Seth Morrison used to travel to Israel to work on a kibbutz and go to AIPAC’s policy conferences. Today, the 63-year-old attends Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) meetings.
Morrison’s long political evolution is an increasingly common story among liberal Jews. The deepening of the Israeli occupation is pushing people like Morrison to the left–and to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
In recent years, Morrison has made bold stands against the occupation and what he views as the inadequacy of the Jewish response to it. In 2011, he publicly quit the board of the Jewish National Fund’s Washington, D.C. chapter because the organization was transferring Palestinian homes into the hands of settlers in East Jerusalem. He left J Street in late 2013 to join JVP.
He told me that leaving J Street was hard for him, but that meeting with Rebecca Vilkomerson, JVP’s executive director, convinced him to take the leap. Still, the break with J Street was not without costs.
In an e-mail, Morrison wrote that some friends “cut me off totally, including a few very long term friends who frankly I expected better from…Frankly some of the biggest surprises were from liberal Zionists who just can’t accept that I would support BDS. One or more of them pushed hard to have me resign from the DC Leadership Council of the New Israel Fund.”
He says he has no regrets, though. He spoke at the Israel lobby conference in Washington last Friday.
I caught up with Morrison at the JVP national membership meeting in March to get his full story. The result of my conversation with him is this audio piece: