Jewish Voice for Peace Deters Positive Discourse
November 17, 2017
On Nov. 8, NYU Jewish Voice for Peace, along with 26 other clubs, issued an open letter to the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life denouncing the NYU Israel Experience trip. The trip takes two dozen NYU student leaders to Israel in January in an attempt to foster inclusivity and introduce students to the reality of life in Israel. A coalition of student groups on campus, however, has pledged not to participate in or apply to the NYU Israel Experience in solidarity with the Palestinian human rights movement. A large coalition, which includes the NYU College Democrats, Queer Union and countless other student groups, speaks to the widespread approval of the letter among NYU constituents. Ultimately, JVP dishonestly adheres to the principles of intersectionality when it attempts to construct artificial coalitions between groups such as the Queer Union , Muslim Christian Dialogue at NYU and NYU Freedom for North Korea that share no common ground in regard to Israel.
Perhaps what is most striking is the NYU College Democrats’ agreement with the letter. The Democrats’ action is a testament to JVP’S efficiency and underscores the danger NYU Israel Experience alliance poses to open discourse. This sort of branding threatens to stifle political debate and forces those who are both Zionist and progressive to choose between these two fundamental and mutually exclusive values. Additionally, by tokenizing its Jewishness, JVP undermines and even shames fellow Jews who do not share its opinions. This incident is a part of JVP’s strategic efforts to stymie meaningful dialogue and target those who do not share its view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In another instance, TorchPAC, NYU’s Israeli Political Advocacy Club, announced that it was bringing Tzipi Hotovely, an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset, the unicameral national legislature of Israel, to speak on campus. The deputy minister was on a speaking tour of American university campuses to hear about the challenges faced by activists and Jewish students and to push back against the falsehoods being disseminated about the Jewish state. Amid pushback from JVP, TorchPAC asserted its stance as an open forum for political discourse and denounced the notion that Hotovely’s presence on campus was an endorsement of her policies. TorchPAC hosted a debrief the following week where meeting attendees discussed their thoughts about the speech and expressed their own opinions in conjunction. This form of censorship indicates JVP’s commitment to silencing those whose political beliefs differ from their own.
JVP views itself as an organization of “activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice and human rights,” according to its mission statement. It is increasingly important that NYU’s JVP internalizes these core values instead of suppressing open discourse.
Bobby Miller is a fellow for CAMERA — an organization that grants fellows a stipend for conducting Israel advocacy on college campuses.
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