Young Jews Challenge American Jewish Leadership At Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans

PRESS RELEASE Jewish Voice for Peace, Israelis and Palestinians: Two Peoples, One Future
www.jvp.org
www.YoungJewishProud.org

Contacts:
Antonia House, 646-541-3174
Matan Cohen: 917-460-6350
Eyal Mazor: 408-718-2942

Young Jews Challenge American Jewish Leadership At Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans.

Disrupt Bibi Netanyahu speech to say Israel’s own behavior is making
it a pariah, student and peace groups that are trying to stop
Israeli human rights violations

[November 8, 2010, New Orleans] A group of young Jews with the Young
Leadership Institute of Jewish Voice for Peace has traveled to the
largest gathering of Jewish leaders in the US, the Jewish Federation
General Assembly, to confront leaders on an approach to saving
Israel’s reputation and building young Jewish identity they say
actually turns young Jews away.

Five of the young adults, including 3 Israelis and Israeli–Americans,
are disrupting a speech this morning by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi
Netanyahu with banners that said:

YoungJewishProud.org and

and one of the below-

The Settlements Delegitimize Israel
The Occupation Delegitimizes Israel
The Siege of Gaza Delegitimizes Israel
The Loyalty Oath Delegitimizes Israel
Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel

The young Jews’ website, www.YoungJewishProud.org,  presents the
group’s Young Jewish Declaration, a compelling vision of collective
identity, purpose and values written as an invitation and call to
action for  peers who care about Israel and Palestine. It is also a
strong challenge to elders.

These actions are in part a protest of the Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA) and Jewish Public Affairs Council (JCPA) newly
announced $6 million dollar program to target campus, church, peace
and human rights groups that are working to end Israel’s human rights
violations through nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
pressure campaigns. The Federations and JCPA are calling this
initiative the “Israel Action Network.”  Critics say it is a “Shoot
the Messenger” approach.

“We’re here to call out the elephant in the middle of the room. Israel
continues to expropriate Palestinian land for Jewish-only
communities,passes increasingly racist laws in the Knesset, the
foreign minister wants to strip Palestinian citizens of their
citizenship — these are the reasons Israel is becoming a pariah in
the world, NOT the human rights groups that are using nonviolent
economic pressure to hold Israel accountable. We would be dismissing
the values we were raised on if we did not speak up.”

Eitan Issacson, Israeli-American, Seattle

“The Jewish establishment thinks that all we want are free trips to
Israel and feel-good service projects. That is in insult to our
intelligence and to the Jewish values we were brought up on. What we
want is for the American Jewish community to stand up and say that
Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights are wrong and
that we will not continue to support it with our dollars, our
political strength and our moral abilities. We are the next generation
of American Jews, proud of our heritage, strongly committed to Jewish
life. We live our Jewish values in opposing Israel’s human rights
violations and we invite – no, implore –all Jews to join in this
urgent struggle.”

Hanna King, Swarthmore College, Philadelphia

“We were surprised by how many other young Jews were enthusiastic
about the perspective that we brought to the General Assembly. It was
scary to ask questions of sometimes hostile panelists, but in fact
many people our age were supportive and even asked their own critical
questions. We realized this is a terrific opportunity to organize.”

Antonia House, graduate student, NYU

“Right now, the choice for those of us who care about the future of
Israel and Palestine is between the status quo— which includes
continued settlement expansion, the siege of Gaza, and the racist
Israeli foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman– or Boycotts, Divestment
and Sanctions. Given that choice, Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions
will win every time.”

Matan Cohen, Israeli, Hampshire College

The students also announced the creation of a spoof Birthright Trip
called Taglit-Lekulanu http://taglit-lekulanu.org/, Birthright for
All, open to Palestinian and Jewish-Americans which they followed up
with a spoof denial. The goal of the spoof was to highlight the
one-sided narrative that Birthright presents, the ways it renders
Palestinians invisible. The rebuttal laid bare the problematic
assumptions underlying Birthright such as the emphasis on marrying
Jews and procreating. http://taglit-lekulanu.org/

Participants in the institute include students from schools as diverse
as UCLA, NYU, UC Berkeley, Hampshire, and Swarthmore.

A new Jewish Voice for Peace campus chapter was recently started at
Brandeis University.

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