Philadelphia, PA-

Jewish Voice for Peace-Philadelphia (JVP Philly) commends the City Council on unanimously passing Resolution 161119 against Islamophobia. This resolution upholds the City’s “support for and protection of Muslim communities, condemning violence and hate speech targeted towards Muslims, affirming the religious pluralism of the United States, and urging Philadelphia residents to stand in solidarity with our American Muslim communities - and all other communities - for peace and justice.” We look forward to working with City Council in their efforts to realize the principles outlined in this resolution.

JVP Philly also commends Mayor Kenney on his commitment to maintaining Philadelphia’s ‘sanctuary city’ status and upholding the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. We applaud Mayor Kenney for standing up to President Trump, who on January 25th issued an executive order rendering sanctuary cities ineligible for federal grants and threatening to withhold federal funding from cities that fail to cooperate.

JVP Philly thanks Mayor Kenney and the City Council for taking a stand against the racist and xenophobic policies issuing from the federal government. We hope our city government will continue to take measures to address systemic Islamophobia and racism in Philadelphia.

To this end, we encourage Mayor Kenney to fulfill his campaign promise to end racist stop-and-frisk practices. We also urge the city government to refuse any efforts to register or surveil members of the Muslim community, and to refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs officials. In the coming months and years, we hope to see our Mayor and City Council resisting any harmful and discriminatory orders coming from the Trump administration.

JVP Philly pledges to resist Trump’s despicable policies in every possible way. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop these hateful and racist attacks. We all belong here. We will love, protect, and defend one another.

JVP Philly Response in "ZOA Opposes Black Lives Matter Week in Philly Schools"

ZOA Opposes Black Lives Matter Week in Philly Schools (Jewish Exponent, January 20)

A different local Jewish group — the pro-BDS Jewish Voice for Peace-Philadelphia — endorses the [Racial Justice Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators]’ initiative.
“Jewish Voice for Peace-Philadelphia joins the majority of progressive American Jews, and particularly the younger generation, in supporting Black Lives Matter and calling for an end to political and economic systems that disproportionately harm people of color,” JVP’s Matt Berkman said. “We … support the efforts of Philadelphia public school teachers to educate students about the inequalities that affect their communities and their city.”

Commentary: For lasting peace, respect rights of both Israelis and Palestinians

Rabbi Alissa Wise writes an op-ed in the Philly Inquirer:

LAST WEEKEND, the world ushered in a new year, while Jews celebrated the final day of Hanukkah. It is traditional to light the Hanukkah menorah in your window or other public place, so all may benefit from its light.

It is in that spirit that members of Jewish Voice for Peace’s Philadelphia chapter gathered at Mayor Kenney’s menorah lighting ceremony to shine the light on our unflinching dedication to justice for all people. Each candle of the menorah declared our commitments - fighting Islamophobia and racism in our city, resisting white supremacy in our country and reinforcing the message we brought several months ago, when the Democratic National Convention was in town: Palestinians should be free.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Empowered Responses to Occupation from Palestinian Contemporary Dance

View a clip from our November 18th Contemporary Palestinian Dance event, featuring Palestinian dance artist Khaled Barghouthi (shown) in collaboration with Palestinian-American dance artist Samar Haddad King (Artistic Director of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre aka YSDT) and Associate Artistic Director and performer of YSDT, Zoe Rabinowitz:

Johnathan Stein writes about the event for thINKing DANCE,

For King, “Art is not above politics.” Making art and creating a Palestinian culture that incorporates live, contemporary dance by and for Palestinians living in this fragmented, occupied country, is constantly affected by the political environment. Does she cancel a planned performance because of a nearby “martyr killing” so as not to be disrespectful to the family, or decide to perform to avoid the impact for dancers whose families rely on their earnings. If a program is cancelled because of local protests or a curfew, even the reason for the cancellation can’t be disclosed on Facebook for fear of Israeli intelligence viewing the posting as fomenting the protest. These and other stories brought to my mind the plight of artists in the Soviet Union or China.

Read the whole article here

In response to activists, Philly mayoral candidates condemn Islamophobia

In response to activists, Philly mayoral candidates condemn Islamophobia

Public pressure from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) - Philadelphia activists induced mayoral candidates Jim Kenney and Anthony H. Williams to take a public stand against Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry yesterday. More than six hundred and fifty voters signed a petition organized by JVP - Philadelphia asking mayoral candidates to actively oppose Islamophobia and to distance themselves from organizations that promote it.

JVP - Philadelphia member Matt Berkman stated, “When anti-Muslim hate speech is plastered on buses in the City of Brotherly Love, we need to know that our future leaders are committed to opposing Islamophobia. We are grateful to candidates Kenney and Williams for responding to our campaign. However, we continue to ask candidate Williams to cut ties with the Islamophobic Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)..."

Jewish Voice for Peace Asks Anthony Williams to Sever Ties with Islamophobic Associates

Jewish Voice for Peace Asks Anthony Williams to Sever Ties with Islamophobic Associates


Contact: Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia | philly@jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Philadelphia, PA (May 7, 2015) - Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) - Philadelphia challenges mayoral candidate Anthony H. Williams to publicly reject anti-Muslim organizations and activities.

JVP - Philadelphia member Matt Berkman stated, “When anti-Muslim hate speech is plastered on our city buses and our current mayor is forced to hold a major press conference rejecting it, we need to ask whether candidates in Philadelphia’s upcoming mayoral election are committed to opposing Islamophobia.”

In 2013, State Senator Williams accepted a "Friend of Zion Award" from the right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). “In recent decades, the ZOA has moved to the political fringes, employing dangerous Islamophobic scare tactics to drum up support for Israel,” said JVP - Philadelphia member Ezra Nepon. At the ZOA’s annual banquet in New York last year, ZOA President Morton Klein tellingly referred to the occupant of the Oval Office as "Barack HUSSEIN Obama,” while homophobic evangelical pastor John Hagee denounced the President as “anti-Semitic.” Nepon stated, “The ZOA is one of the only national Jewish organizations willing to host Pamela Geller, the anti-Muslim activist responsible for the recent SEPTA ads that were widely condemned by the mainstream Jewish community.” In a statement to the Jewish Exponent, ZOA’s Morton Klein refused to condemn the ads and instead sympathized with Geller’s position.

Members of JVP Philadelphia and others delivered a letter from over one hundred community members of all faiths to the Senator’s staff, detailing the ZOA’s record of bigotry and requesting that he decline the award. “What happened next was shocking,” said Rabbi Linda Holtzman (of Mt. Airy, member of the Jewish Voice for Peace national board), “not only did Senator Williams inform us that he would accept the award in the name of ‘understanding and tolerance’—an Orwellian thought, given the ZOA's intolerant agenda—but he doubled down, using his platform at the award ceremony to denounce the petitioners, his own constituents, for daring to express their concerns, telling us ‘Don’t ever show up in my office again.’” Sitting next to Williams as he delivered his remarks was fellow award recipient Nonie Darwish, a key speaker on the anti-Muslim lecture circuit known for spreading the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and claiming that the President “has a Socialist/Islamic centered worldview.”

Berkman adds, “It is disturbing that these are the people Williams considers his ‘friends,’ as he described them at the ZOA ceremony.”  

JVP - Philadelphia asks all candidates for mayor to commit to actively opposing Islamophobia in Philadelphia, and to distance themselves from organizations like the ZOA that promote it. The recent SEPTA advertisements are only the most flamboyant manifestation of this increasingly fashionable hatred. Confronting it head-on is the best way to ensure a safe and inclusive Philadelphia for all its residents.


WATCH: Williams praises ZOA "friends," disparages constituents

Jewish Voice for Peace – Philadelphia Condemns Anti-Muslim SEPTA Ads

Jewish Voice for Peace – Philadelphia Condemns Anti-Muslim SEPTA Ads

Philadelphia, PA (March 31, 2015) – This week, following a long court battle, SEPTA will begin running the latest in a nation-wide series of shockingly bigoted anti-Islam ad campaigns paid for by the far-right American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). The ads, which SEPTA initially rejected as defamatory, suggest that Muslims are Nazis and that anti-Semitism is inherent to Islamic theology. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the sponsoring organization a "hate group" and its founder, Pamela Geller, was identified by the Center for American Progress as among the ringleaders of an "Islamophobia network" of right-wing funders and activists working to foment irrational hatred of Muslims across the country.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) - Philadelphia stands in steadfast opposition to this dangerous wave of hate speech, as have JVP chapters across the country when AFDI ads have appeared in cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle.

The ugly message of Geller’s advertisement is factually inaccurate and offensive in its misuse and trivialization of Holocaust memory. Alongside a banner reading “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran” is a photograph of Adolph Hitler meeting with Haj Amin Al-Husseini, a Nazi collaborator and one-time Mufti of Jerusalem, with a caption labeling Husseini “the leader of the Muslim world.” In reality, Husseini was a British-appointed functionary with a limited following in Jerusalem, much less the entire Muslim world. But for Geller, historical accuracy is less important than exploiting the Jewish people’s ultimate tragedy to defame Muslims and sow prejudice.

While American norms of religious tolerance have so far checked the rise of European-style anti-Muslim mass movements, Geller's Islamophobia network has nonetheless helped create an environment conducive to "lone wolf" attacks on Muslim individuals and institutions. Last month, three visibly Muslim college students were executed in their Chapel Hill, North Carolina apartment by a neighbor with documented animus towards religion and an obsession with firearms. Several days later, an arson attack destroyed an Islamic center in Houston, Texas. According to the Washington Post, the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has increased five-fold since 9/11, and 6% of Muslim Americans polled in 2011—more than 150,000 people total—report having been victimized.

It is therefore encouraging that a consortium of Philadelphia’s mainstream religious leaders—Jews, Christians, and Muslims—has come together to unequivocally denounce the AFDI campaign. In a statement issued by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia last October, clergymen and women “condemn[ed] inflammatory messages that serve to divide, stigmatize, and incite prejudice.” Today, that consortium, including the Jewish Federation, will gather at 1pm in Love Park to reaffirm its repudiation of Pamela Geller’s hateful agenda. We at Jewish Voice for Peace – Philadelphia proudly and loudly join the chorus of condemnation. On this important issue, we stand with the mainstream Jewish community in rejecting Islamophobia.

Still, we would be remiss in our responsibility as progressive Jews if we did not highlight the role Islamophobia plays in much right-wing “pro-Israel” discourse. Indeed, Pamela Geller is best known for her New York subway advertisements calling Muslims “savages” and encouraging readers to “Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), whose influence in the Philadelphia area is outsized, is the only major Jewish organization willing to host Geller and other nationally prominent Islamophobes. And the Center for American Progress has documented numerous linkages between “pro-Israel” foundations and anti-Muslim hate groups.

At Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia, we believe it is both possible and necessary to affirm the right of Israelis and Palestinians to security and freedom without resorting to racism, and we express deep concern that Islamophobic groups like the ZOA continue to be embraced by the mainstream Jewish community.


More resources from Jewish Voice for Peace:

Standing Against Islamophobia

Challenging Pamela Geller/American Freedom Defense Initiative



Philadelphia public transport adverts linking Islam with Adolf Hitler spark outrage, April 3, 2015. International Business Times.

Rabbi's guerrilla war against anti-Islam bus ads, April 29, 2015. Philly.com


Coverage of JVP 2015 National Membership Meeting in Baltimore

Coverage of JVP 2015 National Membership Meeting in Baltimore

Some candid footage of JVP Philly activists at around 3:29 in this excellent short documentary!

Additional press coverage:

"Embracing Israel Boycott, Jewish Voice For Peace Insists on Its Jewish Identity" by Evan Serpick, March 28, 2015, The Jewish Daily Forward

"Jewish Voice for Peace Converges in Baltimore" by Marc Shapiro, March 19, 2015, Baltimore Jewish Times

"At a Jewish Voice For Peace Conference: This Is What Solidarity Looks Like" by Nadia Hijab, March 20, 2015, The Nation

"Surging support for Palestine fuels JVP’s biggest meeting yet" by Alex Kane, March 16, 2015, Mondoweiss

"Inside JVP’s National Membership Meeting" by Nicole Zelniker, March 25, 2015, New Voices Magazine

Comprehensive Storify with photos and tweets:

"JVP National Membership Meeting," by B. Ever Hanna

Jewish Federation Gaza Action

"Protesters Escorted From Philly Jewish Federation in Handcuffs," by Amishai Gottlieb, Eric Berger, and Lisa Hostein, August 8, 2014, Jewish Exponent

"Jewish Voice for Peace Protesters Occupy Lobby, Demand End to Israeli Siege of Gaza," by Joshua Alber, August 9, 2014, Philly Declaration

"Six arrested in civil disobedience at Federation offices in Philly," by Rebecca Alpert, August 9, 2014, Mondoweiss

"Media ignores Jewish anti-war protest at Federation headquarters," by Daniel Denvir, August 11, 2014, City Paper