I am very honored and proud to introduce myself as the new director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
I first joined JVP in 2002. The second Intifada had just started, leading me to re-examine everything I had learned as a child about Israel. Once I understood the reality of my responsibility as an American, a Jew, and later, as a mother to Israeli-American children, I had to act. JVP became not only a place where I could act on my politics, but a community that reflected my Jewish values.
Three years ago, I moved to Israel with my family so my husband, who is Israeli, could be close to his family. While there I worked for Palestinian-Israeli social justice organizations, and was actively involved in the Israeli movement in solidarity with Palestinian partners. From the South Hebron hills, where local families fought to stay on their land, even as children are stoned on their way to school and their harvests and animals are poisoned; to Asariyah, formerly part of Jerusalem, but now cut off and surrounded by the Wall; to Bedouin communities in Israel that are being demolished over and over again; I was witness to the ravages of state policies that unequivocally favor one people over another, making neither peace nor security possible for anyone in the region.
But during this time I was also privileged to get to know the amazing groups of tireless Palestinian and Israeli activists who need our support. I am more convinced than ever that we in the US have an enormous responsibility -- and opportunity -- to play a critical role in bringing about an end to the apartheid-like policies that are the heartbreaking reality of the Occupation today.
This is an important time politically and for JVP.
We have a new national board; we've added people like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Michael Ratner onto our advisory board; and in the last year our list of supporters has grown from 20,000 to almost 90,000. As a result, we have come out of this year stronger than ever, and in a great position to expand our membership and strength in communities all over the U.S.
In the last nine months something really feels like it has shifted in the discourse about Israel and Palestine in the United States. In just a short period, the New York Times covered protests against the Wall in Bil'in; Jon Stewart criticized the invasion of Gaza; and the LA Times published Neve Gordon's op-ed in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It's clear that a window is slowly opening that brings great opportunities for public education and public action.
I really look forward to working with you as we work not only to open this window wider, but to increase our ability to play an active and effective part in the wider movement to bring justice for all peoples of Israel and Palestine. Please feel free to contact me at Rebecca@jewishvoiceforpeace.org if you have any questions.
P.S. Check out this thought-provoking interview our deputy director Cecilie Surasky did with Shock Doctrine writer Naomi Klein and her Israeli publisher, Yael Lerer, about Klein's groundbreaking book tour throughout Israel and Palestine, and her decision to respect the Palestinian civil society call for a cultural boycott of Israel.