NYU JVP Holds First Official Meeting

The Jewish Voice for Peace chapter at NYU held its first official club meeting on Wednesday

Exactly a month after being granted official club status, NYU Jewish Voice for Peace held its first meeting on Nov. 8 in Kimmel. More than 30 students and community members came together for an hour and a half to discuss issues ranging from the definition of liberal Zionism to the history of Jewish settlements in Palestine. The attendees swapped opinions and experiences over rugelach and babka.

JVP outlined their views in a presentation, stating in part that their members “are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, [and] human rights.” The group also described themselves as against racism towards Arabs and anti-Islamophobia, seeking “to build interfaith coalitions.”

“I think … the most immediate goal is trying to create a space where you can be anti-Zionist but also a Jewish space,” said Ethan Fraenkel, a JVP organizer.

Many of those in attendance identified as Jewish and had been raised in the faith, some from pro-Israel communities and some not. Others were just there to learn more about JVP and its views. “I’m curious. I want to learn more and offer my support,” said one attendee.

One of the main focuses of the meeting was JVP’s strong opposition to the Birthright program, an organization that sponsors young members of the Jewish faith to visit Israel for 10 days. In a similar vein, the club recently formed a coalition with 20 other campus organizations to oppose a similar trip, NYU Israel Experience, scheduled for January 2018, headed by the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life. The coalition members all signed a letter saying they would not partake in the Israel trip; JVP hand-delivered a copy to the Bronfman Center on Wednesday.

“It’s really a way to destabilize Zionist hegemony on campus,” JVP organizer Itay Barylka said of the trip.

“It’s supposed to manufacture consent for Israel,” said Rose, another JVP leader, who asked to be referred to only by her first name. “People are buying ideology when they go on this trip,” adding the expedition “erase[s] the existence of Palestinians.”

Barylka echoed Rose’s criticism, saying its aim was to “kind of make them believe the Zionist narrative of what Israel is.”

He added , “[The] trip is marketed as intersectional and inclusive, which is absurd.”

Going forward, Barylka and the other members of the newly minted club will work to define their mission and focus. “I’d like to make JVP a force of interfaith work, rooted in liberation and freedom,” he said.

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