Forward Thinking

Seeking to Outflank J Street on the Left

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Activists, including former J Street staffers, protested the Gaza war on July 28 under the name #ifnotnow. Jewish Voice for Peace is also looking to attract J Street supporters./Martyna Starosta Photo

As J Street and other liberal Zionist groups continue to support Israel’s war in Gaza, Jewish Voice for Peace is seizing an opportunity for gain new supporters at their expense.

After the Forward published a story this morning charting how J Street has taken a far more moderate approach to the current Gaza war than it did to Operation Cast Lead in 2008, JVP put a link to it on their Facebook page, with the tagline: “Our door is always open”

Jewish Voice For Peace takes positions outside of the American Jewish mainstream. The group backs aspects of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and was influential in supporting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s recent decision to divest from three companies alleged to profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a move strongly opposed by mainstream Jewish groups. In the current conflict, the group has been staging protests against Israel’s attacks in Gaza.

No mainstream Jewish groups have voiced similar condemnation of Israel in the current Gaza war.

“We have seen an enormous number of people flocking toward us right now,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, the group’s executive director. “I think more and more people are coming to us who want to express their opposition.”

According to figures provided by JVP, the group’s Facebook page has gained 50,000 “likes” since July 21.

J Street did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.


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