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Annual Report

DIVE IN

Dear Friends,

I’m proud to present this snapshot of JVP’s work in the last year, one of the most wrenching political periods perhaps in US history.

As we reach the one year mark since Donald Trump’s election, I think we can all be proud of the strength, resilience, and reach of JVP as we’ve adapted to this new political reality.

We’ve kept our focus on our core mission of bringing freedom and equality to all people in Israel/Palestine, while building powerful coalitions and speaking up when it matters on deeply connected justice issues, from the attempts at a Muslim ban to preserving the Iran deal and preventing disastrous wars.

Our chapters have provided a spiritual and political home for our members when they need it most, have been out on the streets weekly and sometimes more, and have built powerful new partnerships with communities most under attack.

And we’ve continued to deepen and sharpen our political analysis, while building a strong case to situate justice for Palestinians squarely into the core of the progressive agenda, challenging those speaking out on Trump’s domestic policies to see the parallels with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

And with all that, we’ve also managed to put on our largest and most successful National Member Meeting to date, launched two powerful campaigns (the student-led #ReturntheBirthright and the #DeadlyExchange campaign to end US-Israel police exchanges), convinced three dozen Members of Congress – more than at any other point in history – to take specific actions supporting Palestinian human rights, and we’ve deepened our commitment to Jewish communal transformation through ritual resources and supporting emerging congregations with explicit JVP values.

All of this happened because you decided to help make it happen, with your time, your money, and your passion. Time spent on JVP work is often time spent away from family; and speaking out for Palestinian freedom often carries a risk to Jewish community standing. Thank you for the hours you’ve spent, dollars you’ve given, and hope you’ve placed in JVP.

Gratefully,


Rebecca Vilkomerson
,
Executive Director

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A New Era

Working for Equality During the Trump Administration

In the Trump era, millions of people have rededicated themselves to defending equality, justice, and human rights – for everyone. And that’s bringing Palestine closer to the national progressive agenda than ever.

Because we are growing in numbers and power, we are under attack like never before. Congress and 21 states have or are working on anti-free speech legislation that would criminalize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Shadowy blacklists like the “Canary Mission” target activists across the movement. And for the first time that we can find record of, a rabbi was refused entry to the state of Israel – because she works at JVP.

And inside Israel/Palestine, the situation on the ground is arguably worse than ever. The power crisis in Gaza continues without mercy. The occupation has stretched into an unimaginable 50th year, and we’re approaching the 70th year since the Nakba. Meanwhile, Trump and Netanyahu boast that this is the “heyday” of the US/Israel relationship.

These are opposing trends – the movement is getting bigger here, things feel like they are more desperate there. But we believe we’re getting to a point where the power of this movement can start to create conditions where democracy, equality, and justice flourish.

To make good on that promise, JVP has to grow – as both a political force, and as a political home for all of us in this sometimes impossible-seeming world.

That’s what we see as we get ready to burst forward. And it’s all made possible by the work you made real this year.

Our Work

LEGISLATIVE ORGANIZING

We’re mobilizing grassroots power to create a just US foreign policy toward Israel/Palestine. We’re holding elected officials accountable and proving that standing up for Palestinian human rights is essential for any politician who wants to be seen as a true progressive today.

With organizational partners we advocated for congressional letters to the State Department asking them to monitor the trial of human rights defender Issa Amro. Thirty-five Members of Congress signed – an all-time record for Representatives standing up for Palestinian human rights.

We launched our StopBannon.org campaign when Trump appointed him as a White House Advisor, and in August 2017 he was forced to resign.

JVP and other progressive organizations came together to challenge David Friedman’s nomination as US ambassador to Israel. 22,676 JVP supporters took action to tell the Foreign Relations Committee to oppose the appointment.

In 2017, 40 JVP chapters have been involved in national legislative organizing, a 33% increase from 2016.

We hosted over 110 legislative actions over the year, including town halls, meetings and protests, up from 60 in all of 2016.

 

JVP members and supporters attended town halls, challenging their Legislators’ support for AIPAC’s Israel Anti-Boycott Bill, an attack on free speech and the right to boycott. Our members’ passionate explanations of why this legislation is so dangerous convinced both Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand to remove their support – an unprecedented show of our grassroots power.

Jewish Community Transformation

We’re creating Jewish institutions, community networks, and political homes that unite spirituality with solidarity.

A Chavurah is a group of Jews who come together for prayer and ritual outside of a formal synagogue or temple. All over the country, people are setting up these intimate, DIY religious communities explicitly looking for a Judaism beyond Zionism.

There are currently eight chavurot affiliated with JVP, and more in formation. JVP is building a Chavurah Network to help support these growing communities. They represent a new chapter in the history of Jewish communities in the United States, where it’s ok to question Israeli policies and to see Palestinian and Jewish freedom as intertwined.

These community circles are the future of Judaism at its most healthy, vibrant, and inclusive.

No matter where you live, you should be able to be your full political and spiritual self.

 

Our Rabbinic Council continues to offer spiritual and moral guidance in public and through individual pastoral care to our members – paving the way for a new generation of Jewish spiritual and communal leaders to hold onto the promise of equality in Israel/Palestine as an essential next step in the story of our people.

They also work together and support each other in the critical work of helping to lead and build spiritual community that centers justice, equality, and Palestinian human rights.

700 people attended our first High Holiday livestream in 5776. This year we livestreamed seven Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services to 900 people in all 50 states and 13 countries.

45 of JVP Chapters organize or host some sort of ritual or religious service. Even for secular members, JVP seders, shabbat dinners, and other events are pillars of community-building and connection.

Campaigns

Smart campaigns provide roles for every member of our community to be heard and felt as we fight for justice. These campaigns make a real difference in people’s lives, and remove the legal, corporate, and social barriers preventing all people of Israel/Palestine from living as equals in a true democracy.
One of the most dangerous places where the regimes of Trump and Netanyahu converge is in exchange programs that bring together police, ICE, border patrol, and FBI from the US with soldiers, police, and border agents from Israel. We’re pulling up these violent exchanges by their root, and creating new visions of safety that don’t rely on violence, occupation, or apartheid.
End the #DeadlyExchange
We’re Ending US-Israeli Policing Partnerships so we can reclaim safety for all people.
When we’re called to action to thank and defend cultural and political leaders in Palestine, we have to show up – and show up loudly. And when we do that, we make it possible for more people to take leadership – both here and there.

 

When we decided to embrace the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) to hold the Israeli government accountable to international law, we did it because we believe deeply that non-violent direct action is an essential tool for all justice movements.

But in 13 states and in Congress, bills are moving forward that criminalize the BDS movement – and trample on basic free speech protections. JVP members show up at town halls, state capitols, and on the streets to defend our right to Boycott – over 60 actions so far this calendar year and counting.

Media

We project our voice locally, nationally, and globally to amplify the call for Palestinian human rights.

Our media program helped generate 703 unique media hits in 2016, including 456 articles and 114 op-eds – the most ever! In 2017 we have placed over 500 to date, in a media landscape more crowded than ever. The frame of our stories is simple: increasingly, progressives and Jews in the US view US policy toward Israel/Palestine through the same set of values they apply to other political issues.

 

“JVP’s media training gave me tools to proudly represent JVP at rallies, protests, and press engagements, and strengthened my understanding of the ways Palestine is (and isn’t) represented in the media.”

– Gabby Spear, JVP New York City chapter member

 

196,000,000

Saw JVP Content on Facebook

443,857

Facebook Followers

63,551

Twitter Followers

Network Against Islamophobia (NAI)

Islamophobia is a key organizing principle of political life in both the US and in Israel - and shows up in policy, pop culture, daily experiences of violence, and the relationship between our governments. JVP’s Network Against Islamophobia challenges Islamophobic violence – both individual and structural, in Jewish communities, and especially as directed against Palestinians.

In dozens of cities around the US, hundreds of people have canvassed their neighborhoods, asking local businesses to put beautiful signs in their windows, letting patrons and community members know that “All are Welcome Here.” These posters have become iconic images in communities across the country.

Over 10,000 posters have been distributed in shops, at political actions, and in homes across the country.

 

We believe that it’s especially powerful and important for Jews to visibly challenge Islamophobia. So NAI takes it to the streets throughout the year and with a nationally coordinated Hannukah action that shines a light on our commitment to fighting bigotry, discrimination, and state violence.

Islamophobia is so entrenched that it can be invisible to those who don’t experience it personally. Our curriculum helps our leaders and allies deepen their understanding of Islamophobia including systems, patterns, and interpersonal dynamics that exist in our communities and institutions.

 

Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus in Solidarity with Palestine (JOCSM)

We are Jews of Color, Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews (JOCSM), an autonomous caucus, organizing for justice in Palestine and transformation in our communities. We are focused on combatting US, Israeli and other state-based racisms, understanding that liberation for Palestinians, People of Color (POC) and JOCSM are interconnected. To join us in building this transnational movement contact jocsm18@gmail.com.
Our first JOCSM convening was in March 2017. Over 100 of us gathered to address anti-blackness in our communities, shared stories of resistance and decolonization, and explored links between global struggles for justice. Palestinians and POCs joined us.

 

Throughout the 2017 National Member Meeting, we brought JOCSM voices for justice to plenaries and workshops, countering white Ashkenazi hegemony.

In December 2016, Sedq: the Global Jewish Network for Justice met in Johannesburg, South Africa. Due to caucus recruitment, fifteen of 30 participants were JOCSM. Sedq committed to anti-racism, anti-militarism and combatting white Ashkenazi dominance in the global struggle for Palestinian liberation.

 

 

We launched UNRULY in October, 2016, where we draw connections between the Movement for Black Lives, indigenous struggles, Palestinian political prisoners, JOCSM resistance and critiques of white Ashkenazi positionality.

In April 2017, the JOCSM caucus organized a three-week US tour for Reuven Abergel, co-founder of the Israeli Black Panthers and an elder and mentor for JOCSM communities. He met with US-based communities working for social justice, drawing connections between historic and present struggles against white supremacy, zionism, colonialism, and racism. See the documentary short of Reuven talking about the Israeli Black Panthers and the relationships between different movements for justice.

The JOCSM caucus held antiracism workshops for JVP staff, board, the Bay Area chapter, and Midwest activists. These are first steps to address the antiracist and multiracial commitment and accountability that JVP aspires to, from JOCSM perspectives.

The caucus centers disability justice as a critical component to our work. We sought training and then strategically partnered with JVP, prioritizing accessibility at the NMM.

We are excited to build our movement, bringing our efforts together. If you are JOCSM, have questions, or would like to support or join our movement, contact us at jocsm18@gmail.com and follow us on facebook.

Campus

Students and professors on campuses across the U.S. are fostering thoughtful debate, building coalitions, and waging Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. Our opponents know campuses are an essential battleground, and have poured tens of millions of dollars into stopping us - but we’re the ones gaining ground.
Every year students and professors who are working for Palestinian human rights come under attack. Their tenure tracks are threatened, their student groups are banned, and campus speakers are cancelled. However, this climate is rapidly shifting towards one that upholds free speech alongside Palestinian rights:

 

 

  • Among college students, support for Israel fell from 71% in 2010 to 54% in 2016.
  • 84% of Jewish college students leaned toward the Israeli side of the conflict in 2010, in 2016 57% did.
  • Among students, support for Palestinian rights grew more than sixfold between 2010 and 2016, from 2% to 13%.

In the last year, six campuses passed divestment resolutions. Students are working on many others, and expect at least three more will be passed this academic year.

Last year five new JVP campus chapters launched – for a total of 19.
In 2016, over 250 academics joined the Academic Advisory Council. Today 1,009 professors, graduate students, and researchers make up the council.

In July, we partnered with close allies to host a unique three-day political organizing intensive for students, with 55 student leaders from campuses around the country in attendance.

And every December we host an Alternative Winter Break for members of JVP’s Student Network, zeroing in on their specific work as accountable Jewish leaders.

Your Impact

At the end of the day there is only the impact we are aiming for: freedom, equality, and dignity for people of Israel/Palestine. And here is the proof we’re getting closer:

%

of Americans think Israelis and Palestinians are entitled to equal human rights.

%

of American Jews don’t think Israel is a democracy

%

%

Liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis

We know there are millions of people who support JVP’s perspective who aren’t with us yet. And we are already reaching them – with our values-based messages, our community building, and our campaigns.

Your support was the engine behind our successes this year – and in the coming year, we’re going to be able to do even more to convert the shift in public opinion into policy change.

Building A New Jewish Community

“I was at the first JVP National Member Meeting in 2007, and was inspired to be a part of a scrappy organization that could hold a vision for Palestinian liberation in the face of so much hostility from Jewish institutions. Ten years later, the organization has grown incredibly in size and power due to amazing leadership from the members, staff, and board. I came away from this year’s NMM with a beautiful glimpse of a world where, as Fadi Quran suggested, everyone gets to follow their dreams, direct their destiny, and be fully in their dignity.”

– Wendy Somerson

“I love walking down a street in Oakland and seeing our “We stand with our Muslim, Arab and immigrant neighbors” signs. When we ask shopkeepers to post the signs, sometimes they hug us; they appreciate having something to DO to fight the hatred. Our canvassers have ranged in age from 9 months to 90 years – Jews, Muslims, Christians, more – it’s been terrific community-building!”

– Penny Rosenwasser

“This was the first Jewish service I have attended in 20 years. What made it uniquely special wasn’t just the beautiful music, and the wonderful rabbi leading the service, what spoke most deeply personally to me was the message of our collective Jewish responsibility for speaking up to injustice and taking bold action to address it.”

– Roberta Spieckerman

Financials

Regardless of what you give, we know every gift is a declaration of your values. We’re committed to making the best possible use of every dollar, and our grassroots fundraising model means we are accountable to you and our shared vision.

Over the last five years we have seen our donor and member base grow from 4,855 people to over 13,500.

Over the last five years we have seen our donor and member base grow from 4,855 people to over 13,500.

The vast majority of our funds go to our organizing and communications programs, and we’re strategically investing in the infrastructure we need for the future of this movement.

The vast majority of our funds go to our organizing and communications programs, and we’re strategically investing in the infrastructure we need for the future of this movement.

Statement of Financial Position

Statement of Activities

Facing the Future

We have to be bold if we’re going to make the change we want: a fundamentally new US policy toward Israel/Palestine that prioritizes human rights for all.

The only way we can achieve human rights for all is through a grassroots movement demanding justice, equality, and dignity for all people.

Enough American Jews support this vision that we know we can do it – if every one of us brings our organizing talents to this work. And starting this year, we’re launching an initiative to do just that.

Today we have 13,000 members. By the end of 5778 we want 19,000. And within 5 years, we want to have 60,000.

We want to create a political and spiritual home where all of us can express our commitment to justice and be seen, held, and challenged to be our best selves.

And we want your to help make it happen. Whether as a chapter leader, donor, online-action-taker, or brand new supporter, 5778 is going to be a big year for JVP; join us in making it possible.