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.