A Response to the Parent of a JVP child

A Reform Rabbi wrote in response to my criticism of JVP the following:

“Two of my adult children are active members of JVP. Many other rabbis’ kids are involved as members, as leaders, as recruiters.

Instead of a knee-jerk rejection and condemnation of JVP, we should be doing some cheshbon hanefesh and some respectful listening to these young people (most in 20-30-40’s) who cherish Jewish values and who were brought up in Jewish homes, schools, camps, and trips to Israel. They were not brainwashed by the PLO, but have struggled with their sense of outrage at human rights violations by Jews. We brought them up on chesed and mishpat and tzedek and pidyon sh’vuim, etc.”

My response:

The key issues for me in supporting a Jewish organization is whether it criticizes Israel from love or not, whether it supports the right of the Jewish people to a state of our own, and whether it affirms the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel alongside a future State of Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a self-described  anti-Zionist and anti-Israel organization.

It is certainly easier to avoid judging a group such as JVP if one’s children are part of it. A relevant question for the parents of JVP children is whether they have chosen not to judge JVP, even though it is openly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist, because their kids are involved?

Other relevant questions include: are all positions vis a vis Israel a matter of opinion and therefore equally worthy? Is morality relative? Are there no moral lines to be drawn when talking about and/or criticizing Israel? Ought we to prioritize organizations based on their positions vis a vis Zionism and Israel and then evaluate them according to those standards? Does it matter if there is a pro-Israel tent? Is every position vis a vis Israel as good as every other position?

For me, as a progressive Reform Zionist and a J Street Rabbi, as I noted in my Times of Israel Blog (January 20, 2019), JVP is anti-Israel and anti-Zionist by its own admission, and because it does not affirm that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, JVP puts itself beyond the limits of the pro-Israel tent. In my view that makes JVP a moral problem for pro-Zionist and pro-Israel Jews even if our kids are part of it.

Ifnotnow, another left-wing American Jewish organization, is within the pro-Israel tent because it recognizes the right of the Jewish people to a state of our own, however critical of that state Ifnotnow is. Though Ifnotnow is too left-wing for me, perhaps parents of JVP children ought to be guided to Ifnotnow and/or J Street.​

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and a past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of 3 books - "From the West to the East - A Memoir of a Liberal American Rabbi" (2024), "Why Israel Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to the Next Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Revised edition 2023), and “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (2017). All are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren and he lives in Los Angeles.
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