[Managing Editor's note: In two separate statements issued in the last month, the group LA Jews for Peace endorsed the platform of the Movement for Black Lives and demanded California Gov. Jerry Brown veto AB-2844. Like almost everything we post on Tikkun Daily, these statements do not necessarily reflect Tikkun's official stances. For those positions, please refer to the editorials in the print magazine.]

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LA Jews for Peace Endorses the

Platform of The Movement for Black Lives

LA Jews for Peace endorses “A Vision for Black Lives, Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, and Justice,” the platform of The Movement for Black Lives. The Platform is a strong and comprehensive statement for social, racial, political, and economic justice. We would very much like to live in the society it describes. We also note that some Jewish groups have criticized the Platform as anti-Israel. Their critique centers on three issues:

  • The Platform endorses Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Jewish American establishment objects to the platform because they assert BDS’s goal is to destroy Israel. We disagree. Thousands of Jewish and other Americans support BDS as non-violent economic pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. They are not out to destroy Israel, and their BDS activities would stop when Israel ends its occupation and allows Palestinians to regain their political, human, and economic rights. This is why LA Jews for Peace urges the U.S. government to place comprehensive sanctions on Israel until it makes peace with Palestine, similar to the sanctions it placed on South Africa to end apartheid.
  • The Platform characterizes Israel as an apartheid state.This is obviously true. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Jews and Palestinians live totally apart and are subject to separate laws – Jews under Israeli civic law and Palestinians under military law. Jewish communities receive massive state infrastructure support while Palestinian community state support is extremely limited. Within Israel there are over 50 discriminatory laws that restrict Palestinian, but not Jewish, life. This is the definition of apartheid, an Afrikaans word meaning separation.
  • The Platform states that “genocide [is] taking place against the Palestinian people.”That is a false assertion. Israel is not committing mass extermination; rather it extrajudicially executes Palestinians; uses disproportionate force to attack Palestinian homes, civil, commercial, and municipal buildings like schools and hospitals; and expropriates private land and resources. There are more Palestinians alive today, and they comprise nearly half of the population under direct and indirect Israeli control, but their living standards and prospects have been destroyed.

In evaluating these critiques, LA Jews for Peace notes that none of the platform’s statements are anti-Semitic. Critiques of Israel policy are directed at United States government policies that enable Israeli actions. And the platform’s statements criticizing Israeli actions are directed at government policy, not at Israelis who are Jews.

LA Jews for Peace does not believe that The Movement for Black Lives platform’s incorrect use of the term “genocide” negates an otherwise powerful statement for social, racial, political, and economic justice enunciated in the Platform’s other 37,000 words. That is why LA Jews for Peace proudly endorses the platform of the Movement for Black Lives.

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LA Jews for Peace Letter, August 30, 2016

Demanding Governor Brown Veto Anti-BDS Bill AB-2844

Honorable Governor Brown

LA Jews for Peace urges you to veto AB-2844.

LA Jews for Peace is a group of concerned Jewish and non-Jewish Angelenos committed to peace in the greater Middle East. We recognize Israel’s right to exist, but work to end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We support a negotiated agreement that assures Palestinians national, civil, and human rights equivalent to those of Jewish Israelis.

AB 2844 will penalize companies and other entities that may discriminate if they boycott Israel. If a company violates a California anti-discrimination law, it will be barred from contracting with the state of California.

But anti-discrimination laws already exist making AB-2844 redundant, yet AB-2844 will incur a significant amount of tax money to implement and enforce.

In fact, AB-2844 is aimed at punishing those that use their First Amendment rights to engage in economic actions in support of their customers’ dedication to human rights and social justice. The bill focuses on boycotts that protest Israeli government policies and actions, while ignoring Israel’s own discriminatory violations of international law that are well-documented by B’Tselem and other Israeli and international human rights organizations. Violations include a 49-year occupation with illegal, Jewish-only settlements, the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes, and the denial of Palestinian human, economic, and civic rights.

The state of Illinois is now facing lawsuits from businesses due to similar legislation in that state because it criminalizes the right to boycott. AB-2844 will surely trigger similar litigation that might cost California taxpayers millions of dollars in defense costs.

AB-2844 is part of a well-financed, national effort to suppress any discussion of the Israeli government’s abuses. It is a blatant attempt to silence California citizens, including many Jewish Californians like us, who support using non-violent financial pressure to end Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.

Contrary to the claims of AB-2844′s author, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, boycotts are not being used to “attack Jews” or “destroy the state of Israel.” Rather they are employed to end Israel’s occupation and abuses of Palestinians.

AB-2844 should be vetoed.

Dick Platkin is a founding member of LA Jews for Peace and he is also on the board of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions – USA. Platkin also teaches, writes, and consults on city planning issues in Los Angeles.

Jeff Warner is the Action Coordinator for LA Jews for Peace. Warner’s on-the-ground work is focused on ending the United States’ role in undermining peace between Israel and Palestine. He is a retired research geologist.


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