Millions of lives depend on it.
Jewish Voice for Peace was started in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay Area by three UC Berkeley undergrads as an all-volunteer Jewish peace group. In 2002, members decided to build a larger grassroots base that could one day change U.S. policies towards the region. Funds were raised then, as now, through a grassroots campaign focused mostly on small, individual donors.
JVP is a proudly Jewish organization committed to building and growing thriving Jewish communities and diverse Jewish cultures. The vast majority of our members and staff are Jewish and, like all Jewish families, we are blessed to have non-Jewish members and staff as well. We welcome Jewish people from all denominations, levels of practice, and affiliation who are drawn to JVP’s values, mission, and work.
All of our work represents a commitment to creating a future in which all Jewish people can live in safety and freedom. Our struggle to build Judaism beyond Zionism is not only an act of solidarity with Palestinians, but also a concrete commitment to creating that future for Jewish people.
Learn more about how to become a member.
As a Jewish organization, we understand deeply and personally the threat of antisemitism and believe that antisemitism is completely incompatible with any movement for collective liberation. We understand antisemitism as historically contextual, situated amidst interrelated conditions and struggles.
We fight antisemitism within, and as part of, broader struggles against oppression and for collective liberation. For instance, white nationalist violence has been on the rise in the U.S., fueled by anti-immigrant and racist manifestos, sentiments, and conspiracy theories, such as the “great replacement” theory. Jews are among the targets of white nationalist violence, along with Black people, immigrants, Muslims, and trans and queer people, among others.
Our safety is bound together with the safety of all people, and none of us is free if we aren’t all free. For more, you can see some examples of how we approach the work of dismantling antisemitism.
JVP has a specific, critical role to play in the movement for Palestinian liberation. As Jews, we work to answer the call of our Palestinian partners to build a Jewish movement that can effectively form a counterweight to Jewish Zionist support for Israeli apartheid. That often includes defending our Palestinian partner organizations, when they are accused of antisemitism for criticizing the policies of the Israeli state.
Our role in the movement for Palestinian freedom is to shake the U.S.-Israel alliance by fundamentally changing the financial, cultural, and political calculus of Jewish support for Israeli apartheid and for Zionism.
JVP is a grassroots, membership organization. Our dues-paying members elect a national board, who are responsible for overall stewardship of the organization, and who in turn hire/supervise an Executive Director. The Executive Director hires and leads a talented team of staff who run the day-to-day of the organization nationally.
This includes building the infrastructure for local organizing and developing and supporting the leadership of member-leaders who lead the vast majority of JVP’s organizing around the country.
Large organizational shifts or plans (including the current 5-year strategic plan, and past shifts in JVP’s political positions around Zionism and the BDS movement) happen in very intentional processes, including layered consultation with partners, local chapters, and our broader membership.
Many ongoing national decisions are made by a staff leadership team who are responsible for implementing our strategies and holding our multiple accountabilities as they do so.
We are funded by tens of thousands of individuals — people who share our vision of a world with safety and liberation for all. The majority of our annual budget comes from individual donors with an average donation of $60. Our generous member-donor community sustains our work and maintains our political independence.
Less than 15% of our annual operating budget comes from grants. The majority of our foundational giving is from small family foundations, progressive movement foundations, and progressive donor organizing funding networks. We do not have corporate or governmental funders at this time.
We’re a U.S.-based Jewish organization so we really don’t believe it is our place to tell Palestinians and Israelis what the best political outcome is toward a just, equitable, and sustainable peace. Instead, we are focused on building a Judaism beyond Zionism, and using our power and leverage as American Jews to end the Israeli government’s apartheid and violations of Palestinian human rights. We will not ignore decades of Israeli settlement expansion and the Israeli government’s consistent march toward Palestinian expulsion - It is our obligation to assert the vanishingly small likelihood of a two-state solution.
We are organizing following the leadership of Palestinians in their own movement for freedom and are working to end our own community and government’s one-sided support for Israeli apartheid and human rights violations.
We care deeply about Israeli and Palestinian life. The lives and fates of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis are intertwined, and we’re fighting for the safety that can only come when everyone is free. We come from a Jewish tradition that has for millennia opposed empire, colonization, and nationalism, that values every human life, and is rooted in social justice. We remain rooted in our beliefs that each and every life is precious, and that means ensuring the safety of Palestinian, Jewish, and all people everywhere. We envision a future where Palestinian and Jewish people live in safety with full equal rights.
Palestinians have been living under Israeli government oppression, dispossession, and colonialism for 75 years. Generations of Palestinian families have been refugees since the start of the Nakba in 1948. We fully support the right of people to return as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Peace will only be possible when the Israeli government acknowledges the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and negotiates a mutually agreed upon and just solution, based on principles established in international law including return, compensation, and/or resettlement.
Further, we believe that a just and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only happen through acknowledgement of the Nakba of 1947-9, which led to the creation of millions of Palestinian refugees.
To learn more:
Yes! JVP has proudly endorsed the Palestinian led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (more commonly known as BDS) against the Israeli government since 2015.
BDS is a principled, non-violent set of tactics led by Palestinian civil society and modeled after the international campaign that brought about an end to South African apartheid in 1994. It asks the international community to boycott, divest from, and/or sanction the Israeli government and entities complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights, until the Israeli government: 1) ends the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; 2) recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Boycotts, divestment campaigns, and targeted sanctions are time-honored social justice movement tactics that allow individuals, religious groups, student groups, unions, and others to press for change when governments fail to take action.
Boycott, divestment campaigns, and sanctions are tactics that have been used by many celebrated, nonviolent activists and minority groups to advance numerous social movements throughout history. These include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the South African anti-Apartheid Movement, the struggle for farmworkers rights, and efforts to end the slave trade in the 18th century in England.
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions are tactics that allow individuals, religious and students groups, unions, and others to press for change when governments fail to end human rights abuses.
Zionism and Anti-Zionism
Zionism is a form of Jewish nationalism, and is the primary ideology that drove the establishment of Israel.
People who consider themselves Zionist have different interpretations of what that label means in the present political moment, to them personally, and historically. But when people refer to “Zionism” today, political Zionism is often what they mean.
“Anti-Zionism” is a loose term referring to criticism of Israeli state policies, and/or moral, ethical, or religious criticism of the idea of a Jewish nation-state.
There has been debate, criticism, and opposition to Zionism within Jewish thought for as long as it has existed.
Jewish anti-Zionists span a political and religious spectrum, from religious and secular progressives who view opposition to Zionism as an anti-racist praxis, to ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose Jewish dominion until the time of the Messiah, to anarchist Jews who oppose the very concept of nation-states, Jewish or otherwise.
There are also many non-Jewish anti-Zionists whose perspectives may be informed by moral criticism of the policies of the Israeli government, problems with the impact of Zionist thinking in Israel on non-Jewish residents, and/or a criticism of ethno-nationalism more broadly.
Many Palestinians take anti-Zionist positions or identify as anti-Zionist because of the current and historical practices of the Israeli state.
We do our work to organize our people and we resist Zionism because we love Jews, Jewishness, and Judaism. Our struggle against Zionism is not only an act of solidarity with Palestinians, but also a concrete commitment to creating the Jewish futures we all deserve.
At its founding, JVP made a conscious choice as an organization to abstain from taking a position on Zionism, because we felt it closed off conversation in the Jewish community.
But our Palestinian partners had long theorized Zionism as the root cause of the Palestinian condition. More and more of our members not only agreed, but understood Zionism as damaging to Jewish identity and spiritual life.
In 2014, it became clear that we needed to clarify our position in order to effectively continue doing our work. Over the next few years, our process included education and discussion with our members, including major conversations at our 2017 National Member Meeting; surveys; consultations with our constituency groups including Rabbis, artists, and students; feedback from JVP staff, Palestinian members, activists and thinkers, along with feedback from Jewish people of color and Sephardi & Mizrahi Jews; and finally, a new position in 2018 drafted by our board.
Every human life is precious - whether Palestinian, Israeli or anyone else. We were horrified by the massacre committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, which were war crimes under international law. Many of our members lost loved ones, and we grieved deeply. We support and follow an international rights framework for a just and safe future for all. Under that framework, an occupied people have a right to resist, including the use of force. But the targeting of civilians is not permitted. The indiscriminate killing of civilians -- no matter by who -- is always unacceptable. You can see our statement to this effect.
We believe that the response to Hamas’ war crimes is not to bomb civilians indiscriminately in acts of collective punishment, in an onslaught that legal scholars argue meets the legal description of unfolding genocide. The answer is to address the root causes of oppression and captivity of Palestinians.
It is our fervent belief that Palestinians gaining their freedom is not only the only viable option for Palestinians, but in doing so, Israeli Jews will be safer too. The true path to safety is through every single person being able to exercise their rights to safety, dignity and freedom.
Our call for a permanent ceasefire is about saving lives. With every passing minute that the US refuses to call for a full and robust ceasefire, more Palestinians are being killed. Palestinians in Gaza have been incredibly clear on what they need in the moment: an immediate ceasefire. Ceasefire includes the diplomacy that will allow for full release of hostages, including Palestinians taken into prison without trial by Israel, and will allow us to begin to address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis inside Gaza.
We also are listening to the grieving families of those taken hostage by Hamas, families who have advocated for a permanent ceasefire and diplomatic negotiations to bring their loved ones home. Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza puts Israeli hostages at life-threatening risk. And the Israeli government has made it clear that they are prioritizing their genocidal campaign over the release of hostages. We believe that an immediate ceasefire is a moral imperative to save the lives of every person in Gaza, including hostages.
We recognize a ceasefire is not the end of this work — JVP has been organizing for Palestinian liberation for nearly 30 years and we are committed to this movement for the long-haul. We work closely with Palestinian-led movement organizations on the ground and in the U.S. to ensure we are being strategic, impactful, and accountable.
But I heard...?
When an organization grows to a certain size, some pretty wacky rumors begin circulating...
No, JVP is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) organization verified by the IRS. Our staff, membership, and donor base are overwhelmingly based in the United States. We comply with all U.S. legal and tax requirements, including annual audits.
No. Dr Hatem Bazian is a supporter of JVP but has never been employed by JVP in any capacity.
There has been an ongoing Islamophobic campaign against Dr. Bazian for many years, which some have tried to use by extension to undermine JVP’s work for justice.
Dr. Bazian is a Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the 1st Accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
JVP leadership, staff and membership is overwhelmingly queer and/or trans. We are committed to a future with safety and liberation for all, and see our work as inherently bound up in the liberation for all people — including trans and queer people and all marginalized sexuality & gender experiences.
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