For the first time ever, American and Israeli Jews interrupted the Prime Minister of Israel's Address to the General Assembly of the North American Jewish Federations with a simple message: The actions of the Israeli government are delegitimizing the State of Israel.
I urge you to look at the video here, even if you, like I, don't like shouting down a speaker. Not only did it take courage to do what those young people did (especially the ones at the end, when the crowd turned ugly) but their message was not particularly radical or off-the-wall. In fact, what they said is what many Israelis say, and what the pro-Israel and pro-peace lobby J-Street also says. Some will disagree with their tactics, but the sad truth is that for too long Jews have said, privately, that they disagree with the Occupation – and then have turned the page and gone on with their support. These young folks are shaking up those who need to be shaken up.
And that had to make a lot of reps to the GA uneasy. I understand the need for many American Jews to listen respectfully to the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, and to pledge support for the state against its enemies. But when American Jewish liberals, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, hear statements shouted by protesters –statements with which they agree – then that confuses and saddens the hell out of many of them.
And when they see the viciousness of some of the other delegates, the hatred and violence in the eyes – listen to the crowd's reaction as it gets progressively nastier – it just makes things harder for them.
Kudos for JVP for facilitating this. I hope the "GA 5" visit some college campuses soon to spread the message; I know that JVP is setting up "chapters" at a college near you.