There’s been a lot of talk about Jewish Voice for Peace’s growing attraction, fed by the horrors of Gaza and its poetical Gaza Names project, and Dan Sisken has documented the trend in the above graph of website visits. JVP goes from a fraction of AIPAC’s visits and then more than doubles them. And J Street too. JVP was behind J Street; not any more. (Though if you combine J Street and AIPAC– hmmm). Also the US Campaign to End the Occupation is right behind those big establishment Jewish orgs. Good work. Says Sisken:
JVP has vaulted over AIPAC and JStreet, which have only shown modest bumps in comparison and the US Campaign has increased their visitors 6 times. The numbers are estimated visits to each site. Source is similarweb.org
There are many other pro-Israel sites that should perhaps be added for a fuller picture… On a negative note, the IDF Blog has also jumped considerably: up to around 4.5 million visits this month. So, no need to go to AIPAC, when you can go right to the source.
I’d point out that AIPAC and J Street are increasingly indistinguishable. AIPAC is trying to recruit “progressive” rabbis on its recent Israel tour, and J Street is supporting the Gaza slaughter, giving Jews who don’t like massacres the need to decamp to an organization that speaks out. J Street and AIPAC reach out chiefly to Jews. JVP, as the video below shows, is more avowedly diverse. Sarah Posner writes about this at Religion Dispatches: the “collapse of the American Jewish center.” You have to go right or left now; and left means a critique of Zionism while right means doubling down on militarism. J Street is on the right.
On July 11, J Street released a statement supporting Operation Protective Edge…
Some J Street supporters were appalled by J Street’s failure to marshal opposition to this newest Israeli military campaign. “Are we moving the community or are we becoming part of it?” one activist asked.
J Street, said [Northeastern Professor Dov] Waxman, “was a left-wing alternative to the groups in the center” when it launched in 2008, billing itself as a Washington-focused alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Now, he said, “J Street has to some extent become part of the mainstream.”
Shaul Magid, a rabbi, the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University, and a regular contributor to RD, served on the J Street rabbinical council before resigning over the organization’s refusal to support the 2011 Palestinian bid to upgrade its status at the United Nations. He told me that someone once joked to him, “Everyone in J Street is to the left of J Street.”
The activist added that “a growing conversation on campus is feeding the growth of #IfNotNow,” representing a “growing desire by young people to hold Jewish organizational leaders to account,” and expressing that “these people who claim to represent the Jewish community as a whole do not represent them.”
Posner is obviously more comfortable with #IfNotNow, this new non-Zionist group, than she is with JVP, which supports BDS. But as Cecilie Surasky of JVP says, movement is movement; and when Jews start to evolve on this issue, a lot of them will come into the JVP camp.
Here is some of Posner’s fingerwagging of JVP:
Jewish Voice for Peace, because of its rhetoric casting Israel as an aggressor, and because of its support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has largely been vilified by Jewish organizations as not representative of communal Jewish life.
The Anti-Defamation League has deemed the JVP “the leading Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States, working to steer public support away from Israel and convince the American public that opposition to the Jewish state is not anti-Semitic”—a move seen even by those liberals who find JVP too far left as yet another instance of ADL’s attempts to marginalize Jewish groups who refuse to toe the party line.
Naomi Dann, a media fellow with JVP, said that the organization has seen a large uptick in new supporters and formation of local chapters since Operation Protective Edge, noting that in three weeks 50,000 new people signed up for its email updates. She said the ADL characterization is “deeply disturbing to us,” adding “we are part of the Jewish community, our values are rooted in Jewish values.”…
The center, said Magid, “hasn’t done any creative thinking in the last six or seven years.”