History As It Happens – Newsletter by Executive Director Stefanie Fox
I started this newsletter as a regular place to share analysis and updates, workshop organizing strategy, and lift up what is happening throughout our organization and the broader movement for Palestinian rights. Would love to hear your thoughts, now and always: firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 2021 – History as it Happens
We are watching history unfold. From Haifa to Silwan, from Oakland to Khan Younis, from Hebron to Brooklyn, Palestinians are building a new wave of unified resistance to ongoing Israeli apartheid and colonization. This is the next chapter in the struggle for Palestinian rights and freedom.
Our role is simple: to show up with everything we have. And that’s what we’ve been aiming to do. We’ve set our full hearts, minds, and efforts to raising the voices of Palestinians and pulling every lever we can to support and strengthen their struggle for justice.
I also want to share with you our organizing strategy.
Israel’s war on Palestinians—and the bravery and steadfastness of the Palestinian uprising, in the face of horrific violence—cracked open a moment of mass political awakening these past three months that have foremost required us to pour into the streets behind and beside our Palestinian partners. JVP chapters organized, co-sponsored, or led delegations to more than 100 demonstrations across the country. Our chapter leaders ran deescalation teams, locked down major streets, and played support roles while powerful local Palestinian leaders called on crowds of thousands to join in the struggle—and our visible Jewish presence helped to make it clear: anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.
We used the incredibly broad reach of our social media accounts—including our Facebook page, which is now the largest of any Jewish organization in the world—to amplify posts by Palestinians on the ground, to highlight the censorship of Palestinian activists by social media platforms, and to help people find local actions. More than 300,000 people used our nationwide map to find actions where they could show up with broken hearts and raised fists.
We also know our unique obligation in the movement: to welcome newcomers into the loving and politically clear Jewish anti-Zionist community we’ve been building for 25 years. As more and more Jews began asking hard questions about Israel, JVP chapters, our BIJOCSM (Black, Indigenous, Jews of Color, Sephardi & Mizrahi) network, the rabbinical council, and more were ready to receive them with events focused on welcoming new members, grounding them in the political moment, and helping them take their first actions in solidarity with the Palestinian stuggle.
Chapters hosted dozens of “Shabbat in the Street” events across the country. More than 700 New Yorkers joined the NYC chapter’s Shabbat actions, which featured a powerful rabbi- and member-led ritual space and culminated in escalating protests outside Congressman Chuck Schumer’s home. In Philadelphia, more than 100 people gathered for a Shabbat action in front of the home of a notorious settler organization donor.
We’ve released new and updated resources for political education, created a forum for members to support each other as they have difficult conversations in their communities, and have answered countless emails and DMs that say: I’m beginning to question the narratives I’ve always believed. Now what?
We have an opportunity to welcome Jewish newcomers to the movement, and reshape their grief and rage into community, solidarity, and action. We are in the rising crest of an incredible wave of change, and our responsibility as organizers is to insist that this wave doesn’t crash yet—that it keeps building. May’s mass political awakening must translate into strategic campaigning.
From direct actions at the offices and homes of settlement funders, to launching and winning campaigns to end the deadly police exchange programs between the U.S. and Israel, to heeding the Palestinian call to boycott the companies profiting from Israeli apartheid, our member leaders are using their hard-won organizing power to escalate from individual actions to effective campaigns.
In the same way, JVP Action is working with partners to pressure Congress at a remarkable scale. More than 40,000 people have used our tools to contact their representatives and demand that Congress take action to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations against Palestinians, with the ultimate goal of ending U.S. funding for the Israeli military. For decades, the U.S. has poured billions into Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. It’s our job to make that continued complicity impossible.
We cannot, must not, hold anything back from the solidarity required of us in this watershed moment.