Here’s one organization that’s spent quite a bit of time in the news lately: Young, Jewish, and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace. Their event “Go and Learn: Join Young Jews for Community BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] Education” stirred controversy back in May when it was abruptly canceled by the 14th street Y less than two days before it was to take place. The director of the Y cited concerns about over-capacity attendance, even though only 40 had reserved space in a room with a 75-person capacity. The YJP organizers went ahead with the event and held it outside instead. YJP stated in their press release that the cancellation “is emblematic of a larger trend of silencing discussion on Palestinian nonviolent movements within the Jewish community” that “runs counter to our great tradition of free inquiry and passionate debate.”
Young, Jewish and Proud also paired up with Occupy Wall Street for Occupy the Occupiers: A Jewish Call to Action to “stand up to the 1% in our own community – the powerful institutions that support Israel’s corporate-backed military control of the Palestinian people and act as the gatekeepers for our community.” YJP criticizes the institutions that try to placate young Jews with parties or free trips to Israel, but that ignores or silences their voices when they start raising uncomfortable questions about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians or the idea of a Jewish state itself. They state in their declaration:
“We commit ourselves to peace. We will stand up with honest bodies, to offer honest bread. We will stand up with our words, our pens, our songs, our paintbrushes, our open hands. We commit to re-envisioning “homeland,” to make room for justice. We will stand in the way of colonization and displacement….We demand daylight for our stories, for all stories. We seek breathing room and dignity for all people. We are committed to the struggle. We are the struggle. We will become mentors, elders, and radical listeners for the next generation. It is our sacred obligation. We will not stop. We exist. We are young Jews, and we get to decide what that means.”
I know I’m going to keep an eye out for Young Jewish and Proud events and actions once I settle back down in Brooklyn in a few months. You can sign up for e-mail updates on the right-hand side of their web page.