Introducing Jewish Voice for Peace

Yesterday, February 11th, 2019 at 6pm in Kohlberg 116, a group of students hosted Swarthmore’s first-ever meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization inspired by the Jewish tradition to work for peace, dignity, and justice for all peoples from what is known today as the United States to Israel/Palestine.

What is Jewish Voice for Peace?

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is an organization dedicated to ending the Israeli Occupation and opposing all forms of anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab oppression, as well as organizing for a just peace for all peoples in Israel/Palestine and throughout the world. Throughout the country, JVP members have worked to uphold this vision of justice by protesting in the streets (“praying with our feet”), resisting Trump’s right-wing Israel agenda, working to “End the Deadly Exchange” between U.S. and Israeli police forces, and more.

JVP weaves together political action with the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) to create a rich tapestry of justice, dignity, and joy for all. While working to uphold and uplift the dignity of all peoples, JVP believes in learning from and building upon the global Jewish community’s long tradition of striving for justice and resisting oppression. With a uniquely Jewish perspective, JVP commits to protecting the rights of all peoples, not through police and security, but through solidarity, community building, and activism.

While working to transform the Jewish American community into a home for dignity and justice, JVP also follows the lead of others organizing for justice within their own communities, recognizing both the interconnectedness of our struggles for liberation and the unique abilities of marginalized peoples to fight for their own liberation. JVP fully endorses the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a powerful tool to pressure the State of Israel to comply with international law and bring about a just peace in Israel/Palestine. Similarly, JVP unequivocally opposes Zionism as a political ideology that runs counter to its vision of justice, equality, and freedom for all.

JVP’s current mission statement, adopted in 2009, reads: “Jewish Voice for Peace opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.”

Why Jewish Voice for Peace at Swarthmore?

We believe that JVP’s commitment to dignity and justice as well as its unique position as a Leftist Jewish organization are valuable, critical contributions to Swarthmore’s campus. While Jewish Americans are not the most impacted by Israeli Occupation and apartheid and should not be the loudest voices in the movement for Palestinian liberation, we feel called to come together and say: “Not in our name.”

We are a group of students who seek a space to be both unabashedly Jewish and political in our support for Palestinian rights. We believe that our Judaism is not “neutral” or “apolitical.” We believe that as college students in general and as young Jews specifically, we must consistently engage in difficult conversations and actively support movements for liberation and justice inside and outside our communities. Additionally, we want to add our voices to the conversation around BDS on campus because we feel that our perspective is often ignored or pushed aside to fulfill right-wing agendas. We resent the conflation of Judaism with unequivocal support for Israel and wish to push back on the narrative that all or most Jewish students on this campus feel isolated by and uncomfortable with the Students for Justice in Palestine’s BDS campaign.

As a student group, JVP is committed to organizing for justice on and off campus and to learning from those who have come before us––Black and Indigenous student organizers on this campus, radical Jewish activists throughout time and space, and Palestinians within and beyond the territory of Israel/Palestine. In the movement for justice in Palestine, we are dedicated to following the lead of Palestinians, fully supporting the call for BDS while using our own positionality to organize within our communities as Jews committed to justice. On campus, we look forward to working in parallel and in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine and other student organizations to make this campus and this world a more just place.

We are ready to fight every day for ourselves and for each other against the rising tides of fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Occupation. Will you join us?

Questions? Want to get involved?

Email Abby Saul (asaul1@swarthmore.edu) or Sydney Covitz (scovitz1@swarthmore.edu).