Jewish Institutions Must Condemn Hate Groups

Published April 21, 2016, issue of April 21, 2016.

Last week Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) disrupted a community forum addressing instances of racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism in Newton public schools. The disruptors, identifying themselves as “Jewish activists,” insisted that anti-Semitism was the only form of bigotry worth addressing.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston condemns this disruption and APT’s broader mission as racist and Islamophobic. We are also disappointed that other Boston-area Jewish institutions missed a vital opportunity to condemn this bigotry in our community.

To their credit, the local American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) issued a statement condemning the disruption, declaring that “the struggle against anti-Semitism does not take place in a vacuum.” However, they failed to condemn APT as a hate group or defend the Muslims they have attacked while falsely claiming to fight anti-Semitism.

Furthermore, they validated APT’s attacks on Newton public schools by labeling the inclusion of Palestinian narratives in school curriculum as “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias.” By conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israeli policy, all three of these organizations silence Palestinians and hinder our community’s ability to address actual anti-Semitism.

APT’s hateful attacks on Muslims are well documented, targeting everyone from the city’s largest mosque to the first Muslim elected official in Massachusetts. Jewish communities cannot continue to excuse Islamophobia in the name of defending Israel. If AJC and JCRC wish to take a principled position against bigotry, they must unequivocally condemn APT as a hate group.

Liza Behrendt, Organizer, Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston

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