This is nice, but I'm not sure it's honest. For one thing, "Zionism" is not properly understood. Of course Zionism is a racist, settler-colonial movement. But it's more than that. Zionism is also the notion that Jewish people, anywhere in the world, constitute an independent ethnic "nation" of people, transforming the spiritual interconnectedness of Jewish communities in the Diaspora into a form of ethnic nationalism. The consequence of ethnic nationalism, that interpreted Jews as a "nation without a land" was the dispossession and settlement of Palestine. But the underlying ideological belief that determined who was to settle the land was based on Jewish nationalism.
It is difficult to figure out why a group of Jews in America who reject Zionism nonetheless have organized a group whose membership, staff, board, and accountability lies only with the Jewish community. Many individual Jews support Palestine out of their ideological commitment to other things (such as Chomsky being committed to opposing war, or Norman Finkelstein being generally in favor of national liberation movements). Likewise, some Jewish groups like Naturei Karta reject Israel, but do so out of shared religious beliefs that are unique to them. Still, other people who happen to be Jewish might oppose Israel for the same reason they might oppose any ethnic nation-state.
This group, in contrast, is not religious and not motivated by some alternate political ideology. The thing that binds the members of the group together is that, even though they live in the U.S., they are Jewish and therefore feel some sort of tie to Israel. They've even said so in previous statements, for example Vilkomerson saying that they wanted to make Israel "better" after she and other Jews visited and saw that it wasn't what their parents' generation made it out to be.
In effect, the entire JVP organizing model is based around saying Jews have a sort of underlying, a priori ethnic tie to this foreign state, and they should use that tie to magnify their criticism the same way that a group of citizens might do to express their grievances. Except here they are acting as citizens of Israel, not the country that they are actually in.
And the rest of the statement itself reaffirms this. JVP felt that they could only issue this statement, that many of its members already agreed with in the abstract, once some of its own members were cajoled into it. That it was the right position, and that it was shared by virtually all Palestinians, was irrelevant; instead, what mattered was that there was holdout from the Jewish community, so they felt like they had to slow-walk something that should be a no-brainer for people who support Palestine. Effectively, they were forced by their own organizing model to make concessions because that model is internally Zionist: it is premised on Jews in America having a citizen-state-like relationship with Israel and privileging the significance of one's ethnic Jewishness, even while overtly criticizing the Zionist state. If they had adopted a multiethnic model, or (god forbid) a model that involved any sort of direct accountability to the Palestinians, they would not have had to do this. They could instead invest very limited resources into people and communities that already shared their views and didn't already identify, on some level, with Israel, as some of their membership apparently did/does.
Sorry, but this is brazenly naive. The reality is that Israeli propaganda has always been at odds with reality. The writer is suggesting that the more SJP's image contradicts the propaganda, the more successful they will be. That is false.
In reality, SJP and the Palestinian people in their entirety have always been distinct from the propaganda that has been voiced about them. Whether or not that makes a difference depends entirely on the views of the observers. Students loaded with racism and prejudice will not suddenly change their views when faced with such contradictions, and students without those prejudice would already have been supportive irrespective of what slander campaigns are used against the student activists.
But more importantly, it is absolutely not a sign of strength that SJP is expected to maintain good optics. In any real struggle, particularly an ethnic/racial conflict, it is expected that people from one side engage in the kind of harsh rhetoric that comes with war. Likewise, it is inevitable when discussing something as delicate as race that even benign or insightful comments about racism will be perceived as "reverse discrimination" (in this case, "anti-Semitism").
That National SJP reblogged sympathetic words about the massacre of Jews is not notable because virtually anyone with a brain condemned that act. Even the guy who did it mentioned the "optics" of other Neo-Nazis who know it is bad press to kill elderly worshipers.
The more indicative evidence of SJP's views on anti-Semitism are the general day-to-day operations of SJP on campuses (and not the National branch, which is a mismanaged e-mail list-serv that throws annual parties with a dwindling number of attendees). Anyone who has traveled the lecture circuit or followed these groups on Facebook knows that SJP's don't just condemn anti-Semitism; they go out of their way to privilege Jewish voices, censor their own programming as a result of perceived anti-Semitism (rather than real anti-Semitism), silence Palestinians who take stronger stances, aggressively filter out the voices of Palestinians who do not live in America; avoid any sort of confrontation generally, and defer uncritically to the views of local Jewish groups that have mixed politics.
In short, SJP's willingness to contradict the propaganda, not just by condemning anti-Semitism when it's in the news but by going out of its way to accommodate Jews and anti-Semitism concerns -- including totally fabricated and hysterical accusations made in bad faith --doesn't prove that it is a strong movement getting stronger. It proves it is a weak movement that is easily pushed into submission and cannot properly protect the voices of the wider community it seeks to represent. That it must win people over by avoiding anything that could even vaguely be perceived as anti-Semitic -- such as harsh criticism of Israel, discussion of race privilege, or even just the kind of chauvinistic rhetoric that comes with every racial/ethnic conflict -- shows that they are not strong. And if you ask many of the former student organizers who did this as undergraduates, they will tell you the same thing.
It is definitely gross but let's keep in mind that none of these people -- AOC, Pramila Jaypal, Bernie Sanders, etc. -- are beacons of hope for Palestine. They are at best an attempt to return America to within the general bounds of caring about the poor.
Beto has an actual chance at winning and knocking out Ted Cruz. It would be political suicide to defend Palestine in Texas, and it would be a massive step backward if we could have a "less" pro-Israel person in Ted Cruz' place. We shouldn't just be measuring it by how "good" Beto is, but how disgusting and freakish Ted Cruz is. Beto's remarks are gross, but compared to Ted Cruz' unyielding support for Israel, Beto is still better.
None of these people will ever liberate Palestine. Until there is a functioning Palestinian national movement, the best you will get is a few people who rabble-rouse about Palestine because they have no shot at power. Indeed, that's what AOC was. She condemned Israel because she and everyone else thought she would lose. Look at how quickly she changed her position once she was guaranteed a victory. It is the same thing here.
The only question is, given the current reality, whether we can continue to use Palestine as a deal-breaker. In activism, I'd agree with NE but when it comes to voting for a Congressperson or Senator, we aren't there yet and we may never get there.