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JVP-Portland Reading Group – The new JVP national “approach to Zionism”
February 5 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
This month we’ll be discussing the recently announced Jewish Voice for Peace national “approach to Zionism”, which can be seen here: https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/zionism/
We will meet at the home of Maria Barahona on Tuesday evening, February 5th, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Here are the readings. Please RSVP to Carol Landsman firstname.lastname@example.org for directions if you need them.
1) The National JVP Zionism statement https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/zionism/
2) The PDX April 18, 2018 statement on Zionism (appended below).
3) Cecilie Surasky’s talk at PSU (link from the JVP national page on Zionism):
4) Ben Lorber’s blog post (link from the JVP national page on Zionism):
5) A brief article on the history of bi-nationalist Zionism by Joel Beinin (please write to Carol for this article).
JVP-Portland Statement on JVP’s Zionism Policy
April 12, 2018
In response to the recent policy discussion of JVP’s position on Zionism, the Portland chapter of JVP respectfully urges that no change be made to the current policy. Our understanding of the current policy is not that JVP does not have a position on Zionism or is neutral on the question. Rather we see the current policy as a conscious decision not to focus on Zionism as an ideology but on the practices of the state of Israel: first and foremost, the occupation of Palestinian territories occupied in the 1967 war, but also the institutional inequality of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the refusal of every Israeli government since 1948 to engage in serious discussions over the rights of the Palestinian refugees and the consequences of the Nakba more broadly.
Allowing members of JVP to be self-identified as Zionist, anti-Zionist, non-Zionist has, in our view, been of great benefit to our organization and to the goal of building a strong movement and campaign for justice and self-determination for all peoples of the region, and especially for bringing an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and ongoing theft of Palestinian land and to the discriminatory and chauvinistic policies towards non-Jewish citizens of Israel, especially most recently the Bedouin of the Negev/Naqab.
For many of us, the path taken to our current views of the Palestine-Israel conflict began with a limited and often deeply flawed understanding of Israel’s history and current character. While we might not have identified ourselves as Zionist, per se, most of us have at one time in our lives held views and understandings that could reasonably be classified as Zionist – perhaps “Dovish Zionist” or perhaps even more so “Ignorant Zionist”, because they were based on radically false understandings of the events that led to the creation of the state of Israel, the character of Israeli society, and the actual policies of Israel both inside the pre-1967 Green Line and in the territories occupied since 1967.
In spite of having these varying starting points for our politics and perspectives on the Palestine-Israel conflict, we have all come to an understanding that is in accord with the goals and principles embraced by Jewish Voice for Peace. The openness of JVP to people who hold varying views regarding Zionism has been invaluable for maintaining and broadening the path leading to our deeper and more accurate understanding of the stakes in Israel/Palestine.
If JVP adopts an “anti-Zionist” policy, rather than maintaining the current policy, we would essentially be burning a bridge that many of us have already crossed. It would be like knocking aside a ladder that we’d been given to climb out of our own ignorance, depriving others of the same supportive space that we had been privileged and fortunate to have.
We believe that JVP has been forthright and clear on the principles that guide and inspire our work. If there are those who feel greater clarity is needed, we are open to more precisely mapping out the politics and the principles that guide our work. But this should not be defined in relation to an ideology or doctrine which is understood in radically different ways within the Jewish community.
Rather, we will most successfully build support within the Jewish community and beyond by emphasizing our commitment to principles of pluralistic democracy, human rights, and international law. Where the state of Israel diverges from those principles, as in its failure to create a state for all its citizens, its brutal occupation and theft of Palestinian land, and its ethnic and religious discrimination, we believe that we can most effectively challenge Israel’s human rights violations by appeal to those universal principles.
We understand that Palestinians may have different considerations than those that motivate JVP on this question. That is entirely legitimate. While this may cause occasional frictions, we don’t believe that this should impede more fundamental relationships of alliance and solidarity.
In our view, this is the wrong moment to risk alienating Jews and non-Jews who are once again faced with the stark reality of Israeli crimes and are looking for an organization and community to begin a journey to a deeper understanding. Many still believe the Jews need a homeland, and many have not yet seen beyond perceiving anti-Zionism as antisemitism. We should be inviting such people into the conversation, rather than posting a sign that reads “Zionists Not Welcome Here”.
Portland, Oregon, Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace