Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Our Relationship with Alison Weir
On May 5th Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) communicated with Alison Weir our decision to formalize an internal policy not to work with her. We subsequently communicated this decision to our chapter leaders. Since Alison Weir and If Americans Knew (IAK) have chosen to publicly attack JVP in response, we are writing to offer more detail about what led to our decision.
In our letter to Weir we communicated that we have chosen not to work with her because our central tenet is opposition to racism and oppression in all its forms, and she has consistently chosen to stay silent when given the opportunity to challenge bigotry, which we find repugnant.
There is a fundamental difference between engaging with oppressive beliefs in order to challenge them, and tacitly or directly endorsing those beliefs without challenge.
Weir has been a repeat and friendly guest of white supremacist Clay Douglas on his hate radio show, the Free American. Clay Douglas is concerned primarily with the survival of the White race and sees malign Jewish influence everywhere. His racist, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay rhetoric can be found across the front pages of his multiple websites.
In the course of Weir’s appearance with Clay Douglas on August 25, 2010, for example, she was silent when Douglas invoked the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and engaged in a racist diatribe against Jews. Her troubling associations and choices further include giving interviews to a range of far-right outlets including The American Free Press, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group, and the anti-gay, anti-Jewish pastor Mark Dankof.
Not only have we not seen evidence that she has disavowed, debated, or challenged the thinking of any of these outlets or institutions, Weir has made clear in her response to our letter that she will proudly continue her practice of pursuing airtime on white supremacist radio shows and other such outlets without refuting, debating, or otherwise decrying their racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic beliefs. She is entitled to continue this strategy, just as we are entitled to decide not to work with her.
We know full well that the Israel lobby uses false and misleading accusations of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israeli policies. We have called out that tactic time and time again and stood in defense of those who have been wrongly maligned with this accusation. Nevertheless, this does not mean that all accusations of anti-Semitism are unfair. Indeed, we have long warned that the political conflation of all criticisms of Israeli policy with anti-Semitism make it harder and harder to call out actual anti-Semitism when it does occur.
Our objection to Weir’s unwillingness to challenge or confront bigotry is rooted in the organizational values we hold most dear. JVP is part of a broad progressive movement that makes the connections between the struggle in Israel/Palestine and all struggles aimed at justice, dignity, freedom, and equality for all–from the Black Lives Matter Movement to the struggle for immigrant rights, from work against mass incarceration to opposing US militarism around the world, and many others. Thus we are not interested in making common cause with individuals or groups who do not share those values. We are not progressive only on Palestine–our work on Palestine is in fact a specific reflection of our broader values.
In contrast, Weir and IAK have a fundamental political framing that the U.S. is not implicated in the same racist and white supremacist structures as Israel. This __tail wags the dog__ theory is a form of chauvinistic nationalism that absolves American interest in perpetuating injustice–not just in Israel but in other regions around the world.
For example, in IAK__s __Our Story__ on their website it reads:
[Alison Weir] founded an organization to be directed by Americans without personal or family ties to the region who would research and actively disseminate accurate information to the American public.
In other words, according to Weir and If Americans Knew, only non-Arab, non-Muslim, non-Palestinian, and non-Jewish voices can be trusted to speak the truth, based solely on their ethnic or religious identity.
Notions of objectivity are routinely used to discredit the experiences of those most directly affected by oppression. But no one is objective, least of all Americans who benefit from the U.S. government’s destructive interventionist and white supremacist policies around the world.
Despite her support for Palestinian rights, Weir ultimately does a disservice to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, which is firmly rooted in the universal values of justice, equality and freedom. We believe we should not and cannot win by endorsing or tolerating any form of hate, whether against People of Color, queer and trans people, Jews, Muslims or anyone else.