Spite can lead even the most rational person to engage in self-harm in order to hurt the object of their hate. There are few examples of such self-immolating prejudice better than that of the conduct of “Jewish Voice for Peace”. JVP hates Israel to such a religiously obsessive extent that it is willing to let the communities that it supposedly cares for suffer. The organization has embarked on a dog-whistling campaign that echoes classic anti-semitic tropes by blaming every contentious American social and political issue on Israeli security institutions. However, it is not only American Jews that will suffer from the sentiment proselytized in this campaign. The suffering and death of Israelis, Palestinians, and American minority groups are all collateral damage in JVP’s crusade against Israel.
For years, the state of Israel and the United States of America have had their security institutions engage in educational security exchange programs that allow them to learn and compare best defense and protection practices. JVP, seething over any interaction with Israel, and likely seeing an opportunity to hijack other US social and political movements for its own ends, created the “Deadly Exchange” campaign.
As described in a Haaretz Op-Ed by Jonathan Tobin, the basic assertion of the campaign is that US police forces are learning their strategies and tactics from Israeli forces, and any alleged or proven abuse and violation by American authorities are the fault of Israel. In medieval times, churches and scapegoat cults blamed Jews for missing children and plagues. Tobin argues that this BDS endeavour is a modern-day blood libel that follows the classic trope of blaming Jews as the conspiratorial cause of a community’s woes.
In response, Stefanie Fox, deputy director of JVP, penned an article in which she claimed her organization had never framed Israel as responsible for American police violence. It was simply trying to devalidate Israeli and American security practices in order to look after the safety and interests of minority communities. Of course, the truth is yet another acceptable loss in JVP’s jihad against Israel.
Fox said it best when she stated that making the case that Israel is responsible for the actions of American authorities “…is not only anti-Semitic, but racist and deeply ahistoric”. It’s then almost comical that she goes on to dog-whistle Israel’s responsibility by confirming the chain of action, by her rhetoric, and by making associations of “struggle”.
Fox explains that Israeli security forces are inhumane and violent, and have commodified these as lessons to export abroad. According to the JVP deputy director, the US police forces are consumers of this information product, and commit atrocities of their own. It should be obvious that if one emphasises the importance of teaching certain tactics, another is learning them, and then echoing them, it is implicit that the teacher bears blame. Fox’s statements are bread-crumbs to the conclusion of Israeli responsibility.
Fox lays more crumbs with her use of language. She specifies the lessons of the Israeli forces to be “…violence and grave human rights abuses, particularly in the areas of racial profiling, surveillance, mistreatment of prisoners, suppression of social movements, and divisive “us vs. them” thinking.” It is no accident that each of these lessons are the very same violations and issues that allegedly afflict US security services. Minority communities are supposed to identify the crimes of which they perceive themselves victims by American institutions, and then discover that they are also concurrently being taught by Israel to the US. Coincidence is not the implication.
Further attempts to create a sense that such sister violations are more than just coincidences are made through JVP’s insistence on association. Fox “reminds” that situations on the US-Mexico border and the Israel-Gaza border reflect one another, and are connected. If the situations are the same, and one is teaching the other security conduct, it’s an easy leap in logic that the student’s actions stem directly from the teacher’s lessons.
Perhaps JVP is not explicitly saying that Israel is the cause of all woes, but implicitly the dog-whistles are clear, and supporters are being lead to this conclusion. Indeed, one need only look at JVP’s Facebook page to see the result. Upon learning about “Deadly Exchange”, one supporter exclaimed, “No wonder there’s so much similarity between IDF snipers killing unarmed Palestinian protesters and US cops killing unarmed black Americans”. Another said “All the police that come back from the Zionist racist Apartheid state, see everyone as Palestinian, someone to be hated, bullied, threatened and killed”. The medieval anti-Semitic canard is therefore exactly what JVP is implementing. Unfortunately, American Jews facing racism and bigotry as a result of the the campaign are not the only group that will suffer from the results.
In the same article that she bemoans the alleged “us vs. them” mentality of Israeli society, Fox hypocritically paints a one-sided narrative in which Israel is an evil apartheid regime devoted to violence. This makes sense, as for the lessons taught to US authorities to be accepted as solely of an inhumane character, they cannot be perceived as derived from any legitimate security concern. Any sense that there may have been legitimate lessons about security would undermine the campaign’s narrative and argument. JVP’s “us vs. them” narrative presents threats to Israelis as unimportant, and even demonizes Israel as an unmatched evil that must be fought. This can be seen when Fox claimed the Gazan border protests were peaceful, and that the IDF committed an unprovoked massacre. In reality, the majority of those killed were terrorists, and the peaceful protests were actually ultra-violent mobs. If the narrative of Deadly Exchange is popularized, the perception will spread that Palestinian terrorism is solely a response to Israel’s unspeakable evils. JVP’s associates will come to see Palestinian terror as an acceptable action, in the same way that JVP activists currently do. For proof of how this acceptance of terrorism develops, one need look no further than JVP’s invitation of unrepentant convicted terrorist Rasmea Oded. Framing her actions as a “struggle for justice”, Oded drew applause and adoration from JVP activists. With terrorism justified and legitimized on a broader scale, beyond the radical fundamentalists of JVP, groups like Hamas will be emboldened. Palestinian political groups will continue to use violence as the preferred means to pursue their goals, and unfortunately more Palestinians and Israelis will die in the consequent fighting.
For those who don’t justify or legitimize terrorism like JVP, it should be readily apparent that the vast majority of Israeli security actions have been completely legitimate. In the course of defending against genocidal wars and terrorist campaigns, Israelis have had to learn about security and safety by necessity. While Israel and the IDF are by no means perfect, they have learned how to fight as humanely as currently possible. Despite Fox’s misleading remarks, Israeli forces have managed to keep casualty counts much lower than in most conflicts. They go through great effort and risk to mitigate civilian damages, amongst other war-time humanitarian feats. By preventing American police from learning from the successes and failures of those experienced in counter-terrorism and security, JVP invites a situation in which American police do not improve in their craft at all. If all of Fox’s allegations about the US police are to be believed, this would mean the continuation of violent mistakes and malpractices against minority communities. This would not lead to an increase in safety, but fatalities. If one truly cared about police brutality and procedures, they would welcome IDF policy innovations like its rules of engagement. Safety for minority groups is not the order of the day, however. JVP is devoted to virtue signalling prayers that protect only feelings and ideological tenets.
Safety for minorities is not the only thing JVP will sacrifice in its obsession with smearing Israel. This campaign also prevents their best interests from being pursued. Despite Fox’s assurance that there is no effort to “collapse or conflate” different issues, JVP is attempting to do just that. According to JVP’s preaching, all minority struggles are connected. They are reflections of one another that must “remind” supporters of all of them in unison. However, minorities are chiefly supposed to be reminded of the original sin that influences their own struggles, the injustices against the Palestinians by demonic Zionists. This is the blatant hijacking of some grievances to prioritize another. This abuse of trust misidentifies the problems of these groups, and therefore makes it difficult to address individual needs. Treating all social and political movements as one also prevents tailored efforts to unique situations. With misidentification and an all-or-nothing approach, the interests of individual minority groups will not be met by JVP’s doctrines.
This canon of acceptable causes also ostracizes, separates, and demonizes American Jews. If an individual doesn’t accept one gospel of the canon, then they are not recognizing all of them by default. Lack of acceptance of one struggle excommunicates heathens from the entire progressive church. With this implicit ultimatum of association, American Jews are forced to pick between support for Israel or the orthodoxy of progressive causes. They cannot have both. It’s a tough choice to make, but pressure is further added when JVP’s blood libel is considered. It’s not simply that Israel is the source of all woes, but an insidious network of American Jews as well. After all, the ADL and an indeterminate number of American Jews are involved with the exchange program. American Jews will feel they must prove themselves to not to be part of the conspiracy to the JVP inquisition, or else submit to the anti-semitic trope and all of its consequences. Creating these choices means the division of American Jews, and bad blood between brothers.
The Deadly Exchange blood libel and its ultra-orthodox church of progressive struggles shows how JVP is the Holy Roman Empire of Jewish organizations. The Holy Roman Empire was not Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. In the same way, JVP can hardly be considered Jewish when spreading anti-semitic tropes, bullying American Jews, and fostering Jewish diaspora divisions. An organization can hardly say it offers a platform as a “voice” when it is against dialogue and the exchange of ideas and information, and also insists that all minority voices must speak with said organization’s words. Lastly, it cannot be said to be for peace when trivializing security concerns for one side of a conflict and legitimizing terrorism for the other. Nor could it be said to be for peace when supporting bad security practices and risking the safety of minority communities.
JVP has made a conscious choice to sacrifice American Jews, Palestinians, Israelis, and American minority communities on the altar of Israel hatred. Given all the anti-semitism, bigotry, and suffering that would result, it is clear that JVP’s campaign is the true “deadly exchange”.