March 18, 2016

It's so nice to have so much good news to share!  

The last two weeks have seen some remarkable advances in the BDS movement. 

First of all, last week, G4S announced that it is leaving Israel completely, as well as withdrawing from juvenile detention centers in the U.S.  The frame in the press was that G4S was withdrawing from "reputationally damaging" work, crediting the ongoing worldwide pressure on G4S from campaigns on virtually every continent over the last several years.  We are proud of our own contributions to this win, in particular the work of JVP-Triangle NC chapter, which played a key role in an interfaith coalition which got the city of Durham not to renew a contract with G4S last year.

On the very same day, Ahava announced that its factory is leaving the West Bank, after a concerted seven year campaign by our friends at Code Pink.

In both cases these are partial victories--in the case of G4S, we will need to monitor to make sure that the company follows through on its plans, and Ahava is re-locating inside of Israel--but they are nevertheless landmark victories that show that the BDS movement can have a critical impact on some of the largest multi-nationals in the world. 

And yesterday we celebrated when we learned that the Portland Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC), after a concerted campaign by Occupation-Free Portland, in which our Portland chapter plays a leading role, has put Caterpillar on a "do not buy" list.  Congratulations Portland!  The next step of the campaign will be when the SRIC makes a formal recommendation to the City Council.

In news of ongoing campaigns, last week also marked a milestone in our ongoing campaign against AirBnB.  140,000 signatures were collected by a broad coalition on a petition and delivered to AirBnB offices in San Francisco, London, Paris, and Portland, demanding that AirBnB stop profiting from homes being rented out in Israeli settlements. Stay tuned--we're not giving up on this one!

The other big campaign heating up is at the University of California Regents.  Since last summer there has been an ongoing battle as the University debates proposed "principles of tolerance." Unfortunately, this conversation has largely been driven by Amcha, an extreme right-wing organization that has advocated blacklists of professors in its efforts to silence the debates on Israel on campus.  The new proposed regulations, published this week, call anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism and discrimination. This is a disastrous contention that would have a terrible chilling effect on students and faculty. More importantly, it would essentially put criticizing Israel, a state, on a par with anti-Jewish hatred.  This is a dangerous precedent that could affect activists nationwide.

Luckily, the danger is clear, and on Friday the LATimes editorialized against the draft.  Rabbi Brant Rosen also has a powerful op-ed in Ha'aretz today pointing out the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  We'll have a strong presence at the meeting when they consider the principles on March 23rd, and meanwhile, if you want to lend your support, you can send an email to the Regents here.

And while we're speaking of campuses, check out this piece in Ha'aretz that profiles many JVP students and the growth of the movement on campuses generally.  Despite the rather snide tone in the introduction, the voice and moral clarity of the students really shines through. 

And of course, we are continuing to gear up against the bills all over the country which are threatening our #righttoboycott.  If you'd like a brief introduction, you can watch this "livecast" which was broadcast on Facebook this past Wednesday (an experiment which is apparently the future of social media, it was quite an experiment!) of me talking about the impact of the bills and how we're fighting back, along with partners the US Campaign and Palestine Legal. Check out if you want to see what's happening in your state, or write to if you'd like to get involved with fighting a local bill. 

As the AIPAC conference starts this weekend, we'll also have mobile ads in D.C. and in several states with active bills driving around the cities proclaiming the right to boycott.  

Jewish Voice for Peace is a 501-c-3 organization and we do not support or endorse any candidates. We do, however, regularly participate in protests at the annual AIPAC conference to call attention to the fact that the Israeli policies AIPAC supports are an affront to the values of justice, dignity and equality that we struggle towards. This year, we are appreciative of many of the Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and individuals who plan to protest Trump at AIPAC because he does not reflect their values. We hope that they will also consider confronting how Trump’s proposed policies and statements are reflected already in Israel’s policies that AIPAC supports.  See our full statement here.

A few more small announcements:

Every morning before 9 am, our media coordinator, Naomi Dann, sends out an invaluable news roundup of articles of interest. To sign up to receive it go here.

And keep an eye out for materials for Passover coming from our Rabbinical Council on April 1st, and for a member drive coming up in May!

Finally, a personal note. As soon as I press send on this update i'll be off to celebrate my oldest daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Some members of the Bay Area chapter (who at the time were the entirety of JVP) may remember me coming in to a monthly meeting and announcing my pregnancy (probably a bit too soon--I was just too excited!). It's hard to believe I've been doing this work in various capacities her whole life. I feel so proud and grateful as she grows up to be able to create for her a Jewish community that embodies the values that are most dear to me, most especially that of pursuing justice. Thank you so much for being part of that.