JVP has disassociated from a number of activists working for the liberation of Palestinians, including Gilad Atzmon, Greta Berlin (founder of Free Gaza) and now Alison Weir, who seeks to disseminate unbiased information about IP through her website If Americans Knew.org and presentations. JVP’s recent public statement concerning Weir specifically, credited to Anonymous, is a confused document. I examine some parts of this statement. Gilad Atzmon has commented insightfully on this public statement already and I will simply try to add to his work.
Alison’s mistake was her appearance on 'Clay Douglas’s white supremacist radio show' five years ago. JVP’s statement throws down the anti-racist gauntlet “… Clay Douglas is concerned primarily with the survival of the White race and sees malign Jewish influence everywhere. His racist, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay rhetoric can be found across the front pages of his multiple websites.” Yet, transcribing this pronouncement suggests a very different racism: “JVP is concerned primarily with the survival of the Jewish race and sees malign gentile influence everywhere. JVP’s racist, anti-gentile rhetoric can be found across its website, including ideological statements condemning “Americans,” and assaults on other activists who step outside its boundaries.” Alison is further cited for failing to defend Jews when Douglas launched into The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. As Gilad notes, Alison has no duty to defend Jews, especially given her devotion to Americans, as such. In JVP’s estimate, Alison’s error is all the more grievous since “Americans” are now the bad guys regarding IP, an important distinction in rejecting Alison’s work.
Unsurprisingly, divorce from these activists is not the end of the line. The organization continues to assault them with behind-the-scenes character assassinations and interventions to forestall their speaking engagements. Alison Weir reports several such instances of JVP interference and Atzmon documents the outspoken attempt of the Denver JVP to stop his appearance there. These efforts are disturbing to some JVP members who did not envision interfering with the free speech of other activists dedicated to Palestine at the behest of JVP’s Jewish board. JVP is now in the dirty business of judging, condemning and punishing Palestinian allies for not treating Jews or “Jewishness” with political correctness. This is probably the fate of all self-identified “Jewish” groups
As Gilad notes, JVP finds something suspicious in Alison Weir’s statement of intent for her website. This harmless statement
[Alison Weir] founded an organization to be directed by Americans without personal or family ties to the region who would research and actively disseminate accurate information to the American public.
is identified as racist because of its exclusions, a very cheap shot, in my opinion. And what then would we think of this hypothetical version:
Anonymous founded an organization to be directed by Jews with personal and family ties to the region who would research and actively disseminate accurate information to the American public.
Alison errs by insisting on diverse American researchers instead of Jews. Maybe this is just a labor dispute.
JVP’s statement proposes a progressive program which does not begin or end with IP but rather seeks continuation and long life by engaging other cases of injustices credited to, and sustained by US policies and practices across the globe. It is not happenstance that this expanded political program focused on global injustices has the virtue of placing the injustice of IP in the company of other troubling injustices credited to the craven, acquisitive very bad “American” people. The American people, after all, benefit from these abiding injustices, as in Saudi Arabia now or throughout South America routinely over the last century. JVP would like us to believe that Americans must also benefit from US support for the criminal Zionist regime in Israel, as though this support issues from the same base motives as the other instances. Were this true, then the American people are proper enablers of the oppression of Palestinians. In this schema, the American dog properly wags the American dog.
Unfortunately, the model doesn’t explain much about IP. Israel is not sustained by the American people for the sake of the benefits accruing to them because there are no such benefits. It’s an interesting game, if one has time, to try to find such a benefit. Scholars have given up in disgust while others venture that America seeks some unspecified strategic position from its support of Israel, but every such framing is really unconvincing. On net, Israel is just a very expensive adjunct to American power. American taxpayers fork over truly astonishing sums to the Zionists, directly and indirectly, and derive no benefit from so doing.
JVP’s broad attribution of cause to the bad Americans begs the question. We know why the US supports and sustains this particular injustice. The US does so because it is subjected to an army of well-heeled Zionist fellow travelers who work to influence the Congress, mostly through campaign contributions and other incentives, to provide such support. Certainly, it is very expensive to impact US legislators, media and institutions, but then again, consider the largesse of US taxpayers. The army consists of American Jews, American Jewish civil organizations, most American Jewish temples and synagogues, Zionist organizations, Christian Evangelicals and some defense contractors who have a bottomless interest in conflict. The model which attributes injustice in IP to “Americans”, their perfidy and exploitation, is disingenuous and indefensible. The proximal immediate cause for American support of Israel is the Jewish Lobby plain and simple. The pro Israel tail wags this American dog.
The effort to offload responsibility for the crimes of Zionism onto the “American people” is not just inadequate, but repugnant as well. Zionism is a creature of the Jewish people, not the American people. The Jewish people, its organizations and “helpers” are important accessories to the Zionist program and share responsibility for its dubious successes, especially its success in the obliteration of another people. Agents of the Jewish people are responsible for US support and this is well known and well documented. JVP’s theory, however, might be construed to provide fellow American Jews relief from the onus of the “Jewish power” accusation, the mere suggestion of which is considered anti-semitic no doubt. This nifty “two step” won’t do: The American people, their legislators, their institutions have been thoroughly compromised by the Lobby and JVP will not get away with doubletalk about this.
By taking sides in the struggle in IP “as Jews”, American Jews created a political identity out of their alleged ethnicity. It is therefore fair to suggest that Jewish power and its allies continues to tie the US to Israel, continues to tie, in JVP terms attributed to Clay, US white supremacist racism -- specifically Jewish supremacist racism -- to Israeli supremacist racism and its unacceptable consequences. The disingenuous attempt to sidestep the relationship of Jews worldwide to Zionism in our time, to subsume this powerful dynamic under the umbrella of American interests, to undertake such a huge displacement of moral/ethical culpability, places JVP squarely in the pack of other Jewish organizations who fret about “what’s good for the Jews” first and foremost and which end up defending the Zionist “no choice” sanctimony.
As Atzmon demonstrates, JVP does not escape racism by proclamation. It does not free itself from racist taint simply by saying it is opposed to all racism, not when it continues to act according to its own racist conceits, e.g. Alison Weir somehow owes it to the Jews to defend them against Clay Douglas or when it condemns white Americans for caring about white Americans, while focusing itself so obviously on what is good for the Jews. As currently constituted, JVP is not fit to join, much less lead, any progressive coalition because it will not face Jewish responsibility for IP forthrightly.
*The Author of this article is an American JVP activist. Ned Rosenberg isn't his real name. Being a dissident voice within JVP is proven to be a dangerous adventure.