JVP rabbis teach Torah of Divestment at hotel as Smotrich speaks at Israel Bonds fundraiser


Jewish Voice for Peace members and allies made their voices heard in DC and across the country — Divest from Smotrich and Israeli apartheid

Washington DC — As far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich fundraised for apartheid at the Israel Bonds conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel, JVP rabbis and students attempted to take over the hotel’s atrium, planning to transform it into a Beit Midrash (house of study) and teach the Torah of Divestment.

JVP Rabbinical Council member Rabbi Ariana Katz:

“The policies of Smotrich and the Israeli government are antithetical to Jewish teachings, which repeatedly call for justice for all. We are here to tell Smotrich, and all those who advocate pogroms and incite hate, that we will not be silenced while you fundraise for apartheid.”

After they were forced out of the hotel by security, seven JVP rabbis and rabbinical students, flanked by a dozen JVP members, took the Torah of Divestment outside to the streets. Holding a banner proclaiming “Apartheid is funded here,” the rabbis cited passages from the Torah and explored how to apply them right now, as Israeli state violence against Palestinians is at a record high.

JVP Rabbinical Council co-founder Rabbi Alissa Wise:

“The American Jewish community is at a crossroads. Right now, at kitchen tables and on the steps of shuls, people are asking ‘How can I buy Israel Bonds when members of the Israeli government are calling for pogroms against Palestinians?’ And we are here to say: ‘The Torah is clear. You don’t. You divest. Come talk to us — we’re so glad you’re here’.”

Over a hundred members of Jewish Voice for Peace – Metro DC chapter and allies protested outside the hotel hosting the Israel Bonds fundraiser. Holding signs that said: “Smotrich funds apartheid with our money – DIVEST” and “Jews for BDS,” anti-Zionist Jews and friends funders demanded an end to the oppression of Palestinians in their names.

Evie Frankl, member, Jewish Voice for Peace – DC Metro:

“As anti-Zionist Jews, we’re here to call for immediate divestment from Israeli apartheid and Israel bonds. That means no money going to a state that assists in pogroms on Palestinian villages and makes genocidal threats. Smotrich’s appearance at the Israel Bonds conference makes it more clear than ever — support for Israel bonds is support for Israeli apartheid. It’s long past time to divest.”

Meanwhile, all day long on Sunday across the country, from New Haven to LA to Boston to Seattle, over a dozen Jewish Voice for Peace chapters demonstrated against Smotrich’s fundraising for apartheid. Gathering in front of offices that sell Israel Bonds, they held posters calling for divestment and an end to U.S. military funding to Israel. 

Stefanie Fox, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace:

“Our outrage at Smotrich includes a determination to end our own complicity in the system he represents. We can stop the flow of money and support backing Israeli Apartheid: from the U.S. congress sending nearly $4 billion a year in taxpayer dollars to the hundreds of states, cities, unions, and organizations that invest in Israel Bonds. And as American Jews, we call on our communities and organizations to root out our own ongoing complicity in this government set on pursuing Jewish supremacy and domination. From the Israel Bonds we got when we turned 13, to the investments of Jewish Federations, the choice is clear: divest now.”

Smotrich is a Jewish supremacist extremist with genocidal beliefs, who recently said that the Palestinian village of Huwara, which was attacked by a violent Israeli settler mob while the Israeli military prevented access to medics, should be “wiped out.” 

Jewish Voice for Peace members demand divestment because the money Israel Bonds raises for the regime is used to support its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel Bonds make up 25% of Israel total foreign debt. Smotrich’s appearance at the Israel Bond conference makes it abundantly clear — buying Israel Bonds is supporting Israeli apartheid.

American Jews say enough is enough. It is time to divest from Israel, and its extremist, far-right, violent occupation of Palestinian land. 

JVP rabbis, staff and members are available to speak with the media.


the Wire

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