Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

11 Apr, 2014

Jewish Voice for Peace: What They Don’t Want You to Know (Academics Take Note)

The following Call to Action was issued by the activist group Jewish Voice for Peace on April 10. It is being circulated verbatim by Travel Impact Newswire in solidarity with the message.

Action Update

The right to criticize Israel is at stake on campuses across the country.

Boston-JVP rallies hundreds to defend SJP.
© Pat Westwater-Jong

Help us expand our network to protect to protect free speech

Take Action!

Facebook Twitter icon Forward

Dear Supporter,

Why? What are colleges protecting by banning student organizations that support Palestinian rights? What are legislators endorsing when they introduce resolutions condemning free speech in multiple states? And what can we do to defend basic freedoms against this unprecedented assault?

The answer is simple, Supporter, it’s about Israeli policy: Laws and practices that fundamentally, and thoroughly, deny academic freedom to Palestinians.

And one of the best ways to protect our rights – and stand up for those of Palestinians – is to help grow a network capable of winning these battles on every front.

Israel denies exit visas to Palestinian Fulbright grantees. Israel forbids Palestinian schools to teach about the Nakba. Israel is the gatekeeper for academics visiting their West Bank colleagues, frequently denying requests from critics of the Israeli Occupation.

But JVP has fought back, and we’re finding real success.

As the legislative season is coming to a close, I wanted to give you some notes from the field to show the inspiring work of our academic allies, chapter leaders and coalitions partners across the country.

To keep building our network of students, activists and academics for the fight ahead, we need you to reach out and spread the word.

In New York State, we helped defeat the first anti-boycott legislative push in the country. Through building powerful coalitions we mobilized to stall (maybe permanently) a bill backed by one of the biggest power players in the Assembly. The New York Times Editorial board came out slamming the legislation, following a meeting with our very own ED and coalition partners. Our NYC, Ithaca and Albany chapters all mobilized locally to educate legislators and mobilize opposition. And, we’re currently gathering “100 Jewish Voices” on video to tell our legislators to Vote No on any version of this anti-boycott legislation.

In Maryland, we did it again – defeating first a bill, then a resolution. This weekend we saw the results of our oppositions last-ditch attempts, hijacking the budget process to insert offensive language condemning boycotts, a time-honored tactic that effectively and non-violently brings about social change. In the end, this is a major victory, as neither stand-alone pieces of legislation had the support to pass.

JVP recruited strong testimony for both hearings on the bill, which were packed with opposition, and strongly dispelled false claims of anti-semitism. The Free Speech Free State coalition stirred up opposition in Annapolis, with a Washington Post editorial letters to the editor placed in all the major papers, and statements of support coming in from all corners, including Achbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

In Illinois we won in committee, putting an end to attempts to shut down free speech and criticism of Israeli policies. With a vote of 3-2, stopping the anti-boycott legislation from moving forward. The coalition also gathered 412 “witness slips” (memos of constituent opposition), and stirred up questions as to why proponents of anti-boycott bills are going after free speech.

In Pennsylvania we’ve gathered community support against a highly offensive resolution, affirming that criticism of Israeli government policy and the non-violent boycott movement are not themselves anti-Semitic, but rather legitimate and crucial responses to ongoing human rights abuses.

And we supported coalition efforts in Florida, which raised awareness of the growing dissent and critique of Israeli policies, even as a resolution with no teeth passed the house and moves onto the senate.

At the same time, we’ve turned out hundreds to support the Northeastern students threatened by the administration for standing up for human rights. Boston-JVP stood side-by-side with Students for Justice in Palestine, mobilizing on the ground push-back to censorship. And across the country our networks have responded by flooding the university with letters and calls.

Today, we’re asking you to invite 5 of your friends or colleagues to join our powerful and growing network of activists across the country.

Join me in fighting for academic freedom, and for the freedom of speech to say the things they’re so afraid of: that Palestinian academic freedom is incompatible with Israeli policies.


Alana Krivo-Kaufman
Northeast Field Organizing Fellow

Donate Now!

Contact Info:

Jewish Voice for Peace
1611 Telegraph Ave, Suite 550
Oakland, CA 94612