JVP Endorses Antisemitism

Israel, Durham City Council, Israel Resolution

Earlier this month, Voice4Israel published a statement explaining how the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement opposes the very existence of Israel. Now we have learned that the Triangle North Carolina chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), true to its BDS mission of abolishing Israel, recently promoted the “Miko Peled NC Tour” on social media.

Peled promotes the idea that it is unlawful to recognize Israel and has repeatedly stated, it is “time to make Israel Palestine again.” In 2018 Peled tweeted, “Using the name ‘Israel’ legitimizes the genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. If we reject those, then we must use the name ‘Palestine.'”

Progressive and conservative publications alike have rebuked Peled for antisemitic comments. For example, in 2016 the progressive Jewish Forward called-out what they described as Peled’s “string of anti-Semitic tweets.” In these tweets, Peled portrayed Jews as “sleazy thieves” and compared Israel to the Nazis. Legal Insurrection, a conservative-leaning publication, has detailed Peled’s antisemitism and anti-Zionism for years explaining, “Peled does not accept Israel’s existence. He considers all of Israel occupied territory, illegitimate, and in need of liberation.” In one of his many disturbing tweets, Peled stated, “Jews who support #Israel don’t mind the Nazi like methods of oppression.”

In 2017, Mondoweiss – one of the most anti-Israel publications on the internet – rebuked Peled for discussing free speech and the holocaust in a way that “was a major dog-whistle for all kinds of Holocaust deniers and revisionists.”

Miko Peled used this hat as his avatar on Twitter in 2016.

Mondoweiss added, “He [Peled] is quite clearly whistling to Holocaust deniers.” In a deeply troubling 2017 tweet, Peled wrote, “in fact Israelis are NOT victims of the Nazis or anyone else…”

In 2017, the British shadow secretary of the Labour Party publicly condemned Peled, saying, “We should have absolute zero tolerance when it comes to the quite disgusting and pitiful antisemitism that sadly we’re sometimes seeing on social media these days.” This is striking because the Labour Party itself has been widely accused of antisemitism.

In 2016, the Princeton Committee on Palestine — an intensely anti-Israel organization — uninvited Peled from speaking due to what they called his “anti-Semitic and hateful” statements. Even JVP’s national office and its Executive Director called Peled’s tweets antisemitic and publicly supported canceling the Princeton talk.

Voice4Israel, Miko Peled, JVP
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of the anti-Israel group calling itself JVP, supported the cancellation of Miko Peled's talk at Princeton due to antisemtism.

Anti-Israel activists immediately began accusing JVP leadership of being closeted Zionists. The message was loud and clear – JVP’s denouncement of left wing antisemitism would not be tolerated by anti-Israel activists. A few days after condemning Peled for antisemitic language, the national office of JVP attempted to slightly walk back their criticism by saying that Peled used “reckless” language due to his “privilege.” Oddly enough, JVP never deleted their widely circulated social media posts accusing Peled of using antisemitic language.

The anti-Israel left is so disturbed by Peled’s statements that even many BDS activists have denounced what they have called his antisemitic comments. Yet, even after JVP’s national leadership and other anti-Israel groups condemned Peled for hateful and antisemtic remarks, the Triangle chapter of JVP chose to endorse Peled’s three local North Carolina speaking events in 2019.

While JVP calls itself Jewish, in reality, it is part of the antisemitic movement to boycott, divest, and sanction only Israel. In Voice4Israel’s recent statement titled BDS Attacks Come to the Triangle, we explained that the BDS movement consistently rejects the right of Israel to exist and practices antisemitism by demonizing and delegitimizing Israel, by holding Israel to double standards, and by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Local BDS activists refer to themselves as anti-Zionists.

Voice4Israel fully supports freedom of opinion and expression in our community. We also believe that Jewish congregations should strive to uphold their values and stated missions which include love and support of Israel. As Voice4Israel has recently pointed out, a few JVP members hold leadership roles in our local synagogues. The anti-Zionist actions and goals of JVP— which include employing antisemitic elements, embracing convicted terrorists, and endorsing hateful speakers — we feel should not be given legitimacy or a voice by our treasured Jewish institutions.

BDS Attacks Come to the Triangle

Israel, Durham City Council, Israel Resolution

What is BDS?

BDS is the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel. BDS targets only one country — Israel — which is the only country with a Jewish majority population. 

During a 2019 interview, the co-founder and leader of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, explained that boycotting Israel would continue even after the establishment of a Palestinian state. In other words, the BDS movement denies the very right of Israel to exist.

BDS Rejects the Right of Israel to Exist

Barghouti does not hide the BDS movement’s goal: “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

The BDS Movement website refers to the “right of return” as “the most important of all Palestinian rights.” For many BDS activists and leaders, this envisions a one state solution in which millions of Palestinians move into Israel — not into the future state of Palestine — thus eliminating Israel. In Barghouti’s own words, “If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution, you’d have a Palestine next to a Palestine.”

BDS Demonizes Israel with False Accusations of Apartheid

One of the ways BDS activists and anti-Zionists attack Israel is by the false and defamatory accusation that Israel practices apartheid. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) responds: “Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the full range of civil and political rights, including the right to organize politically, the right to vote and the right to speak and publish freely. Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish Israelis serve as members of Israel’s security forces, are elected to parliament and appointed to the country’s highest courts. They are afforded equal educational opportunities, and there are ongoing initiatives to further improve the economic standing of all of Israel’s minorities. These facts serve as a counter to the apartheid argument, and demonstrate that Israel is committed to democratic principles and equal rights for all its citizens.”

In the New York Times column Why Israel Is Nothing Like Apartheid South Africa, a South African journalist explains, “I am acutely aware of Israel’s problems and faults, but it is nothing like South Africa before 1994. Those who accuse Israel of apartheid — some even say, ‘worse than apartheid’ — have forgotten what actual apartheid was, or are ignorant, or malevolent.”
Tshediso Mangope, a member of the African National Congress, explained, “The argument by BDS supporters that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved with a one-state solution, following the South African model of democracy, is false and dangerous. This assessment is heavily supported by my experiences in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, as well as my experiences as a black South African who experienced apartheid…Expecting people with a bitter history of persecution, like the Jewish people, to abandon the idea of a Jewish state, the only state that has guaranteed them freedom and security, is not only unreasonable, but also unfair.”

BDS in North Carolina

Here in North Carolina, BDS activists refer to themselves as anti-Zionists and have attacked and harmed the Jewish community. Most notably, the local chapter of the euphemistically named Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) led the campaign to have the Durham City Council pass the “Israel Resolution” which made Durham the first city in the U.S. to boycott police training specifically with Israel. 11 local rabbis referred to this as a “punch in the gut” to the Jewish community.

Tweet by local BDS organization identifying themselves as anti-Zionists.

In 2018, BDS activists led by JVP went to Durham City Hall and told the Mayor and City Council lies saying that Israel is the last country in the world to respect human rights and Israel trains U.S. police officers to return to the U.S. as killers. JVP’s petition — signed by six out of seven council members before being delivered to the Council to be turned into the “Israel Resolution” —basely alleged that training American police in Israel “helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the U.S.” 

In 2018, a local JVP leader wrote a public email to five fellow JVP members and to Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson opposing a leader of the Durham Hispanic community as a candidate for Durham City Council because the candidate, a Latino woman, attends Beth El Synagogue. Rather than distance themselves from their leader’s antisemitic email, JVP recently doubled down on hate by featuring a picture on social media of this leader attending an August, 2019 JVP leadership retreat.

BDS and Anti-Zionism in Our Jewish Institutions 

Love of Israel is a basic tenet of our mainstream Jewish institutions and synagogues. In 2018 the Union of Reform Judaism proclaimed that “Zionism and love of Israel” are “core beliefs and central tenets of North American Reform Jewish life.” The Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill explains, “We view Israel as a core element of Jewish life.” A goal of Hillel International is to “inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel and to Israelis.”

The BDS inspired Israel hatred in the Triangle area became very concrete when a local synagogue board member, who is a also a BDS activist in the role of a JVP leader, announced on social media that they encouraged the Durham City Council to single out Israel in its now infamous “Israel Resolution.” This BDS activist even bragged on Twitter, “I am…a leader in my synagogue.” Many community and congregation members were dismayed to find out that a synagogue leader used their status as a synagogue board member to promote BDS with local government. This same individual currently co-chairs this same synagogue’s Adult Education Committee. The past co-chair of this same committee is also a local JVP leader. Thus, the very synagogue committee that was charged with planning Israel-related programming has been led by anti-Israel activists. This committee even went so far as to publish a website with the synagogue’s picture and name linking it to anti-Israel, pro BDS materials. Thankfully this website was taken offline. With so many BDS supporters in key leadership positions, it is sadly no surprise that this same synagogue featured a BDS presentation led by a JVP activist. 

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism and a past rabbi at Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, warns, “BDS speakers have no place in American synagogues. They do not simply oppose Israeli policies; they oppose Israel’s very existence.”

BDS in Local Academia

Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are academic leaders in BDS activism and anti-Israel demonization.

Duke University Press: BDS’s Publisher of Choice

In the article Ivory Tower Bigots, Tablet Magazine explained, “for those seeking an ardently anti-Zionist classroom, Duke University Press has found its scholarly niche as the BDS movement’s publisher of choice.” 

In 2017 Duke University Press published the Right to Maim by Jasbir Puar, a BDS leader. In the book — which one historian called “academic garbage” — Puar writes about what she calls “Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule – that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.” Puar states, “Debilitation is extremely profitable economically and ideologically for Israel’s settler colonial regime.”

In the “The Right to Maim,” Puar presents thinly veiled comparisons of Israelis to Nazis when she wonders if Gaza is “not a death camp but a debilitation camp,” asks, “Is Gaza an experimental lab for the production, maintenance, and profitability of biopolitical debilitation?” and states, “The understanding of maiming as a specific aim of biopolitics tests the framing of settler colonialism as a project of elimination of the indigenous through either genocide or assimilation.” It is important to note that according to the State Department, one example of antisemitism is “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

As reported in 2018 by a Voice4Israel board member, seven members of Duke University Press’ Editorial Advisory Board, charged with granting “final approval” to manuscripts, have signed initiatives related to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. An eighth member of this board promoted BDS on social media. In other words, a majority of Duke University Press’ Editorial Advisory Board supports BDS related initiatives against Israel. In addition, at least three of their staff members are anti-Israel activists. The official Duke University Press Twitter account has made more than 20 Tweets which include “#BDS.” Considering its staff, advisers, and social media presence, it is no surprise that Duke University Press has a long, disgraceful history of publishing anti-Israel and antisemitic screeds camouflaged as scholarly work.

Antisemitic UNC/Duke Conference

In 2019 the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies hosted the “Conflict Over Gaza” conference which was in reality, three days of anti-Israel indoctrination. North Carolina Congressman George Holding asked the Department of Education to investigate this conference writing, “According to first-hand accounts, the conference had a radical anti-Israel bias…A video recently surfaced depicting the main musical performer, rapper Tamer Nafar, singing a brazenly antisemitic song.” 

Nafar encouraged his audience to sing along with him, saying “I cannot be antisemitic alone.” After the video of this antisemitic performance was made public, this conference became national and international news (see video above).

Many speakers at this joint UNC/Duke conference were BDS activists. For just one example, in a single conference presentation, titled “The (De) Development of Gaza: Economy, Women, and Youth,” both speakers, Sara Roy and Laila El-Haddad, and the moderator, Rebecca Stein, were all on record as having supported various boycotts of Israel. Perhaps the blatant antisemitism on display at this BDS oriented conference even surprised UNC and Duke officials because halfway through the event a conference organizer demanded that audience members stop recording. A Voice4Israel board member attempting to document the academic sponsored antisemitism on display was ordered by an event organizer to cease.

While the antisemitic song at the conference made big news, there were many other deeply troubling aspects of this UNC/Duke conference (read a three part conference report: part 1, part 2, part 3). For example, a Jewish student at Duke politely approached a presenter during a break. The presenter, a BDS activist, refused to speak with him but then spent considerable time at the conference speaking with anti-Israel activists. Those who observed these interactions report that it felt like a boycott of Jewish students. This raises the question — are some faculty and officials at UNC and Duke encouraging or allowing Jewish students to be treated differently and discriminatorily on campus?

BDS Apologists and Appeasers

Some BDS apologists, including some well-meaning Jewish leaders, are quick to say, “Not all BDS activists oppose the right of Israel to exist” and “Not all BDS activists are antisemitic.” 

Under President Obama’s leadership, the State Department of the United States provided three examples of ways which “anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel.” Demonizing Israel, holding Israel to double standards, and delegitimizing Israel. A fourth has recently been added: comparing Israel to the Nazis. The BDS movement consistently does all four.

At Voice4Israel, we fully support freedom of speech. This freedom includes our right to speak out against the bigotry and antisemitism that BDS promotes, attracts, embraces, and tolerates.

Lessons Learned from Local BDS Attacks

In 2018, the mainstream Jewish community and our allies suffered a terrible “punch in the gut” when the Durham North Carolina City Council compromised with BDS activists to make Durham the first city in the United States to boycott police trainings specifically with Israel. As terrible as this has been, one silver lining is that many local Jews, Jewish leaders, and our allies have become aware of the anti-Israel bigotry that BDS activists advocate in our community. 

Local synagogues and Jewish institutions are waking up to the reality that Jewish leaders need to be vigilant in supporting and safeguarding the values of our beloved Jewish institutions. 

Other Resources on BDS

The Voice4Israel suggests exploring the links below:

This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem

Elisha Waldman will be speaking at Beth El Synagogue

Event Featuring Dr. Elisha Waldman

This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem

Thursday, September  12, 2019

7:00PM, Beth El Synagogue 

1004 Watts Street, Durham, NC, 27701

Dr. Waldman is currently the Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He will talk about what it means to care for seriously ill children in the exceedingly complex context of Jerusalem and the Middle East, what lessons he’s learned from that work, and how it carries over to how we approach care for the seriously ill here in the U.S., especially in the current political climate. Learn more about Dr. Waldman and his book here. Contact Beth El for more information.

Congratulations to Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis

Cerelyn Davis

Durham Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis Inaugurated as President of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives  

Voice4Israel congratulates Durham Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis for becoming the 42nd National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

Voice4Israel acknowledges the valuable training Chief Davis received at the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. As reported in the city of Durham’s congratulatory press release:

"Chief Davis has experienced training opportunities abroad at the Emergency Preparedness College in York, England in 2005, and as a participant in an executive exchange session with the Israel National Police, in the cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Netanya in 2012. As a result of her mission, Davis developed a leadership curriculum designed to groom bright and extremely prepared leaders for 21st Century Policing."

City of Durham News
Bob Gutman, Cerelyn Davis
Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Voice4Israel Co-Chair Dr. Robert Gutman​

Event: Behind the Headlines of Israeli Politics

Dr. Jesse Ferris

Dr. Jesse Ferris joined the prestigious Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) in the fall of 2008 as Vice President of Strategy. His responsibilities include international programming and development.

Jesse’s first book is Nasser’s Gamble: How Intervention in Yemen Caused the Six Day War and the Decline of Egyptian Power, published in 2012 by Princeton University Press. 

Read more about Dr. Ferris here

Click here for event information.

How Hamas Exploits Children During the Riots on the Gaza Border

How Hamas Exploits Children

Hamas Uses Palestinian Children as Disposable Weapons

As the video below details, Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization – continues to coordinate attacks against Israel by using children as disposable weapons. The IsraellyCool blog correctly points out, this grotesque exploitation of Palestinian children is ignored by the United Nations, the media, and human rights organizations.

Event: Recent Controversies Regarding Infectious Disease Among a Small Minority of the Orthodox Jewish Community

Beth El, Edeard Halperin

Recent Controversies Regarding Infectious Disease Among a Small Minority of the Orthodox Jewish Community

This presentation will address measles and herpes outbreaks.

Saturday Aug 10, 2019 1pm – 2pm 

Beth El Synagogue, 1004 Watts St. Durham, NC 27701, USA

There is no fee or ticket for this event. For more information, visit this events page or contact Beth El Synagogue.

Edward C. Halperin MD MA is the Chancellor/CEO of New York Medical College (NYMC). Founded in 1860, NYMC merged with the Touro College system in 2011. Touro is the largest university under Jewish auspices in the U.S. Dr. Halperin is a pediatric radiation oncologist and the former dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Vice Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine.

Some of Our Favorite Podcasts on Israel and Judaism

Voice4Israel would like to share some of our favorite podcasts that regularly discuss Israel and other issues that are important to the Jewish community. These podcast recommendations include media that are left of center, right of center, and squarely in the center. The next time you are taking a walk, driving to work, or exercising check out one of these podcasts. 

What is your favorite podcast on Israel and Jewish issues? Send your podcast recommendations to voice@voice4Israel.com.

Israel, podcast

Two Nice Jewish Boys: An Israeli Podcast in English.

This podcast is published by the Jewish Journal. 

The two young hosts are Zionists who live in Israel that tackle a range of issues. Recent topics have included archeology in Israel, anti-Semitism on campus, gender, a Neo-Nazi who converted to Judaism, and Israeli elections. This podcast to be somewhat left of center on some issues. 

Israel, podcast

AJC Passport: A Weekly Podcast on Global Affairs

This podcast is published by the American Jewish Committee and describes itself as “a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens.” 

Recent topics include the Ethiopian protests in Israel and exploring Trump’s foreign policy. One recent episode was a polite discussion which included two members of Congress – one  Democrat and Republican to discuss anti-Semitism. 

The Land of Israel Podcast

This podcast is published by the Land of Israel Network and features a number of hosts. Our favorite host is recent Voice4Israel speaker Gil Hoffman who is editor at the Jerusalem Post. 

Recent topics include Can Barak Beat Bibi?, Is the Labor Party Really Dead?, and a Prater for Prosperity in Bahrain, and Jewish living under military control. The hosts for this podcast lean moderate and right of center.

Tokvah, Voice4Israel

Tikvah Podcast

This podcast is published by the Tikvah Fund which is a philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. 

Recent topics include Eternal Life, America’s Standoff with Iran, Jewish Communism, The Miracle of Jewish Continuity, the Legacy of Charles Krauthammer, and much more. 

Israel, podcast

Fault Lines Podcast

This podcast is published by the Jewish Daily Forward and is hosted by former Voice4Israel speaker Daniel Gordis and by Peter Beinhart. This is a debate-style podcast that is both polite and hard hitting.

While the Forward is typically considered a progressive, far left publication, Zionists will be impressed by Gordis’ strong arguments. Season one of this podcast is particularly interesting in its in-depth discussions about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and efforts to boycott Israel. 

Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage – Presented by Fort Bragg

Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

Exhibition Presented by Fort Bragg

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

“We become brave by doing brave things” reads the plaque honoring Terry Sanford, a former paratrooper, and later Governor of North Carolina and President of Duke University. This plaque adorns the exhibit gallery, “The Airborne and Special Operations Museum” at Fort Bragg, which houses the newly opened exhibition, “Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” 

In 2003, soldiers from Fort Bragg, when searching the headquarter basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence department discovered a most unusual cache — 2700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of Jewish documents. The trove, dating from the mid-16th century to the 1970s, has become known as the Iraqi Jewish archive. The exhibition includes a selection of traditional Jewish books, many printed in Baghdad in the late 19th or 20th century and others imported from Hebrew printing centers worldwide. The Baath party regime had expropriated the entirety of this material from synagogues and communal organizations, although what they hoped to learn from these many Jewish community records and religious texts remains unknown even to today.

Until the World War II, the Iraqi Jews, whose civilization had endured well over 2000 years, believed they were immune from the threat of growing Nazi-ism, especially as they had been treated well until then. But Shavuot 1941 proved a turning point, for on June 1-2, 1941, a pogrom of unprecedented anti-Jewish violence forever ended the community’s comfort. 180 Jews died and hundreds more were injured.

The exhibition, created by the U.S. National Archives with support from the US Department of State, runs through Sept 22. Click here for directions and additional information.

Read the Press Release.