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July 16, 2013 1

Jewish Group To Hold Anti-Israel Protests On Tisha B’Av

As many Jews around the world today observe Tisha B’Av – a fast day that marks the anniver­sary of the destruc­tion of both Tem­ples in Jerusalem and the Jew­ish people’s exile from the land of Israel – one Jew­ish group is spend­ing the day protest­ing Israel.jvp-tisha b’av-we-divest-day-action

Jew­ish Voice for Peace, a dri­ving force behind the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paign against Israel in the U.S., is help­ing orga­nize a “Day of Action” out­side the offices of TIAA-CREF, a major finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tion, across the coun­try. The protests are being held under the aus­pices of “We Divest,” a coali­tion founded and led by JVP. TIAA-CREF is being tar­geted because it has invest­ments in sev­eral multi­na­tional com­pa­nies that work with Israel.

The finan­cial giant is hold­ing its national share­hold­ers meet­ing today in Char­lotte, North Car­olina. Protests will be held there and out­side TIAA-CREF offices in Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Den­ver, Detroit, Ithaca, Los Ange­les, New York, Philadel­phia, San Fran­cisco and Seattle.

Though today’s protest was not timed to coin­cide with Tisha B’Av, JVP’s activists have noted and appre­ci­ated the sig­nif­i­cance of the con­nec­tion else­where. Yes­ter­day, “The Pales­tin­ian Tal­mud,” a blog run by JVP’s Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil, fea­tured an entry about Tisha B’Av that pro­moted the “Day of Action” against Israel.

While the main­stream Jew­ish com­mu­nity views Tisha B’Av as an oppor­tu­nity to reded­i­cate its com­mit­ment to polit­i­cal sov­er­eignty and sup­port for the Jew­ish state, the blog post chal­lenged the notion that the Jew­ish peo­ple need a land of their own, say­ing: “More times than I can count I’ve heard that Jews will not be safe in the world with­out Israel to pro­tect us. My fam­ily and teach­ers and friends point to time after time of Jews being knocked down, kicked out, killed and say: it will hap­pen again, no mat­ter what. I look at that his­tory and say: it can be dif­fer­ent, it has to be.”

The author, a Recon­struc­tion­ist rab­bini­cal stu­dent named Jes­sica Rosen­berg, acknowl­edges that many Jews spend the day recit­ing prayers (known as Kinot) that mourn the destruc­tion of the Tem­ples, but notes that she will observe the fast by read­ing sto­ries and poems about “Pales­tini­ans who’ve been dis­pos­sessed and expelled from their land.” Rosen­berg acknowl­edges the dif­fi­culty of con­nect­ing mourn­ing about Jew­ish trauma with crit­i­cism of Israel (in her words, the “Pales­tin­ian his­tory and trauma that my com­mu­nity has to reckon with our part in caus­ing”), but com­mits to start­ing this “new ritual.”

This exploita­tion of Jew­ish tra­di­tion to pro­mote an anti-Israel agenda is clas­sic JVP. The group has even pre­vi­ously pub­lished a Passover Hag­gadah that reded­i­cates the 3rd cup of wine to BDS and adds an olive to the Seder Plate to mark the Pales­tin­ian struggle.

In advance of today’s meet­ing, TIAA-CREF was pre­sented with a BDS res­o­lu­tion sup­ported by some of its investors. The com­pany, how­ever, chose not to put the res­o­lu­tion on the bal­lot of res­o­lu­tions that will be con­sid­ered because, as they expressed, the occu­pa­tion isn’t a “sig­nif­i­cant social pol­icy issue.”

The “We Divest” cam­paign was ini­ti­ated in 2010 by JVP, which began cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion at the time call­ing on TIAA-CREF to divest. At present, the peti­tion has close to 21,000 sig­na­to­ries. In 2012, JVP announced that the “We Divest” cam­paign was being trans­formed into a coali­tion com­prised of JVP, the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion, Adalah-NY, the US Pales­tin­ian Com­mu­nity Net­work, Grass­roots Inter­na­tional, and the Amer­i­can Friends Ser­vice Com­mit­tee. As part of its efforts to pres­sure TIAA-CREF to divest from the com­pa­nies that work with Israel, the “We Divest” coali­tion holds reg­u­lar protests and teach-ins and other events pro­mot­ing TIAA-CREF divestment.

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