In 2003, anti-Israel groups such as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and its university-based student arm, the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), unveiled a new strategy aimed at undermining support for Israel among American Jews. Members were told how to infiltrate Jewish organizations in America, while claiming to present “another point of view” on Israel. Their mission: To advance the notion that enlightened Jews do not support Israel.
A leader in this strategy is a Berkeley, California, group called A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). JVP was founded by Mitchell Plitnick, a former 60’s Berkeley radical who emerged on the activist scene as the Palestine Solidarity Movement grew after its creation in 2001. As a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, JVP’s platform is to convince American Jews that Israel is the main hindrance to any peace because of its “occupation” of Arab lands. This means all of Israel, not just lands taken in 1967. Consequently, JVP views any effort by Israel to defend itself simply as a perpetuation of this unjust "occupation."
In the earliest JVP newsletters, Plitnick even went so far as to write that it is doubtful that Jews ever lived in the Holy Land at all and that they were probably from Khazaria in Russia, thus not indigenous to the region like their Arab cousins. He has written that the exodus and the First Temple were just myths, designed to legitimize a Jewish state in the region, and now used as a publicity ploy by modern Jews to steal a state from the Arabs. Similar canards were used by the PLO to legitimize its terror war against Israel.
JVP wages war by other means. For instance, JVP’s website encourages IDF soldiers to desert. It also promotes divestment from Israel, along with support for Arab leaders like Mazen Qumsiyeh, who called Jews living in Israel “a disease.” (Unsurprisingly, JVP has mourned the deaths of Yasser Arafat and Sheik Ahmed Yassin of Hamas, who murdered hundreds of Jews in terrorist attacks.) Plitnick and his acolytes in JVP attend conclaves held by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. The latter is a Saudi-funded front group that promotes divestment from Israel and boycotts of Israeli products. JVP’s fellow attendees at these events speak volumes: Al Awda, the openly anti-Semitic organization that seeks the end of Israel, Alison Weir of the group If Americans Knew, and assorted ISM groups, all calling for the dismantling of Israel. JVP also praised the Presbyterian Church's boycott of Israel.
In sum, JVP sells an ideological bill of goods to pacifist and liberal American Jews who do not always know what it is really doing or promoting. In effect, it is a Jewish front for anti-Israel activities by Arab and American anarchist groups. Yet dishonesty has paid political dividends: JVP has already made inroads in Hillel, particularly at UC Berkeley, where it posed as a "liberal voice on campus." Falsely claiming support for Israel, it worked with the Students for Justice in Palestine to boycott Israel.
Equally dubious are the JVP’s accounting practices.
JVP engages in lobbying that it has not reported to the IRS. Its civil disobedience activities, , may also violate IRS Rev Rule 75-384. Civil disobedience encourages lawbreaking, a reason for revocation of nonprofit status. Extensive lobbying or propaganda is also not permitted. A review of Jewish Voice for Peace’s 501 (c) 3 nonprofit report for 2005 reveals the following possible violations under taxpayer ID #EIN 90-0018359:
First, as shown by Part VI-A of Jewish Voice for Peace's Form 990 for 2005, the organization reported no expenditures for lobbying or efforts to influence public opinion on legislation.
This is at variance with an item on its own Web site that says, “On August 15, about 50 members and supporters gathered in front of Nancy Pelosi's office to demand that Congress push for the removal of all [Israeli] settlements.”
Second, JVP has in the past misrepresented the nature of its political activities. Consider the following letter, appended to the organization's 2005 Annual Report:
Letter from the Directors
…JVP is a trusted source for media, and we’re becoming more influential. Thanks to our supporters, we are fast becoming a force that our congressional representatives need to reckon with. Leaders of groups that give Israel their blind support are working hard against us specifically because we not only shatter their myth of representing all Jews – we show they don’t even represent a majority…
Liat Weingart, Mitchell Plitnick
Directors of JVP
How can JVP tell the IRS that it made no effort whatsoever to influence legislation or public opinion about legislation, while telling its members what a powerful lobbying force they have become?
We finally note that JVP checked “no” for VI-B, item h (rallies, demonstrations, and so on) even thought the groups own Web site reports that “On August 15, about 50 members and supporters gathered in front of Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand that Congress push for the removal of all settlements” and even displays a photograph.
Members of JVP-Bay Area and supporters protest outside of Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. Signs say "Remove ALL settlements" and "Gaza is the tip of the iceberg."
It is imperative that the IRS put a stop to such abuses. Manipulating the tax code, masking its true intentions and promoting war under the guise of “peace,” the JVP serves only to make a true peace settlement between Palestinian Arabs and Israel impossible.
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