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JVP offers bold universalist Hanukkah message in the wake of Gaza slaughter

Jewish Voice for Peace has published this incredible video for celebrating Hanukkah in the wake of the Gaza slaughter. Look at the bold messages of the members in this video. “Stand up to injustice… Hold Jewish institutions accountable.”  Imagine the new chapter this group is opening in the American Jewish experience.

Every bit of this video is about a renewal of Jewish universalist tradition, about facing up to the horrors of the occupation, a willingness to be accountable and to base Jewish freedom in the freedom of others. And justice. That means not just ending the occupation, but honoring the right of return of Palestinian refugees made homeless by the establishment of the Jewish state.

Screen shot: Jewish Voice for Peace - Chanukah 2014

Screen shot: Jewish Voice for Peace – Chanukah 2014

On this day, let it be noted, the New York Times slagged Jewish Voice for Peace as a marginal organization that threatens the dreamcastle Israel of liberal Zionists. And made out Boycott Divestment and Sanctions as some demon ideology. And cast the rightwing Ari Shavit as a liberal Zionist savior. Jason Horowitz wrote:

The idea of going back to campus, [liberal Zionist Ronit Zemel, 22] she told me, gave her “the worst feeling ever.” She felt besieged by pro-Palestinian groups advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions, or B.D.S., modeled after the boycott movement that helped end South African apartheid policies. “I’m more ashamed of Israel now,” she said. “But I am viewing it from a place of love and caring, and I know that they are not. So I’m very scared.” [Ari] Shavit expressed a similar concern. In November, he visited Temple Micah, and speaking as a “liberal to liberals” he worried about young American Jews losing their Jewish identity and drifting away from Israel.

Chief among the fears of liberal Zionists were groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, which in June helped provide a Jewish seal of approval for the Presbyterian Church to divest from companies seen as profiting from Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

JVP as a source of fear? Oh please. Americans need to get out of the bunkers.

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59 Responses

  1. jon s on December 18, 2014, 3:25 pm

    Ari Shavit is right-wing??
    This is from today:

    • seafoid on December 18, 2014, 3:33 pm

      Anyone who condones mass murder in Gaza is a right winger, Jon.
      Including you.

      • jon s on December 19, 2014, 1:36 am

        Anyone who sympathises with religious- fundamentalist terrorists is a right-winger.

        I’ve read Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Marcuse, Fidel and Che. Also Socialist-Zionists such as Borochov and Syrkin. The Left does not support religious fundamentalism.

        Where have I ever condoned mass murder? Your comment is a blood libel.

      • seafoid on December 19, 2014, 9:51 am

        The people of Gaza are not religious fundamentalist terrorists. They are just people who want to live in dignity.
        Big deal if you have read Marcuse. The proof is in what you do.
        And supporting the IDF in Gaza is right wing. Obviously you can be left wing in Israel if you read books but in the big world you’re just another weak soul who can’t stand up to state sponsored nihilism.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:11 am

        “Where have I ever condoned mass murder? Your comment is a blood libel.”

        A “blood libel”? Oy Gevalt!! Well, “Jons”, since you can’t get bud out of a turnip, I’ll top it: You smoke lousy weed!

      • seafoid on December 19, 2014, 11:25 am

        “Where have I ever condoned mass murder? Your comment is a blood libel. ”

        Mass murder of religious fundamentalist terrorists. those school bombings. and the hospitals . Or did the people just die by accident >? Was it all a terrible mistake ?

        “Blood libel” is rich coming from a Zionist. How many Gazans does the god YESHA need in sacrifice to make Israel prosperous ?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 12:05 pm

        “I’ve read Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Marcuse, Fidel and Che. Also Socialist-Zionists such as Borochov and Syrkin.”

        Bah! Are you up on your Terry Southern?

      • eljay on December 20, 2014, 11:13 am

        >> seafoid: Anyone who condones mass murder in Gaza is a right winger, Jon. Including you.
        >> jon seee: Where have I ever condoned mass murder? Your comment is a blood libel.

        Ummm…no it’s not.

        Blood libel:

        The “blood libel” refers to a centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder Christians – especially Christian children – to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzah (unleavened bread).

        hophmeee barks out the term “anti-Semitic” like a Tourette’s tic. “Blood libel” appears to be jon seee’s tic.

      • hophmi on December 20, 2014, 4:23 pm

        If the shoe fits… Sorry the truth hurts so much.

      • annie on December 20, 2014, 6:26 pm

        jon: “Where have I ever condoned mass murder? Your comment is a blood libel.”

        hops: “If the shoe fits… Sorry the truth hurts so much.”

        yeah jon, if the shoe fits… even hops agrees with us.


      • hophmi on December 20, 2014, 8:37 pm

        I was not responding to Jon S. I was responding to eljay.

      • eljay on December 21, 2014, 12:01 am

        That’s right, Annie. Painful though the truth may be (“Sorry the truth hurts so much”), hophmi accepts (“the shoe fits”) that he and jon s have strange verbal tics.

      • Mooser on December 22, 2014, 1:04 pm

        ” that he and jon s have strange verbal tics.”

        My personal favorite is the “jon s” ‘full sanctimony schtick‘. You give him the slightest chance, and he is peeing piousness over all and sundry.

    • annie on December 18, 2014, 4:33 pm

      jon, follow the embed from here:

      This piece touches on Nathan Thrall’s piece in the London Review of Books exploding Ari Shavit’s American celebration. Shavit was widely embraced by leading editors, liberal Zionist rabbis and the Jewish establishment as somehow revivifying Zionism. But Thrall shows that from defending the Gaza slaughter to opposing a withdrawal from the occupied territories, there is nothing liberal about his attitudes.

      – See more at:

      also, i thought i would point out in your haaretz article shavit’s primarily addresses and complains about the “zealots” and the “the extreme right”. then he makes a reference to “The nationalist bloc is still large, and the danger that a government of the right, the right and the right will be established is still real.”

      the “middle” in israel is still right wing, it’s not what we traditionally think of as left. not when 95% support and defend the gaza slaughter.

      • seafoid on December 18, 2014, 4:52 pm

        Shavit is a real left winger alright

        The starving are seemingly weak. They have no chance. They’re supposed to be deterred, scared of their neighbors, and refrain from bothering them. But because they’re fanatical, they act illogically. Because they’re economically desperate and strategically weak, they choose to challenge their complacent neighbors across the border.
        The Grad rockets Hamas is firing at Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Kiryat Malachi are rockets of despair. The rockets fired at Tel Aviv and all points north are rockets of fanaticism. With their backs to the wall, our fanatical enemies to the south have decided to tear down their house over their heads, in hopes of taking some of the complacent ones with them. Left without a future, the fanatic, starving people of the Gaza Strip are trying to bog down the complacent Israeli democracy in their mess. ”

        He is so caring and always stands up for the disenfranchised provided they aren’t Palestinian vermin.

      • just on December 18, 2014, 5:08 pm

        It’s painful to read again, seafoid. From your link:

        “Israel’s years of calm are over

        The bubble has burst. The combination of Hamas’ fanaticism, desperation and rocket capabilities are only the precursor to what we can expect over the next years and decades.”

        Israel has only ever created chaos and misery.

        Q: When is justice, peace , and self- determination referred to as “fanaticism”???

        A: When a ‘Liberal Zionist’ says so.

    • TdBerg on December 19, 2014, 5:34 pm

      You said below: “Anyone who sympathises with religious- fundamentalist terrorists is a right-winger.”

      Does that same statement not apply to far right Jewish jihadists or are they exempt? Very hypocritical Jon.

  2. seafoid on December 18, 2014, 3:45 pm
    • just on December 18, 2014, 4:23 pm

      Salem Shamaly, RIP.

      There was no “war”. There was another massacre. JVP is part of the new “Enlightenment”. Israel is not.

  3. CitizenC on December 18, 2014, 4:09 pm

    As Mondo pointed out a few years ago, Hannukah is the last candidate for an “affirmation of universalism”. It is a historical event to which religious significance has been belatedly attributed for Zionist and other reasons, as Mondo noted in 2 posts a while back.

    • annie on December 18, 2014, 4:29 pm

      Hannukah is the last candidate for an “affirmation of universalism”.

      soooo, i guess you’re not interested in JVP offering a bold universalist hanukkah message.

      • CitizenC on December 18, 2014, 5:39 pm

        You didn’t re-read the earlier Mondo posts. A “bold universalist hanukkah message” is a contradiction in terms. We urgently need to deconstruct such mythology, not sentimentalize it.

      • Mooser on December 18, 2014, 9:33 pm

        “Hannukah is the last candidate for an “affirmation of universalism”.”

        Hanuka is what you make it. There’s no Hanuka-miester who compels anybody to celebrate it or interpret it in any particular way. If people want to change the meaning of Hanuka, and give it a universal aspect, nothing will stop them.
        Hey, aren’t Christian holidays often new Christian interpretations or celebrations of what were pagan holidays? Well, if they can do that, so can we. Change the meaning of the holiday. Heck, we could even change the scriptures associated with the holiday, and nobody would notice.
        “Hey man, has Hannukah seemed more, well, ‘universalist’ to you lately?”
        “Chill, dude, as long as the 8-days-8-presents mitzvah is observed, I should argue about theology?”
        “By jove, you’re right, old horse-radish, why make tsuris?”

      • CitizenC on December 19, 2014, 12:46 pm

        Yes there is a Hanukkah meister, Zionism, as Avigail and the Brooklyn rabbi pointed out in their articles. And more broadly Jewish efforts to distinguish themselves by having a “major holiday” at Christmastime. Hanukkah is a minor event outside the US, as one scholar pointed out in a book on Hanukkah in the US. JVP’s “universalization” is the nnth iteration of their mission to Judaize what should be secular dissent.

        Here’s the book on Hanukkah

        Here is a review from the Forward. The underlying facts about Hanukkah appear not to have changed, rather the interpretation. The view of the author’s teachers has gone radically out of fashion, on the left no less than the mainstream.

      • MHughes976 on December 19, 2014, 1:19 pm

        The very fact that the message of Hanukkah, a popular event among people of Jewish faith, is traditionally regarded as nationalist makes it more, rather than less, impressive that some people of Jewish faith have chosen the occasion of Hanukkah to protest against injustice inflicted on Palestinians.

      • Mooser on December 22, 2014, 12:42 pm

        This is exactly what I am talking about.
        Here we have a perfectly good winter holiday, involving fire (candles), presents, gambling games, chocolate money with gold-foil wrapping, wild geese that fly with the moon on….oh sorry, saw that last night, and it lasts eight glorious days.
        Why screw it up?

    • wondering jew on December 18, 2014, 8:40 pm

      Hanuka’s heroes were not universalist, although the occupying power did not believe in freedom of religion, so the idea of revolting against an occupying power and freedom of religion can be one possible lesson of the historical events. Although recognition of Hanuka is certainly not as extensive or as early as other holiday recognition, it is mentioned in the Talmud and the laws of lighting of the candles is part of the Jewish law books including the one compiled by Maimonides, which was hundreds of years before Zionism.

      • Mooser on December 18, 2014, 9:12 pm

        Plus, on Hanuka, one gets presents. When it comes to Hanuka, I’m pretty frum, no deviations, no slacking off. There’s eight days, I get eight presents.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 4:25 pm

        Also, on Hanuka, we honor the great Rabbi Ben Der, by staying completely schnozzled through the entire holiday.

        It is completely beyond me, it is beyond my comprehension of the history, religion, economics, morality and ethics of Judaism, why anybody would want to inject theology into a holiday based on getting presents, and lighting candles? Who doesn’t like those? Why mess it up?

      • Mooser on December 20, 2014, 12:28 pm

        I might mention that dreidels are pretty cool, too! Anybody gonna talk bad about dreidels better watch out. And Hanuka gelt which is chocolate discs with gold foil wrappers embossed to look like coins. Love that stuff.

        I’m pretty sure a childhood Hanuka was when my parents allowed me to light my first match, too.
        I’ll never forget to remember it: My Yiddishe Pater, instructing me in traditional accelerants, and beaming with paternal pride as my childish fingers got the shamash lit, along with most of the living-room furniture.
        My Dad, always quick to sense the potentialities in his offspring, praised my skill, and generously predicted I would be be burning warehouses for insurance money before I reached my Bar Mitzvah!
        Dad always had high hopes for me, and I disappointed him so sorely. I can’t blame him, he always wanted me to get an early start to my career, so that by the time I turned 18 and could be prosecuted as an adult the statute of limitations would be up and I couldn’t be charged. But I turned out to be a late boomer. Of course, I guess I started out that way, considering the year I was born.
        Ah, those bittersweet Hanuka memories.

  4. Kay24 on December 18, 2014, 9:08 pm

    That is a very impressive Hanukkah message from JVP. These folks are doing a great job representing voices that do not agree with the Israeli government and zionist policies.
    Their voices should be heard and their message understood in the US. Unlike other voices, JVP must find it even harder to push through the “self hating” accusation, to make their message heard. Still, they persevere. Good luck to all.

    • Mooser on December 18, 2014, 9:20 pm

      I don’t know that JVP needs to worry too much about that “self-hating” slur. There’s a big prize out there. There may be more people out there who could potentially identify as Jewish, and enjoy some Jewish fellowship or worship, but prefer not to, than there are practicing, affiliated Jews, at the present. It may be that a great deal of JVPs support will come from that cohort, than it will from persuading Zionist Jews to a new outlook.

      • annie on December 19, 2014, 3:18 am

        exactly mooser. it’s the herding of the cats. so many wild ones unanticipated coming out of the closets and alleyways, nooks and crannies and mountain roads.

      • seafoid on December 19, 2014, 9:54 am

        Good point, Mooser. there must be a lot of Jews who have jumped ship in the last 20 years because they feel the thugs do not speak for them.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:14 am

        “Mooser. there must be a lot of Jews who have jumped ship”

        Of course, ‘jumping ship’ is much easier for those who are half-Jewish, they only sink up to their knees.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:38 am

        It seems to me that if the intermarriage rate can be estimated, the walk-away rate could be at least intelligently estimated. Sort of a ‘how many would there be with few walk-aways given natural increase’, etc. against well, how many there are.

        But then again, you never know! I mean, Yonah told me yesterday that the 6 million-ish people in Israel are all the descendants of the 400,000 Jews in Palestine in 1939!

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:46 am

        .” it’s the herding of the cats”

        Well, it’s about time somebody set out a bowl of milk and some Friskies. And once there is a functioning alternative to the “Jewish establishment” all bets are off.

        Don’t forget the big 1888 Orthodox-Reform Unity banquet! The Jewish religion has split before, but of course, that was over something important.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 4:15 pm

        “Good point, Mooser. there must be a lot of Jews who have jumped ship in the last 20 years”

        Excuse me, my dear “seafoid”, I don’t think I ever said all those people have to be Jews. I’m no exclusivist. Besides, who’s gonna check?

  5. seanmcbride on December 18, 2014, 9:41 pm

    Check out this Google Trends graph, comparing interest in AIPAC, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Council for Judaism:

    ACJ is flatlining. JVP is showing a bit of life — but overall appears to be boxed in.

    More valuable for analysis would be membership numbers and budgets over time.

  6. RoHa on December 18, 2014, 9:47 pm

    “he worried about young American Jews losing their Jewish identity and drifting away from Israel.”

    Is “losing Jewish identity” the same thing as “drifting away from Israel”?
    If they are not the same, does “losing Jewish identity” regularly lead to “drifting away from Israel”?
    Is it possible to “drift away from Israel” without “losing Jewish identity”?

    • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:33 am

      “Is it possible to “drift away from Israel” without “losing Jewish identity”?”

      As long as I have the strength to garble a quote, mal a prop, break a syntax, and bake fresh puns once in a while, I will never lose my Jewish identity!

      • just on December 19, 2014, 1:30 pm


        You are such a mensch, Mooser. Thank you. You always make me smile. You give joy and are a gift.

      • Kay24 on December 19, 2014, 9:58 pm

        That is funny indeed. I agree with Annie. Nothing like a little humor to interject the seriousness of the situation, and Mooser does have a talent to say it in the most interesting ways. Heh.

  7. OyVey00 on December 18, 2014, 9:57 pm

    I’ll start believing in Jewish universalism when they’ll stop teaching they’re the “chosen people” and allow Jews to marry gentiles.

    • hophmi on December 19, 2014, 12:09 am

      Who is they? Most Jews are ok with intermarriage and most liberal rabbis perform them. Chosenness does not equal superiority; that is a myth.

      • OyVey00 on December 19, 2014, 4:33 am

        Religious Jews.

        As far as superiority is concerned: Believing you or your people are a special snowflake among mankind is just asking for trouble. Israel’s current dilemma stems mostly from the collective inability of Jews to hold themselves to the same standards they hold up for gentiles.

      • eljay on December 19, 2014, 8:29 am

        >> hophmeee: Chosenness does not equal superiority …

        Someone might want to inform Zio-supremacists of this. They seem to have missed the memo.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:25 am

        “Most Jews are ok with intermarriage”

        In Israel, does it matter what “most Jews are ok with”? I don’t think it does, does it? Doesn’t matter how “liberal” the Jew is, what matters is if the State tries to control marriage along ethno-religious lines, as they do in Israel, with the co-operation of religion. A shameful and anti-Semitic situation.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:30 am

        “Chosenness does not equal superiority; that is a myth.”

        Go tell Bennet and your other buddies that. We already know it, Hophmi.

        And that the concept of “chosen” is being pushed and promulgated as superiority among right-wing Jews? Is that a myth? That Jewish superiority undergirds everything about Israel? Is that a myth?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 6:52 pm

        “Israel’s current dilemma stems mostly from the collective inability of Jews to hold themselves to the same standards they hold up for gentiles.”

        We hold up the standard for Gentiles? Who knew! Such a responsibility!

      • Marnie on December 20, 2014, 5:15 am

        By +972 Blog
        |Published December 18, 2014
        Israel’s marriage police: An aberration from Jewish tradition

        From interrogations to blacklists to computerized databases, Israel’s rabbinical authorities have adopted a coercive system of oversight that punishes violators of Jewish law’s bans on ‘certain’ kinds of relationships.

        By Akiva Miller

        Everyone knows that Israel’s Jewish-Orthodox-controlled marriage system must change. But while activists, lawyers and politicians struggling to reform it have won some important battles in recent years, one of the most important factors behind the crisis — the rabbinical authorities’ system of databases, investigative methods, and coercive powers — has received too little attention.

      • Mooser on December 22, 2014, 12:54 pm

        ” the rabbinical authorities’ system of databases, investigative methods, and coercive powers”

        Can you imagine living, or dating under that system? I’m sure a little pelf can smooth the way to the alter, or for that matter smooth the way out. Doesn’t it cover divorce, too?

    • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:19 am

      “and allow Jews to marry gentiles.”

      It’s horrible, isn’t it? All those Jewish-Gentile couples, seeking desperately for somebody to marry them, and meeting everywhere the same response: ‘uh,uh, not happening, and remember, no huggee, no kissee, til you get a wedding ring! Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself!’

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 11:22 am

        Oh gee, sorry, “OyVey00”, it didn’t occur to me that you might live in Israel, where Jews are oppressed by anti-Semitic laws and religious repression. I didn’t mean to make fun of an awful situation like that.
        Now allowing Jews to marry whom they please? Somebody oughta do something about it!

  8. oldgeezer on December 19, 2014, 7:38 pm

    Wow. Beautiful and moving.

    As I watched I thought to myself, just imagine how powerful this would be with a soundtrack. Then I discovered the volume was off.

    • annie on December 19, 2014, 9:18 pm


      • oldgeezer on December 20, 2014, 2:33 am

        A smile is the best gift even if it means revealing yourself as the occassional idiot :)

        Happy whatever you want to call it.. I call it Christmas. Sometimes Xmas. While atheist it’s what I was raised with. Regardless, in general western cutlure it’s a time to hold those dear to you close and enjoy it.

        I wish the same, in terms of expectations, to those in the middle east or anywhere else. We all want it, and frankly, we all deserve it.

        Sadly I expect some serious incidents within the next two weeks. Israel has a propensity to strike at the Palestinians, or their leadership, during this period as they figure the world’s attention is elsewhere.

      • annie on December 21, 2014, 1:27 am

        i hope we make it thru the holiday season without another massive assault oldgeezer.

        the first time i saw the video i just cried. then i watched it over and over. i love jvp, they totally rock. and i love the soundtrack. here’s another smile just for you ;)

      • oldgeezer on December 21, 2014, 1:40 pm

        And the same to you dear lady. Stay safe, warm and keep up the good fight. :)

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