Occupy movement cannot be silent on Israel/Palestine, say 3 Jewish groups

on 21 Comments

This is a statement from Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Say No!

As Jewish-American organizations, we regret that right wing media outlets, organizations, and individuals have tried to undermine the Occupy Movement with unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism.

We have been particularly concerned to see the conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitism is an expression of bigotry while criticism of Israel, just like an anti-capitalist or an anti-war statement, is an expression of a political position. It is important to maintain this distinction between bigotry against an ethnic or religious group and criticism of a state or its policies and actions. The Occupy space has been a consistent venue for expressions of non-violent resistance to economic injustice and other forms of government oppression, including solidarity for the occupied people of Palestine. As Jewish-Americans who endorse the goals of OWS and are committed to the struggle for justice in Israel-Palestine, we believe it would be an egregious double standard to ask the Occupy movement, which has so admirably raised the call for justice and freedom around the world, to silence itself when it comes to Israel-Palestine. Instead, we seek to ensure that space is created at OWS to speak about Israel-Palestine when appropriate and that this space is a welcoming, safe space for all people.

Both prior to, and now within the Occupy movement, Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Say No! have worked to promote justice and peace in Israel-Palestine and greater understanding of all forms of oppression. There have indeed been criticisms issued of Israel’s domestic and foreign policy at Occupy Wall Street, linked to the larger protests against the costly war-mongering and corporate impunity that have bankrupted the US both financially and morally. These linkages include the way that the military-industrial complex hurts our economy domestically and engages in unnecessary and immoral wars while supporting the occupation of other peoples, including the Palestinians. Forging such connections is very much in keeping with the spirit of Occupy Wall Street. 

JVP-NY, JFREJ, and JSN! denounce the idea that open debate about Israeli policies or solidarity with Palestinians is a sign of anti-Semitism. We continue to be inspired by Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movements across the country and the world. We are committed to continuing our work together as part of these movements for justice and dignity.

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21 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 13, 2011, 11:19 am

    Excellent statement!

    Ideally, an OWS statement (or statement of exhortation to OWS) should be able to identify “media outlets, organizations, and individuals” as FROM from the 1%” rather than as “right-wing”, and the injustices and oppression in Palestine as BY the 1% and against the 99%.

    Unless “right-wing” is to be understood as automatically indicating “1%”.

    I think that is true. The oppression of Palestine has gone forward so fast in large part because of the suppression of international law by the USA (1%) on behalf of AIPAC, etc., (also 1%). The people of Gaza and West Bank and refugee camps around the middle east are easily 99%.

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 11:37 am

      i agree, JVP-NY, JFREJ, and JSN! Excellent statement!

      pabelmont, The oppression of Palestine has gone forward so fast in large part because of the suppression of international law by the USA (1%) on behalf of AIPAC, etc., (also 1%). The people of Gaza and West Bank and refugee camps around the middle east are easily 99%.

      yes, they are with the 99% for sure.

  2. Richard Witty
    November 13, 2011, 11:19 am

    Its not anti-semitism to criticize Israel.

    It is however a distraction from, and potential alienation from the Occupy and J14 themes of forming domestic common cause among people (not factions) about social/economic issues.

    We don’t need unnecessary divisions.

    • Bumblebye
      November 13, 2011, 11:54 am

      In the US, the I/P issue IS a domestic issue, since a portion of those within the 1% lobby massively for it to be funded and supported by the US government which is supposed to be answerable to its electorate. The vote has lost its power, now seemingly only an endorsement of one or another pre-approved products wholly owned (and obviously controlled) by the 1%.

    • Chaos4700
      November 13, 2011, 11:55 am

      Our “special relationship” with Israel is a domestic and economic issue. Case and point.

    • Citizen
      November 14, 2011, 6:17 am

      Witty is echoing the OccupyJudaism guy who also sees no connection between OWS protest against the unfairness of US 1% system (as graphed by recent report of CBO over 30 years) & US “special relationship” with Israel-it’s the same reason J14 refused to deal with the Palestinian issue. The OccupyJudaism guy has been at the forefront pushing OWS to put aside the I-P situation and its macro-relationship with US domestic and foreign policy. He has also been arguing within OWS that if the I-P situation & US relationship with it were made part of the movement’s targets, this would bring smears of anti-semitism from the right-wing Jewish/neocon establishment and cause the movement to be rejected by the American people, it’s goals diverted in the media. Here’s a glimpse: http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/3886-does-the-99-support-freedom-for-palestine-the-twitter-debate

  3. pabelmont
    November 13, 2011, 11:56 am

    RW: Who’s “we”? If J14 thinks that folding-in I/P would hurt it, let it exclude it. A sad thing, if so.

    But if OWS and other Occupy movements world-wide choose to take a wide view of oppression, and include I/P as part of the 1%/99% system of economic (and other) oppression, who are you (or anyone else) to challenge this as divisive?

    My take, FWIW, is that the world and even the people of the USA understand the oppressiveness of I/P just fine and discussion of it is suppressed in the USA by the action of the MSM which is part-and-parcel of the 1%. To say “down with 1% control of the 99%” is to say, inter alia, down with USA’s MSM’s suppression of free discussion of the facts of I/P and of discussion of proper (USA) policy for I/P.

  4. jayn0t
    November 13, 2011, 12:00 pm

    “Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Say No!”. How many of these groups are there? There’s some old joke about if you put two Jews in a room they come out with three opinions. Seriously, why do they form groups based on ethnicity? Because they’re oppressed or something?

    • tokyobk
      November 13, 2011, 2:17 pm

      They are groups that so not want Zionism or Israel to speak for them as Jews and/or that Judaism compels them to act on behalf of Palestinians, etc.. and they have the right to say so both within and without Judaism.

      I wish they could have included just one line: “We repudiate the individual cases where attendees at OWS and related events have promoted the idea of a worldwide banking conspiracy or that Jews as a group are to blame for recent economic woes.”

      Because there are such people at OWS. I have seen and heard them.

      • jayn0t
        November 13, 2011, 8:19 pm

        Following the example of Jewish Voice for Peace, I’d like to say that the Aryan Nations does not speak for me as a white European. I have been particularly concerned to see the conflation of anti-whiteism with criticism of Western civilization. I repudiate the individual cases where attendees at OWS and related events have promoted the idea of a worldwide banking conspiracy or that WASPs as a group are to blame for recent economic woes. Because there are such people in the left. I have seen and heard them.

      • tokyobk
        November 14, 2011, 1:13 am

        Sure, “pin the tail on the honky” is a boring and silly game, so I have no problem with your statement, were it issued genuinely and not as retort. Not as dangerous to WASPS as Jewish conspiracies have been to Jews, however. And noting correctly that criticizing Israel is not “antisemitism “does not mean that such a thing does nt exist, that there are cases of it at OWS (there have been) and moreover that some critics of Israel are anti Jewish.

      • jayn0t
        November 14, 2011, 9:32 am

        ‘Tokyobk’ – I was being sarcastic. You are right that anti-whiteism in the left is boring and silly and not dangerous. Conspiracy theories in the past have been dangerous to Jews. But a. some Jews have also believed inaccurate and negative ideas about other cultures, and b. this is modern America, not ancient Russia. Concern about anti-semitism today is just as ridiculous as concern about anti-whiteism, yet it is much more common, exploiting the inverted hierarchy of “who is the most oppressed”. The writings of ‘critical race theory’ illustrate clearly how this has the effect of weakening solidarity with the Palestinians.

  5. Les
    November 13, 2011, 1:04 pm

    To say that there should be open debate except for Israel/Palestine, is to discuss the cheshire cat while taking special care not to mention its grin.

  6. yourstruly
    November 13, 2011, 2:12 pm

    p/i is a domestic issue for more than economic considerations, since, as general david petreaus, among others, has stated, the settler entity’s intransigence vis-a-vis a peace accord with palestinians endangers u.s. troops in afghanistan as well as posing a national security risk. could it be that the reason these israel-firsters don’t consider the p/i conflict to be a domestic issue is because none of their loved ones are dying in afghanistan, what with most of the casualties coming from inner city & small town america? doubters of this might check the weekly defense department list of american soldiers killed in afghanistan. the most effective and sure way to end america’s loss of lives and drainage of its resources that results from the p/i conflict) is by severing the u.s-israel axis of evil, a task that occupy everywhere avoids only at the peril of losing its credibility as a movement for changing the world. can’t do that without bringing about a just and peaceful mideast, and there’s no doing that without first breaking the u.s-israel connection.

  7. Newclench
    November 13, 2011, 11:04 pm

    Good statement. Open debate, welcoming space for all, while educating and raising the issue. That’s the right approach.

  8. seafoid
    November 14, 2011, 7:27 am

    Palestine is only part of the issue. Israel is turning fascist.
    Very scary analysis by Gideon Levy. It ties in with the famous Danon interview



    “The West Bank will be annexed, but the Palestinians living there will not be. Left-wing organizations will be made illegal and their leaders arrested. The government will publish a blacklist of those with offensive views who will not be allowed to leave the country or speak to the foreign media. Only someone who murders Jews will be deemed a real murderer, and the statute books will be divided into two parts, one for Jews and one for non-Jews. The death penalty will only apply to Arabs.

    Special legislation will give settlers the right to take control of any land in the West Bank, and military censorship will ban any news item that could “harm the strength of the Israel Defense Forces.” The Supreme Court will only serve as a court of appeals and will not consider direct petitions on civil rights violations. Supreme Court justices will be selected by the Knesset and slots on the bench will be reserved for West Bank settlers, rabbis and members of the party in power. Only religious justices will be able to serve as chief justice. Rabbis will have legal immunity similar to what MKs have. Any declaration of war or a peace agreement will need the approval of the Council of Torah Sages.”

  9. Kathleen
    November 14, 2011, 8:33 am

    “Israel is turning fascist.”

    Is? In the beginning there were fascist leanings

    • seafoid
      November 14, 2011, 9:49 am

      They went with the lefties once they got the land. Histadrut, kibbutzim, etc.

  10. Kathleen
    November 14, 2011, 8:37 am

    It is great to witness these relatively new Jewish groups take a stand against the decades long brutality of the Israeli government and illegal Israeli settlers. Millions of non Jews and a small amount of Jews have been petitioning, calling, visiting their Reps in DC in groups and in their home districts for decades about this critical issue. So wonderful to witness the birth of these Jewish groups who are finally taking a stand

  11. Theo
    November 14, 2011, 9:53 am

    I have always said that nothing will change in Israel until a great number of american jews say NO and stop supporting that state!!!
    Those numbers must grow to hundreds of thousands so they demand attention both in Washington and Tel Aviv.

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