The above facts may explain why the Anti-Defamation League has listed JVP as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups, saying that it is “fixated on . . . convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.”
The JVP Role in the BDS Movement
BDS is a movement that relies on libel and slander to delegitimize and attempt to destroy the Jewish state. Alan Dershowitz, in 2014, gave ten reasons that the BDS movement is immoral. One is that it “promotes false views regarding the nation state of the Jewish people, exaggerates its flaws and thereby promotes a new variation on the world’s oldest prejudice, namely anti-Semitism.” Another, he explained, is that it “refuses to acknowledge the historical reality that on at least three occasions, Israel offered to end the occupation [sic] and on all three occasions, the Palestinian leadership, supported by its people, refused to accept these offers.”
Yet, JVP, a group that professes to be a Jewish group (though, notably, one need not be Jewish to be a member) and its purported Rabbinical Council are at the forefront of the BDS movement. In June of 2014, for example, the JVP Rabbinical Council was instrumental in securing passage of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s resolution to divest holdings from three companies that do business with Israel. Thirteen members of the JVP Rabbinical Council signed their names to a letter to the PC(USA) in support of the resolution. Members of JVP and its Rabbinical Council also attended the PC(USA) General Assembly meeting, at which they reportedly made the following slanderous statements to the Church’s members:
- Israel subjects Palestinians to “biblical scale enslavement.”
- Israel is an apartheid state. . . .
- Israel controls all of Gaza’s borders.
- Israel forces Palestinians into cattle cages. . . .
- Israel tortures children as a matter of policy.
- Israel denies drinking water to Palestinians.
- Israel destroys the homes of Palestinians simply because they are Palestinian. . . .
- Israel holds Palestinians in “giant outdoor prisons” in the West Bank and Gaza.
The co-chair of the JVP Rabbinical Council, Brant Rosen, has also worked actively with the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church. His work included being interviewed for and subsequently defending the group’s book, “Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide.” The guide, according to JTA, blames a “pathology inherent in Zionism” for the ongoing regional conflict.
This year, three additional churches have debated measures similar to that of the PC(USA): The United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church. JVP wrote in support of the BDS proponents in the three churches, “Given the recent election of an extreme right-wing and anti-peace Israeli government, it is more apparent than ever that it will take outside pressure to move towards justice and peace in the region.”
The measure at the United Church of Christ passed – with a JVP staffer and a JVP Board member on hand to support it. As Miriam Elman, writing in the Legal Insurrection blog, explains, just as it did with the PC(USA) vote, “JVP provided critical cover at the [UCC] Synod debate by allowing those with anti-Israel agendas falsely to portray divestment as standing with the Jewish people in the form of JVP.”
JVP works closely on church divestment with a Palestinian Christian group called Sabeel. According to NGO Monitor, Sabeel promotes “deicide imagery” – that is, the idea that the Jews killed Jesus. Twenty-two members of JVP’s Rabbinical Council – including several claiming to hold Reform or Conservative ordinations – wrote to Sabeel in 2012 to offer “solidarity” to the group.