Seattle Jewish Voice for Peace Chapter Plots to End Sister City Relationship With Israeli City

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Jewish Voice for Peace activists startling tourists at Seattle's Pike Place Marker - June, 2014

Jewish Voice for Peace activists startling tourists at Seattle’s Pike Place Market – June, 2014

Despite the deceptive name, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is an organization engaged in full time battle against the Jewish state. The group calls for the demographic end of Israel as a majority Jewish state and promotes efforts to boycott and divest from Israel. Falsely representing themselves as a mainstream voice of the Jewish community the group constantly lobbies and sometimes succeeds in persuading mainline churches and other left leaning organizations to boycott Israel. JVP gains much of their publicity through brash acts of kabuki theatre such as disrupting entry to Boeing or laying down in the middle of Pike Place Market.

Preventing “normalization” is a cornerstone of JVP’s multi pitchforked effort at Isolating Israel, the goal being the prevention of any formal interaction, such as academic or cultural exchanges. The group claims that any charitable or humane act practiced by Israel is merely an elaborate ploy to distract from the country’s anti-Palestinian fetish. Recent examples include JVP’s mocking of Israeli efforts to rescue infants from the Nepalese earthquake and the sabotage of a March 2012 visit from an Israeli human rights delegation to Seattle. The group notoriously disrupted a Holocaust memorial ceremony in the New York City council chambers to protest an upcoming junket to Israel.

The latest campaign against the Jewish state comes from the Seattle branch of Jewish Voice for Peace, and was developed by four of their  local leaders, Wendy Somerson, Selma Al Aswad, Eitan Isaacson and Shelby Handler. Unveiled at the JVP national membership meeting in Baltimore this past March, the group is finalizing plans to sabotage the sister city relationship between Seattle and Beer Sheva, Israel. Seattle currently has a sister city relationship with 21 cities, including Haiphong, Vietnam; Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Chongqing, China. Seattle established sister city ties with Beer Sheva in 1977.

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Wendy Somerson (holding Moses sign) is one of the JVP activists planning the sabotage of Seattle’s sister city relationship with Beer Sheva, Israel. Photo Credit: The Mike Report

Says JVP in a statement posted to their Facebook page. “The official goal of a “sister city” relationship is to strengthen “cultural understanding” and “economic development. We have an opportunity to resist this normalization and meet this “cultural exchange” with cultural resistance in the form of art and creative activism.” 

With the stated goal of challenging “business and cultural relations between Seattle and Israel” JVP plans to use the hoped for media attention generated from this effort “to highlight and educate people in Seattle about the historical and ongoing Palestinian Nakba, the Arabic word for the catastrophe of ethnic cleansing, which began in 1948 and continues to this day in Palestine.”  

Planning meeting promo for JVP campaign against Seattle/Beer-Sheva sister city relationship.

Planning meeting promo for JVP campaign against Seattle/Beer-Sheva sister city relationship.

The anti-Israel group plans to gain relevance for their sister-city campaign by exploiting and redirecting domestic civil rights issues “to the fight for Palestinian liberation“.  JVP famously took just such an approach when they tied the Ferguson unrest to their own efforts to topple the Jewish state.

Jewish Voice for Peace failed in their efforts to prevent the establishment of a sister city relationship between Sacramento, CA and Ashkelon, Israel in 2012. Alternatively, the group has promoted  the establishment of sister city relationships between Palestinian and US municipalities such as Madison, WI and Rafah, Gaza. Each of these efforts generated a great deal of controversy, and hence publicity for the group’s anti-Israel agenda.

Seattle Rabbi, Steven Younker

Seattle Rabbi, Steven Younker

The organized Jewish community has struggled to find an effective counter to Jewish Voice for Peace and their brand of gonzo activism. Seattle Rabbi, Steven Younker notes that JVP has constructed a “win-win” for themselves. Says Younker “It is a conundrum; efforts by the pro-Israel community to counter JVP’s obscenities inevitably brings more attention to their exploits”. On the other hand says Rabbi Younker, “Ignoring JVP merely gives them an open playing field and the appearance of communal indifference”.

Although JVP represents themselves as a mainstream Jewish voice, Rabbi Younker notes “JVP is a small, malicious group of extremists, they represent virtually nobody” adding, “with this heads up, I hope the pro-Israel community in Seattle will be ready for JVP’s coming assault”. Ready or not, JVP’s rollout of their latest effort to delegitimize the Jewish state will debut in coming weeks.

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