Jewish Voice For Peace 2017 National Membership Meeting

Susan Bramhall, Jewish Voice for Peace

Seven members of Jewish Voice For Peace New Haven traveled to Chicago to join over a thousand others at the semiannual national membership meeting of Jewish Voice For Peace (JVP) March 31 – April 2.

This year’s conference reflected the intentional efforts of JVP to become more inclusive and delve deeply into the implications of intersections with related social justice movements. Many speakers presented information on the underlying colonial and racist nature of the Zionist project leading us inevitably to understanding the many separate struggles as one movement with common goals.

The first day of the conference was devoted to the first-ever gathering of Jews of color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in solidarity with Palestine and in partnership with JVP (JOCSM). A general session presented by Ilise Cohen titled “Understanding Israeli State Racism and Hierarchy through Mizrahi History, Accommodation, Struggles, and Resistance” was an eye-opening tour of racism within the Jewish community. JOCSM and JVP stand in strong support of the #BlackLivesMatter Vision For Black Lives platform.

Growing out of this deepening connection is a new campaign that will be kicking into high gear this summer: Deadly Exchange. The project will focus on the deadly falsehood that violence against some communities will create security for others as has long been perpetuated by the policies of both the U.S. and Israeli government. The focus will be exposing and working to stop the training of U.S. police by Israeli forces in the art of occupation. And, yes, it happens in Connecticut as well as Ferguson and Atlanta. Stay tuned for more information.

A last note we’d like to share is that the New Haven chapter was honored to facilitate a well-attended train-the-trainers workshop on conducting Anti-Islamophobia workshops. We have just completed the second of these self-study sessions in partnership with members of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and hope to offer more in the future. Contact Newhaven@jvp.org for more information.

Videos of keynote sessions by Judith Butler, Linda Sarsour, Rasmeah Odeh and others are all available online at nmm.jewishvoiceforpeace.org.

Jewish Voice for Peace Gathering on Chanukah to Challenge Islamophobia and Fight Against Racism

by Shelly Altman, JVP New Haven

In this time of rising Islamophobia and racism, Jewish community members will gather at 5:30 p.m. on the Green at the corner of College and Chapel streets to publicly rekindle their commitment to justice during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, Dec 21. Activists of all faiths will gather holding nine signs listing commitments to fighting injustice in the shape of a Chanukah menorah.

This action is organized by the Network Against Islamophobia, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, inspired by the Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people. JVP chapters across the country will be participating on Dec. 21.

The election of Donald Trump has contributed to the already rising Islamophobia and racism in the United States, both on interpersonal and systemic levels. Hate crimes against Muslims were already on the rise and have been accelerating in the wake of the election. Existing policies of heightened surveillance and policing of Muslims and other communities of color as well as U.S. state violence against communities of color both domestically and internationally, will soon be augmented by the even more blatantly racist policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump.These include banning Muslim immigrants and limiting immigration from largely Muslim and/or Arab countries.

The members of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven believe that challenging Islamophobia and fighting against racism are part of our obligation within our communities and as partners in the broader struggle for justice and dignity for all peoples.

  • We refuse to be silent about anti-Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes
  • We condemn state surveillance of the Muslim community
  • We protest the use of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism to justify Israel’s repressive policies against Palestinians
  • We fully stand with the Vision for Black Lives Platform
  • We welcome Syrian refugees and stand strong for immigrants’ rights and refugees’ rights
  • We honor indigenous rights and support the courageous resistance led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protect their land and water.

Email: newhaven@jvp.org Online: http://www.jvpnh.org.

Ben Ehrenreich to Speak in New Haven Nov. 11

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) is partnering with Shalom UCC to present a book talk by Ben Ehrenreich on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 at the First Presbyterian Church in New Haven, 704 Whitney Ave. Ben is the author of the recently published book, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. His book was reviewed in the New York Times this past July. The review is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/17/books/review/ben-ehrenreich-the-way-to-the-spring-palestine.html.

Over the past three years, Ben Ehrenreich has been traveling to and living in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages, including Nabi Saleh, Hebron, and Umm al-Kheir. Along the way he has written major stories for American outlets, including a remarkable New York Times Magazine cover story, “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?”.

The book offers a first person view of life in the West Bank: the daily challenges, pain and triumphs of resistance while living under oppressive military occupation. Reviewer Andy Shatz wrote: “As heart-breaking as it is, The Way to the Spring is also a strangely joyful book, because Ehrenreich grasps the essence of the Palestinian struggle. It’s not Islam, nor even nationalism, but the stubborn refusal of injustice, the restless search for ‘how it would feel to be free.’”

Reach JVP New Haven on the web: http://www.jvpnh.org, by email: newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jvpnewhaven, or twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

Jewish Voice for Peace Film Series

Shelly Altman, JVPNH

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) is presenting a Film Series “From the Jordan River to the Sea: Israel-Palestine in Film,” starting Sunday, Jan. 24 and continuing to Friday April 1. Films will be screened on Sundays at 1 p.m. at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park St, Guilford and on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. at the Whitney Center Cultural Arts Center, 200 Leeder Hill Drive, Hamden. See film details at http://www.jvpnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/JVPNHFF1.pdf.

These films offer a human face to the news we hear about the contentious and often violent relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The films may shatter some myths and open a candid discussion about the reality of the Middle East.

  • The Other Son – Guilford Jan. 24 and Hamden Feb. 12
  • Salt of this Sea – Guilford Feb. 14 and Hamden Feb. 19
  • The Wanted 18 – Guilford Feb. 28 and Hamden March 4
  • Roadmap to Apartheid – Guilford March 6 and Hamden April 1

Last month, JVPNH conducted anti-Islamophobia vigils and lit the menorah in downtown New Haven on the fifth and eighth nights of Chanukah. This was part of an event echoed nationwide by over 15 chapters of JVP. The New Haven Register published an editorial the following week praising our action. See it at http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20151216/editorial-some-jews-leading-the-charge-against-islamophobia. JVPNH will be continuing its work countering Islamophobia. If you are interested in participating in this work, please contact us at newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org.
You can reach JVP New Haven on the web: http://www.jvpnh.org, by e-mail: newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or Facebook: jvpnewhaven, or twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

Report on Jewish Voice for Peace National Meeting

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Several members of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) New Haven chapter were among the 600 attendees at the bi-annual JVP national membership meeting in Baltimore, March 13-15. The weekend was filled with inspiring keynotes, fact-filled breakout sessions, hands-on workshops and planning exercises, and a somber and moving Jewish memorial service for those who lost their lives during the brutal assault on Gaza by the state of Israel this past summer.

A significant focus of the event was the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a non-violent call by over 150 organizations in Palestinian civil society for three actions by Israel: ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. The call is conditional on these, and includes an end to BDS once they are implemented. BDS is not punitive but simply a means to achieve Freedom, Equality, and Justice for Palestinians long denied these fundamental human rights.

While the Israeli election occurred 2 days after the end of the JVP meeting, the racist rhetoric of Benjamin Netanyahu, his promise to maintain the occupation indefinitely, and the endorsement of his values by the Israeli electorate only serve to raise the importance of using BDS as a tool to achieve human rights for Palestinians. Find out more about the BDS movement at http://www.bdsmovement.net.
Rabbi Brant Rosen of JVP spoke from the heart: “I’d like to suggest that a deeper understanding of this value [love of the Jewish people] should not stop at love just for fellow Jews. After all, while the word Yisrael does refer to the Jewish people, it also literally means ‘one who wrestles with God.’ Seen thus, we might interpret it as love for all who struggle, to love all who fight as we have for freedom and justice and tolerance in the world, to stand in solidarity with those who struggle against tyranny, and are beaten, imprisoned, tortured or killed for doing so…these are the members of our tribe, perhaps our most sacred tribe.”

Angela Davis concluded her stirring plenary by remarking “We are compelled to speak back with the voices of our humble solidarity, and one of the most important of these voices is Jewish Voice for Peace. Carry on!”

JVP New Haven contact info: web: www.jvpnh.org; email: newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org; facebook: jvpnewhaven; twitter:@jvpnewhaven.

Jewish Voice for Peace National Gathering in March

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) will be holding its bi-annual National Membership Meeting (NMM) in Baltimore on March 13-15. Over 500 activists united for human rights in Israel and Palestine will share experiences, discuss and debate, learn new skills, and strengthen the activist community.

JVP has grown from one modest local organizing group in Berkeley in 1996 to a national organization with 72 chapters across the country in 2015. New Haven’s JVP chapter formed in 2014, and will be represented by 7 attendees. JVP nationally has over 9,000 members and nearly 200,000 on-line supporters–people who are demanding equal justice for all, building dynamic new alliances, and transforming Jewish community.

The National Membership Meeting is called “We’re Not Waiting” because the phenomenal work and successes of the last year show that JVP is breaking through into the mainstream, and that no one’s permission is needed to stand up and put it all on the line now in the the fight for justice.

Attendees at the 2013 NMM found it transformative. The 2015 schedule includes plenary sessions with keynote speakers Angela Davis, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Sa’ed Atshan, representatives from Badil and Zochrot, Eran Efrati, and JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson. There are close to 50 breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics. Some examples: “From the Southwest Border to Palestine: Occupation, Militarization, and Resistance,” “Beautiful Trouble: Creative, Strategic Organizing Tactics, Tips, and Tools for Victory,” and “Theatre of the Oppressed: Building Solidarity by Recognizing our Privileges and Oppressions.”

Shabbat services will be held Friday and Saturday, with Havdallah marking the end of Shabbat on Saturday evening.

You can reach the New Haven JVP chapter at the following: www.jvpnh.org, email: newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org facebook: jvpnewhaven, twitter: @jvpnewhaven
We’ll be reporting back in a future PAR newsletter on the highlights of the NMM.