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September 27, 2017 3:21 pm

The Rebellious Teenagers of Jewish Voice for Peace

avatar by Jonathan Greenberg /

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A demonstration in Seattle by the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace. Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons. – Most Jews look on the segment of the Jewish community that hates Israel and Zionism with a mixture of disdain, irritation and puzzlement.

Yet, despite data indicating that a split between American Jewry and Israel is deepening, the organized Jewish world has yet to seriously and effectively address the problem.

Now, the anti-Israel voices in the Jewish world have decided to attack Birthright Israel — the largest educational organization in the world — for offering free trips to Israel for young Jews between the ages of 18-26. This would be a good time to fight back against our anti-Israel minority.

The campaign against Birthright Israel was launched by the anti-Israel organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). This group may be the single-most misnamed organization in the history of section 501 of the US tax code.

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While some JVP members might be Jewish according to religious law, their Judaism exists only to the extent that it can be used as a cudgel against the people with whom they claim to identify. They aren’t “for peace.” They’re in league with, and providing cover to, some of the planet’s worst Jew-haters.

The Anti-Defamation League has even published a thorough takedown of JVP, explaining that the group supports a Palestinian “right of return,” which would effectively end the Jewish state. JVP also describes Israel’s founding by the name the “nakba”– which is Arabic for catastrophe. JVP’s views often line up with those of Hamas, and JVP is actually more radical than the Palestinian Authority.

The JVP anti-Birthright manifesto reads like the kind of self-centered, labile poetry that an adolescent might write. Despite being faux-erudite, meaningless-intersectional-jargon-filled garbage, JVP’s statement — and its campaign to damage Birthright — won’t work. But then, its primary purpose is not to damage Birthright the organization. It’s primary purpose is to chip away at the heart of Zionism — the need for and desirability of Jewish national consciousness.

JVP isn’t even interested in damaging Birthright as an organization. If it were, their marketing campaign would be #RejectBirthright. Instead, it wants to #ReturnTheBirthright. Return is a permanent state of surrender, and the manifesto is explicit: it’s not okay that Israel exists. The JVP campaign seeks to fertilize the idea among young Jews that it’s acceptable to reject the Jewish national homeland, with the ancillary benefit of maybe damaging an organization that they dislike.

For decades, the American Jewish community didn’t need to make the case that Zionism addressed an urgent, ongoing Jewish need. The case was obvious. But as the founding generations and miracles of the Jewish state fade into history, that clarity has been lost.

Yet now that we need to make the case for Israel, we seem to lack the conviction to do so. Whether out of a misguided desire to make the enemies of Jewish national aspiration welcome in our communities, exhaustion from an argument that never seems to end, or our own political misgivings about Israeli policies, we have failed to support Israel and the very idea of Zionism.

The best response to the irritant of JVP would be to create and promote a core curriculum of unapologetic Zionism to every Jewish religious school and an adult education program at every synagogue and JCC in the country. This curriculum should not focus on the history of Israel nor the details of her defensive wars and conflicts (although that would also be valuable), but on the tremendous historical and intellectual roots of what Arthur Hertzberg called “the Zionist idea.”

Imagine if the resources of the broad, organized Jewish community were brought to bear on such a project. Imagine if the rebellious teenagers of JVP and their ridiculous manifesto had to compete in the marketplace of ideas with Hess, Ahad Ha’am, Klatzkin, Brandeis, Rabbi Kook and Jabotinsky.

So let’s make them. This attack on Birthright — an organization surely among the greatest in our people’s storied history — should be the last straw.

Jonathan Greenberg is an ordained reform rabbi and the senior vice president of the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on Twitter: @JGreenbergSez.

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  • Quester59

    Yes, There is a time for Peace Talking with one’s Long Time Enemies, And that is a good thing. However these Muslims have NO Right to Prevent the Body of a fallen Soldier so in my opinion, we should Take Them All to the Woodshed & Refuse to release them until they release the Soldiers body !

  • Ron Jeffry

    JVP is another Soros front

  • Gedalia Ilana Shepes

    Trying hard to be accepted by the majority
    Bunch of lost souls

  • The best antidote against the Anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace is Birthright Israel.

    • mordechai ben yosef

      Many members of JVP I have talked with went on Birthright. They returned radicalized by the puerile propaganda, dishonesty and racism they were subjected to.

  • David Sherman

    Well said.

  • Michael

    The result of “Jewish” parents who have brought their children up in a secular home where their is no sense of Jewish history, religion or tradition. Parents to busy making money and kids too busy on their electronic games.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    There is no question that the Birthright program has made a difference in many young people’s lives, but unfortunately it falls under the category of throwing money at a problem as the best way to deal with it. It ain’t necessarily so.

    Jews do need to be educated about all the historical nuances and philosophical ideas that went into the creation of the state of Israel. But it must occur in an evenhanded way, without self-serving historical revisionism. Yes, it’s important to point out that Jews have always yearned to be there and in fact have maintained a continuous presence there over the millennia, despite all the hardships involved. But part of the history involves the other peoples living in the land and how they were treated and what happened with them. The mainstream Zionist account hasn’t always been sensitive to these issues.

    In short, the best approach is to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Truth is a Jewish value. Sometimes the most staunch pro-Israel advocates, especially those lacking a deep faith, may have a tendency to substitute their ideological goals for Jewish values, and this tendency must be guarded against. Many of the founders of the state of Israel did not share the faith of their ancestors of centuries ago; they often were even anti-religious, and this helps explain many of the problems in modern-day Israel.

  • SeeGG

    Time for Canary Mission to take aim at JVP.

    • Quester59

      I.M.O., It’s high tie to REMOVE ALL MUSLIM TERRORIST & Supporters, From the face of this earth, once & for all!!

  • Hillel

    There is nothing worse than a self loathing Jew. It seems there’s an entire generation or more bred in the US due to comfort and complacency. Not unlike the situation in Germany, in particlar, in the lead up to jewish extermination.

    • Ron Jeffry

      Not just Germany but in the countries that ultimately had many collaborators with the Nazis. Soros is an amazing example of this.

    • Quester59

      Once removed from One’s Birth Environment, The Children soon forget their Heritage, Even when living among their fellows. The same problem exist with the animal kingdom, Animals taking from the wild & placed in Zoos, suffer from that removal of their homelands.
      In other words, When Eagles are placed in a yard full of Turkeys & Raised with them, after a short time, the Great Birds, tend to behave like the rest of the turkeys!