with tear gas (which Israel pays for with money that remains in the U.S.), Israel should somehow be held responsible for the tear gas used in Ferguson “which of course Israel had nothing to do with”.
He also notes the many omissions typical of JVP work:
- there are only ‘peaceful Palestinian protestors’, never any Palestinians hurling stones, Molotov cocktails, or burning tires on Israel’s streets and highways (see our prior post on how Israel has been compelled to change its rules of engagement for rock throwing in order to save innocent lives, “To shoot rock throwers, or not, that is the Israeli question”);
- Israeli surveillance of Palestinians and its security contracts with various U.S. high tech companies are “deadly” when in fact much of this technology has been put in place to help make it easier for Palestinians to pass through checkpoints, by speeding up the process and reducing the need for IDF interactions.
Then there’s the many outright lies.
Case in point: some of the nine companies that the film’s narrator lambasts as “U.S. companies” which “pitch in” to support Israeli surveillance of Palestinians are actually Israeli firms, or not even companies at all.
Bennett also notes that former Ferguson police chief Timothy Fitch attended a week-long ADL-sponsored counterterror training program in Israel in 2011 and retired in January 2014—six months before the shooting of Michael Brown which sparked the Ferguson protests. He then asks the logical question:
Does any intelligent person seriously think there is a significant causal connection there?”
— Andrew Mark Bennett (@acandidworld) July 2, 2017
And an image from July 27, 2015 is of a Black Lives Matter protest that didn’t happen in the U.S. but in Toronto:As Bennett quips, “Toronto is in Canada. Canada is not part of the United States or Israel.”
My favorite part of his article is where Bennett demonstrates how the filmmakers deliberately cropped an image, making sure that the Palestinian woman protesting Israel’s “deadly brutality” toward the Palestinian people at the Qalandiya checkpoint on March 7, 2015 wasn’t shown busy texting on her cellphone:
Bottom line: Bennett’s analysis of JVP’s new Deadly Exchange video is scathing and spot on. In fact, his critique that the video is based on shoddy and non-existent “facts” has now been substantiated by JVP itself. The group has included a request form on the campaign website for people to fill-in so that they can send information about how U.S. law enforcement swap tactics and learn tips from the Israeli military and police. So JVP has produced an entire campaign to slander Israel and defame Jews on the basis of research and data that it doesn’t yet have, but that it’s hoping that the public will now supply.
Why does Jewish Voice for Peace spend so much of its time embracing people openly committed to causing Jews harm and to cynically dismissing the efforts of Jews to defend themselves from their enemies?
Recently, I came across an essay published nearly a decade ago that may help to shed some light on this bizarre behavior, “The Jew Flu: The Strange Illness of Jewish anti-Semitism.”
In it, Manhattan-based writer Uzi Silber describes a strange “contagious but containable” malady that’s afflicted a small minority of Jews over the millennia. It’s an “ancient and resilient virus” which leaves its Jewish victims “emotionally twisted”, unable to come to the aid of their own people.
As Silber describes, Jews suffering from this illness present with a remarkably consistent set of symptoms: a tendency to depict everything the Jewish state does as “despicable and hateful” and to excuse and rationalize Arab and Muslim violence and antisemitism, and a propensity to identify, and even collaborate and ingratiate themselves, with individuals and groups committed to the Jewish people’s annihilation. So Jews infected with “Jew Flu” regularly engage in demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. They tend to single out the Jewish state for human rights abuses while ignoring other blatant human rights violators, including those who terrorize Jews.
It all epitomizes JVP perfectly.
Like other Jews who have come down with this sickness over the centuries, their “Rabbinical Council” isn’t contemptuous of Jewish religious observance. Quite to the contrary, JVP’s website is chock full of ways to embrace Jewish holidays and faith-based traditions while usurping them to vilify Israel as a violent outlaw state:
- Jewish Voice for Peace Passover Haggadah: “Next Year in al-Quds!”
- “Jewish Voice for Peace” Hijacks Chanukah for anti-Israel Messaging
- Jewish Voice for Peace hijacks High Holidays for anti-Israel messaging
As Silber wryly notes,
even tefilin wearing, kosher food eating Kiddush reciters can speak and write like anti-Semites.”
So maybe it’s this “Flu”—a condition in which, as Silber discusses, manifests as being more sensitive to the pain suffered by members of a group other than one’s own, and metastasizes into a malignant moral identification with people committed to one’s own destruction—which can account for why JVP has now begun to disseminate a set of materials for a national campaign which blames Israel and Jewish institutions in America for “deadly” police violence in the United States.
Like the videos and written documents that were produced for the campaign’s initial launch in April, the new materials are still focused on the ludicrous claim that counterterror training programs in Israel are somehow making Americans more racist and resulting in more “police brutalization of black and brown communities”.But JVP’s recently revamped Deadly Exchange campaign doesn’t just focus on inner city policing in America in order to demonize the Jewish state. It’s now also trying to stoke racial tensions between Jews and other minority groups in the U.S. by implying that “powerful, moneyed” American-Jewish organizations are behind discriminatory U.S. state practices and civil rights violations by law enforcement.
— Andrew Mark Bennett (@acandidworld) July 5, 2017
Bottom line: After a “long history of indulging anti-Semites”, JVP is now smearing Jews as malignant forces who work to subvert and undermine the health and well-being of other societal groups. There’s a name for people who do that. JVP can now proudly join their ranks.
[Feature Image: Jewish Voice for Peace Video | Deadly Exchange | You Tube screenshot]
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 @MiriamElmanDONATE
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