A Call to Our Communities to Stop the Character Assassinations and Attacks on Seekers of Justice


Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian groups and individuals, including from Jewish communities, continue to spearhead or engage in assaults upon those who dare to criticize Israel or support Palestinian rights. Palestinians and Muslims are particularly targeted.
These attacks against supporters of justice come as Israel continues to escalate its violence and repressive tactics against the Palestinian people.In recent weeks, we have witnessed an intensification of Israeli violence against Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the people of Gaza are enduring unbearable brutality, forced tolive “in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world,”B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group hasrecentlysaid.
Yet, the attacks I refer to are not on those perpetrating these grave injustices, but, rather, on those challenging them. This is a plea to those of us from within Jewish communities to vigorously and unequivocally repudiate these persistent character assassinations and attacks, to call them out for what they are, to examine our complicity in what is happening, and to join the call for justice.
Although scurrilous attacks against critics of Israel’s behavior have a long history, they have been steadily increasing.These attacks typically follow a similar pattern of harassment.The tactics are as follows: Attack the messenger. Don’t respond to the message with rational argument. Attack the messenger (again). And again. And the attack must, at the least, hurl accusations against them of being anti-Semites and supporters of terrorism. This is Israeli (and American Jewish pro-Israel)¬†hasbara¬†(propaganda) 101.
The list of seekers of justice who have been falsely maligned and had vicious campaigns mounted against them by hard-line supporters of Israel is long. They are, like renowned Professor Steven Salaita, on college campuses; in social justice organizations, as well as the organizations themselves, like Students for Justice in Palestine; from Muslim and Palestinian communities, like community leader Linda Sarsour. Most recently, an ACLU staff member, Jamil Dakwar, was maligned as anti-Semitic for tweeting that Zionism is not the same as Judaism and that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism. This attack was intended to discredit the ACLU’s opposition to the bill now in Congress that would criminalize support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS calls on Israel to be accountable to basic principles of human rights and international law.
As thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people of conscience across the globe have joined forces with those insisting on justice for the Palestinian people, the Israeli government and its supporters haveintensifiedtheir attempts to punish and destroy the lives, careers, and reputations of people and movements. As someone who has been involved with these issues for more than 30 years, I have seen first-hand the increased intensity of these attacks, which I believe is, at least in part, a clear reaction to the rapidly growing strength and power of the global movement for Palestinian rights.
We need to stand with seekers of justice against this relentless harassment.Many within our communities have “normalized” such attacks, not only through our frequent silence, but also because these attacks don’t happen in isolation.
These assaults take place in the context of ongoing state-sponsored Islamophobia in the U.S. (like aggressive and discriminatory police surveillance of the Muslim community)Theytake place in the context of substantial funding coming from Israel and Israel’s advocates to silence the voices that support Palestinian rights and to oppose constitutionally protected forms of protest.And they take place in the context of U.S. support for Israel’s unjust system rooted in violence against Palestinians and the privileging of Jewish lives. Looking at our role within Jewish communities, in each of these cases, numbers ofAmerican Jewish organizationsare participants in supporting or promoting these injustices.
While responsibility extends well beyond members and groups within Jewish communities, we are obliged to look at where and how we are complicit. We need to stand firm for justice, and we cannot remain silent as Islamophobes and other racists and supporters of Israeli apartheid try to destroy the well-being, reputations, and safety of those whose only “crime” is being Muslim or Palestinian and who stand for Palestinian freedom as a social justice imperative. All of us need to forcefully and visibly condemn these smear campaigns and look deeply at how we participate in them even as we claim to oppose them.
The call for justice couldn’t be more urgent. We must hold our communities accountable for the ways we promote and perpetuate a climate and conditions that attempt to threaten, harm, and silence (and worse) Palestinians, Muslims, and all those challenging Israeli apartheid and standing for justice in Palestine.
Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a founding member of the Network Against Islamophobia, Facing the Nakba, and Jews Say No!, and was a co-founder of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

14 thoughts on “A Call to Our Communities to Stop the Character Assassinations and Attacks on Seekers of Justice

  1. Thank you for writing this. I have had these kind of attacks made on me for close to 3 decades and know the only way I could go to local synagogues would be by lying about the fact I am critical of Israel and the occupation. I am so happy a progressive Jewish community has grown up now that challenges the establishment.

    • Yes, they died when they were rioting. One died when a moltov cocktail he was about to throw blew up in his hand. On the other hand, this whole latest “cycle of violence” began when armed worshippers inside the Temple Mount murdered three Israeli police officers as they were walking away. Shot them in the back. They were Druze, loyal Druze who have peaceful minority communities in Israel. The rioters were rioting against putting in metal detectors.

  2. “At least 3 Palestinians have been killed over this period. And occupied people have a right in international law to resist their armed occupiers. ” ”
    That’s all very nice. Thank you. I see you read the Fox news of the Middle East. I am sure you kw that Israelis want peace but they needed a partner. Sadly that’s missing. Yu would do yourself and the conflict justice e if you looked at both sides, not just one

  3. I find it highly ironic that you are writing about getting silenced, where Israel and those who support her are always willing to find a partner for peace to talk and listen. It is ironic because if you cared about the rights of those who identify as Palestinian, you would call to attention the corruption and violence and human rights abuses that the P.A. and Hamas put upon their own people. It is ironic that while you call for freedom of dialogue, you shut voices like myself down. I never throw insults on your Facebook page, I countered your distortions with the truth and facts, and you shut and silenced the likes of me and many others down who do not tow your line of lies:
    I can hardly think you can qualify your organization as Jewish, you take away people’s Voice, and you certainly do not advocate for true Peace. https://stacylynngittleman.com/2016/06/02/that-moment-when-i-became-a-hasabra-troll-a-phone-conversation-with-jewish-voice-for-peace/

  4. Stacy , I read your piece. Although I disagree in some points, what I recognize is someone who s well informed. I can sit opposite you and discuss the issues knowing full well you are well versed in the history of Zionism. I too am old and i recall the hard work necessary to get out the word. I recall Israel being an inspiration for world Jewry.
    JVP and other Palestinian activists want to shut down debate and have their followers follow a fixed narrative. The Israel-Palestinian conflicts is very complex. It’s a conflict between to people and their claim to land, not oppressed and oppressor. If JVP tried to understand the conflict, they would be equally distributing their message of peace to both sides.

    • Thank you for reading my piece, Fred, and for your fair and balanced comment. Indeed, the Israel-Arab conflict is complex and I fear that those in JVP are the perfect product of what happens when American Judaism has moved Jewish education to lower rungs of priority to this generation. They don’t know their stuff and they don’t feel Judaism and Jewish peoplehood in their kishkas. They feel many things and they are passionate about social justice, but it is misguided. I learned about Judaism in terms of self preservation FIRST before we worried about taking on the causes of others. A strong Israel means that then, when Jews are living and thriving in their homeland, then they truly can be a light unto the nations, as they do on so many fronts; medical, agricultural, environmental, technological, and that to me is the expression of Zionism. A dialogue with the other side requires that the other side finally come to terms that they waged a war against the Jewish nation, they lost, and their answer to offers of peace and compromise must be constructive counter-offers and not violence.

  5. Ain’t it funny how momzers responsible for daily acts of character assassination of Israel whine when there lies are exposed?
    The Al Aqsa violence is provoked by incessant campaign of lies and incitement, and when it causes violence which, expectedly – backfires on Palestinians – they cry “Murder”.
    You listened to murderer of “fellow” Jews – and hailed her as freedom fighter. I will not call you “kapos” – those have made a terrible choice in inhuman conditions in ghettos and death camps.
    You are worth – at least those of you who are Jewish (and since one of your chapters was headed by a Muslim – how Jewish are you)? Jews among you have willingly turned and voluntarily cheer murderers and terrorists, ignoring attacks against Israelis – and libellously accusing Israel of all possible sins, including racial tension in States.
    No need for character assassination of Goebbelse’s students – your pitiful character has committed suicide. We just eulogize your character for what is worth.

  6. How depressing to read these comments, none of which responds to Donna N’s main point: that the JVP was founded because Palestinians are represented and treated as enemies of Israel, which they have always denied, and Jews want to say “not in our name.” As a JVP member, I simply want to stand on the right side of history and not turn a blind eye to obvious war crimes.

    • The best period of the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis was during the period of the Oslo talks. This is what happened during that period.
      Lisa, I have news for you, and this is very easy. As much as I do not lie th current ELECTED Israeli government, it has not committed” war crimes” I assume you have a good education and understand the legal definition of a crime. So, no, it’s not obvious unless its substantiated in court. The term war crime s pretty strong and I’m sure you’ve never applied it elsewhere
      the fact that you ignore terror attacks represents an obvious bias on your part

    • One other question for you Lisa. Are you aware of te hundreds of thousands slaughtered buy the Assad regime in Syria, or do you simply fid that acceptable. JVP should extend well beyond the obsession with Israel. I think the Syrians deserve peace as well.

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