Jewish Antisemitism Isn’t Merely Durham’s Problem, but America’s
Imagine you are an Jewish-American parent raising Jewish children in a very pleasant American city. But then an extremist organization begins spreading hatred against Jews, Israel, and America.
This radical group tries convincing your fellow citizens that Jews are racists and ethnic cleansers. That Israelis are like Nazis. That loyal American citizens should be ostracized and targeted for their political beliefs. That college students should be boycotted if they are committed to the welfare of the Jewish state. That even school children should be taught about the murderous deeds of the Jewish people.
This is not what some white supremacist group has wrought in Durham, North Carolina (and elsewhere). In fact, this effort has been undertaken by an allegedly Jewish group — Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
Most recently, according to JVP activist Sandra Korn, the local JVP branch helped form the Durham2Palestine campaign as part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
This campaign was responsible for Durham’s widely publicized decision last month to bar any partnerships with Israeli police or the Israel Defense Forces. Except that the Durham Police Department never trained with Israel or had any plans to do so. JVP’s efforts were clearly a political campaign to delegitimize Israel, as well as incite hatred toward Jews in Durham. In essence, JVP devoted two years to convincing the city of Durham that training with Israel, which supposedly has “a long history of violence towards [people] of color,” helps local police forces “terrorize Black and Brown communities.”
What JVP was telling the people of Durham, in other words, was that Jews regularly perpetrate horrendous violence against people of color. If that isn’t incitement, then nothing is.
To make their point, activists from the local group — Triangle JVP — employed truly offensive “art” demonstrations celebrating notable antisemites and terrorists. During a rally in March, for example, the group erected a grotesque street museum that glorified the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, which has been responsible for countless suicide bombings and plane hijackings.
In another case, Triangle JVP members Sandra Korn and Lara Haft accused pro-Israel Jews of collaborating with Nazis:
Think about this for a moment. This allegedly Jewish group celebrates an organization dedicated to murdering Jews and then suggests that Jews who defend themselves by supporting the State of Israel are collaborators with the organization that exterminated six million Jews just two generations ago. Never mind the incoherent logic of this. These statements simply drip of Jew-hatred.
Similar JVP Jew-hatred has been clearly displayed elsewhere as well.
Last summer at Chicago’s Dyke March, JVP members harassed participants wearing the Star of David and demanded they be banned from marching. A few months later, JVP admitted to “carefully” choosing the main LGBTQ group marching in New York City’s Israel Day Parade for what ended up being an actual assault. According to several reports, seven JVP members “horrifically” bullied and “violently” harassed a peaceful LGBTQ group marching to show pride in their Jewish homeland. By singling people out for exclusion and abuse because they displayed their Jewish identity, JVP has gone from preaching hate against Israel to practicing textbook antisemitism.
To be clear, JVP is a fringe organization. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) puts it: “JVP uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of antisemitism and to provide the movement with a veneer of legitimacy.”
How did things spiral out of control in Durham? One key factor is that my Durham Jewish community has openly embraced JVP members for years. That’s right. Instead of shunning this antisemitic Jewish group, the Jewish establishment has allowed their activists into leadership positions in Durham’s Jewish organizations. For example, Sandra Korn and Laura Haft hold positions as “faculty” at the Durham/Chapel Hill Jewish Federation, and Korn holds a leadership position at Judea Reform Synagogue. According to public records, the Federation and Durham’s two main synagogues receive donations from supporters of the anti-Israel BDS movement, which perhaps explain this unfortunate situation.
Recently, the Durham Jewish Federation took a stand against antisemitic “hate speech.” Their board proclaimed, “Hatred and intolerance threaten core American and Jewish values and endanger Jews and other minorities nationally and locally.” Yet at the same time, they employ the very JVP activists who precisely practice this behavior. What our Federation and all others must realize is that by legitimizing JVP, they destroy our genuine efforts to combat antisemitism and protect Jews from ongoing slanderous and sometimes physical attacks.
Antisemitism is antisemitism, even when its perpetrators are Jewish.
Sloan Rachmuth is the North Carolina Chapter President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, an organization dedicated to creating dialogue between Christians and Jews in order to educate them about the dangers of antisemitism and the BDS movement in the US. Her work has appeared in Fox News, The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Jewish News Service, and other international media outlets.