A Jewish Voice For Peace
06 April 2016
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
Contrary to prevalent belief in some circles, there is a strong wave of
opposition by many American Jewish organizations as well as individuals to
Israel's apartheid policy against Palestinians. They reject the current
expansion through terrorism measures undertaken more intensely in recent times
using the targeting of Palestinian children with bullets to achieve that
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is an American national membership organization
inspired by rational Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality and
dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine. They have been increasing
alarmed at the escalation of violence directed against hapless Palestinians
and particularly when it has become obvious that Palestinian women and
children were the primary targets of scores of assaults by the IDF.
Ari Wohlfeiler, a deputy director in the JVP organization, was particularly
alarmed when AIPAC, the influential American Zionist lobby, began its 2016
Policy Conference with Donald Trump, the US presidential contender, as a
keynote speaker. Trump's bigotry enhances the grand designs of the current
Israeli leadership. Ari charges that AIPAC would then be off to ''visit every
member of Congress, pushing its legislative agenda,'' which would essentially
mean more illegal settlements and less chance for peace.
Ari says that ''AIPAC has peddled Islamophobic and racist stereotypes for
literally decades. It is fundamental to how they've built power and influence.
It's who they are. You probably know that many of Trump's most appalling
policy suggestions for the US are already law in Israel, celebrated and
protected fiercely by AIPAC. Israel already refuses to open its doors to
refugees – Syrian, Ethiopian or Palestinian; allows privileged immigration
status for one religious group over others; is building highly militarized
walls on all of its borders and has elected and re-elected a demagogue leader
who wins votes with blatant appeals to racism.''
He continues, ''Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism are not a byproduct of
AIPAC's policy agenda any more than they are a byproduct of Israeli policy.
And over and over, Jewish communal organizations have co-signed on that racism
by ignoring, or just plain silencing, criticism of AIPAC's demonization of
Muslims, Arabs and South Asians in order to secure unconditional US support
and military aid for Israel.
''But there are rays of hope. Even as some pro-Israel Jewish 'leaders' try to
muzzle them, intersectional movements are also rising – for black lives, for
economic justice, for Palestinians. From the halls of Chicago to the streets
of Phoenix, people are standing up and speaking out. And it is that power that
can beat back the dangerous slide that's happening in the US and Israel.''
Referring to the rising numbers of Americans who are tiring of Israeli
tactics, Ari contends that recent polls show that 47 percent of Democrats say
they think Israel is a racist state, and 49 percent support imposing economic
sanctions or other punitive measures against Israel's continued settlement
building. Less than one-third of American Jews believe Israel is a democracy.
Today JVP is fighting hard against AIPAC's agenda to make nonviolent advocacy
for Palestinians illegal because they know they are starting to lose. AIPAC's
racist dehumanization of Palestinians is falling outside the mainstream. The
simple idea that Palestinian human rights are human rights is taking root.
From churches, to major universities, to city councils, people are stepping up
against the racism in America and Israel.
Ari says that ''AIPAC has to legislate hate against Palestinians because the
rest of us aren't buying it anymore. So we have to keep working. AIPAC's power
derives in large part from its history of threatening and bullying
legislators, through a machine that extends from local school boards to the
It is time that peace-loving Arabs join hands with organizations such as JVP
and other peace-loving American Jews to promote the fading concept of peace in
the region between Israelis and Arabs. It is time to put old conflicts and
deep-rooted hatred to rest.
— The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena