Driving Wedge in the Jewish Community: Ties Between Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Open Hillel
In the United States, there are two visible organizations seeking to undermine Jewish communal support for Israel and widespread opposition to BDS and other forms of political warfare.
- Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), is a U.S.-based organization, which views itself as the “Jewish wing” of the Palestinian solidarity movement. The strategy, as stated by JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, is to create “a wedge” within the American Jewish community to generate the impression of polarization over Israel. The tactic is to dilute support for Israel in the Jewish community, toward the goal of reducing or eliminating the United States government’s economic, military, and political support for Israel.
- Open Hillel seeks to overturn Hillel International’s guidelines that proscribe partnering with anti-Israel groups or individuals. This campaign provides access and recognition to BDS supporters, such as JVP and Students for Justice in Palestine.
Some of the links between the two organizations:
- One of the stated reasons for the founding of the first branch of Open Hillel at Swarthmore College was “Jewish Voice for Peace not being welcome under the Hillel umbrella.”
- JVP’s 2015 publication “Stifling Dissent,” included a section to Open Hillel, describing the group as a “national student movement dedicated to eliminating the guidelines that restrict the expression of support for Palestinian rights in Hillel spaces.”
- In 2014, Vilkomerson and JVP Academic Advisory Council member Judith Butler spoke at Open Hillel’s inaugural conference. In January 2016, Butler was named to Open Hillel’s Academic Council.
- Open Hillel’s “Testimonials” page includes several video endorsements from a number of members of JVP’s Rabbinical Council. Brant Rosen is a member of the rabbinical councils of both organizations.
- At a 2015 speaking engagement, JVP’s Alice Rothchild referred to the growing coalition of likeminded Jewish groups: “We [JVP] tripled in size during the Gaza war. A group called If Not Now came out during the Gaza war demanding the Jewish communal organizations recognize the Gaza dead. We have the Open Hillel Movement.”
- A JVP-run site has featured posts condemning Hillel for “waging an all out PR war against the inspiring Open Hillel students.”