Defending Israeli Apartheid ≠ Fighting Antisemitism
This is a Jewish Voice for Peace letter from Ari Wolfeiler. It is a warning that the Senate passed an act that makes criticism of Israel an antiSemitic act. That is a lie, and this is a shameful act on the part of the US Congress. Please contact your Senator with links below and support overturning this destruction of free speech.
On Friday, without a single Senator in the Senate Chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act.
Judging by the title, it seems a reasonable enough piece of legislation. And the Anti-Defamation League was one of its main boosters.
But let’s look closer with a short pop quiz about why the ADL is behind this bill:
a) To make it clear that actual neo-Nazis like the National Policy Institute, now in close proximity to power, are going to face real scrutiny and condemnation?
b) To help prevent more violence against synagogues and Jewish people, like the dozens of instances of hate crimes and vandalism documented since the election?
c) To protect the Israeli government from student protesters?
Probably the best way to figure out why the ADL supports it is to read what they’re saying themselves:
Sadly, the answer is “C.”
At a time when actual violence and bigotry against Jews is on the rise, Jewish institutions like the ADL are seizing the moment to… protect Israel from student protesters. That's not acceptable.
We have to make sure Congressional reps hear from a more equality-focused perspective. Click here to send them a note urging them not to be fooled by the ASAA’s title. Enough pretending that defending Israeli policies is the same as fighting antisemitism. It’s time to get down to the actual business of protecting us all - especially Muslims and people of color - from hate.
I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. "Leading" Jewish institutions have made it clear to they care more about defending Israel’s racist policies than the real slog of fighting antisemitism. Student activists -- Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Black, documented, white, and otherwise -- pose no threat to Jews. The only threat they pose is to the culture of silence around Israeli apartheid.
Attempts to silence human rights activists are always appalling. But in this time of crisis, when actual antisemitism is seeping from our political discourse and into our streets? That is truly disgusting.
As Jews and allies we have an outsized voice on this one. Please, click here now and help fight this Orwellian legislation in the House.
And here’s another example: Rep. Keith Ellison is running to become Chair of the DNC. As a 501c3, JVP takes no position on any election, but I will say this: I’ve met Rep. Ellison, and he’s a good and honorable man, utterly devoted to fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism. But he’s also dared to offer modest criticisms of Israeli policy, always condemning hatred at the same time.
For that, he’s been railroaded and smeared by far-right Islamophobic front groups. And here again, the ADL is carrying water for these hatemongers by lending their name and their weight to the attacks against him.
The ADL’s support for the “Antisemitism Awareness Act” and their attacks on Keith Ellison are both proof that their commitment to fighting hatred is an empty shirt. They’re not interested in really taking on antisemitism and islamophobia. They’re only interested in shilling for Israeli apartheid.
But their attacks get listened to, because Congress thinks they speak for the whole Jewish community. Show that they don't -- click here to email your Representative.
If “leading” Jewish organizations want to place their loyalty to shameful Israeli policies above the urgent fight against islamophobia and antisemitism, we’re going to have to step up.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters have made it quite clear that the fight against islamophobia and antisemitism go hand-in-hand. But the ADL isn’t stepping up to the plate -- they’re too busy condemning students who dare to criticise Israeli apartheid.
That leaves space for JVP. We can be the Jewish organization that takes on our fair share of that work -- the hard but vital work of fighting antisemitism and Islamophobia, wherever it exists.