November 2015

I wanted to make sure you know how we are responding to the enormously distressing escalation in Islamophobic rhetoric and scapegoating of refugees in the wake of the attack on Paris. As JVP Artist's Council member Aurora Levins Morales illustrated in this poem better than I ever could, the disparity in the public reaction to Paris, as compared to Beirut, or Mali, or Ankara, or Baghdad, is breathtaking.  

Early this week we put out a statement in solidarity with Muslim communities facing discrimination and oppression here in the U.S. and encouraging people to join our Network Against Islamophobia (Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo.). Throughout the week, story after story of Muslims being targeted on the streets, at school, on planes, and finally by Presidential candidates have been coming out, so our obligation to speak out both individually and as an organization is abundantly  clear.

In response to 28 Governors in the U.S. vowing not to allow Syrian refugees into their states, we put out a petition telling our own governors that refugees are welcome.  We are also supporting this petition from our allies at MPower Change (a coalition of Muslim grassroots organizations) saying yes to refugees, no to collective punishment. You can follow/support that effort by using the hashtag #LiftMyLamp.

And on Friday, after  the House on Thursday passed a shameful bi-partisan bill that would effectively end the admittance of  the pitifully few Syrian refugees who are now being let into this country, we asked our members to call their Senators to defeat the bill. It's not too late, you can still do the same--click here!

We also now have a page on our website specifically about the Syrian refugee crisis which includes basic facts, the specific situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria, and organizations where you can donate money to help refugees.

In more positive news, our artist's council has a beautiful new online gallery up--check it out here!

And the JVP Blog, in addition the poem and statement mentioned above, has some nice new entries about JVP-Milwaukee's recent action against AIPAC and the JVP student network statement of solidarity with the University of Missouri.  If you or your chapter or council is interested in submitting a piece to the blog, please email Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo..

Many of our chapters in California have been involved in the fight against the UC Regents adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel. JVP Academic Advisory Council member Chanda Prescod-Weinstein has a great article calling out the white leaders of UC Santa Cruz who are trying to use the struggle of Movement for Black Lives  as a way to silence pro-Palestinian activists who advocate for BDS. 

A report back from our week of action in DC when Netanyahu was visiting last week: In addition to the actions I mentioned in my last update,  our letter to CAP, co-sponsored by the Arab American Institute and signed by well over a hundred progressive leaders and organizations really helped shape the narrative around Netanyahu's visit to CAP--two of the best articles were in the Washington Post and Foreign Policy, but it was covered very broadly. 

And our D.C. Chapter was part of a broad coalition of organizations including the US Campaign, Code Pink, AMP, and over 30 other organizations that protested at the American Enterprise Institute while Netanyahu was receiving an award there. You can see a video here.

Finally, the Fall 2015 issue of Tikkun Magazine is out, featuring a special section on What's Next for Israel/Palestine, including pieces by me, JVP Board Member Rebecca Subar, JVP Rabbinical Council member Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, as well as pieces by JVP'ers Ian Lustick and in another section of the magazine, a piece by JVP'er Wendy Somerson, as well as essays by many others. 


In this hard time I can only return to a Grace Paley quote that I think of as one of the core precepts of JVP's existence: 

"The only recognizable feature of hope is action." 

All the work that so many of you are doing around the country gives me hope!



Rebecca Vilkomerson

Executive Director | Jewish Voice for Peace |  718.855.4515
NY Office: 237 Flatbush Ave. | Suite 451 | Brooklyn, NY 11217
California Office:  1611 Telegraph Ave | Suite 1020 | Oakland, CA 94612