Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICES:
Q: Why are you a Jewish group? Can’t you just be a peace group?
Some organizations in the Canadian Jewish community claim to speak for all Jews while giving unquestioning support to Israel, such as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), whose website states that the Centre works “on behalf of the vibrant and varied Jewish community across Canada.” IJV was founded by Jews who want to tell other Jews as well as non-Jews that there are Jewish Canadians who adhere to universal values and are determined to speak out against Israeli violations of human rights and international law. We are independent of groups like CIJA, and we proudly aim to make our voices heard throughout Canada and abroad.
We believe that Jews have a special role to play both in changing Canadian policy with regard to Israel, and in educating our fellow Jews about the realities in Israel-Palestine. Israel claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people, and it is up to us to make sure that the world knows that many Jews are opposed to Israel’s crimes. More importantly, as long as criticism of Israel is blocked by accusations of anti-Semitism, it is the responsibility of Jews of conscience to stand up for freedom of speech. Criticism of a state’s laws and policies is not at all anti-Semitic, unless you equate the Jewish people with a modern political entity.
As Jews, we have been given a privileged voice on this issue. Israel claims to represent us, and it is therefore incumbent upon us to loudly proclaim “not in our name.” As Jews, we can make the distinction between real anti-Semitism and the cynical manipulation of the term, which has been used to shield Israel from public scrutiny.
Q: I have heard of other Jewish peace groups. What makes IJV different?
Some Jewish groups claim that they stand for peace but often end up rationalizing the latest in Israeli transgressions. IJV’s purpose is to criticize Israel when it violates international law or Palestinian human rights, despite this being an unpopular position to take in both the Canadian Jewish community and broader Canadian society.
IJV also stands apart from so-called Jewish peace groups by focusing not simply on the supposed good will of the American and Israeli political elite to end their systematic injustices against the Palestinians through unbalanced ‘peace’ negotiations, but on promoting justice so that a long-lasting peace that is rooted in humanistic and Jewish values can occur. A just peace can only occur in the absence of Israel’s systematic human rights violations of the Palestinian people. We cannot let Israel and the United States impose solutions on the Palestinians—with Canada following blindly.
Q: Do I have to be Jewish to join IJV?
You have to be Jewish to be a member of IJV. But if you share our values and are not Jewish, we invite you to become an “IJV supporter”, which allows you the right to participate equally to members in local chapter initiatives. Only members can vote for resolutions at our General Membership Meetings and serve as members of the Steering Committee.
Q: How can I get involved?
You can start by joining Independent Jewish Voices! Becoming a member is easy. You can join by filling out this form, and if you are not unwaged, by paying member dues that fit your comfort level. Or you can join by sending a cheque to the address at the bottom of the page. The more you give, the more support you give for the work we’re doing.
You can also subscribe to our online action alerts. Tell us where you are, and we can refer you to an IJV chapter in your area or to one of our many allies throughout Canada and the world who are doing similiar work to us.
Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated, and will go a long way toward helping the besieged people of Palestine.
ABOUT INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICES POLICIES:
Q: Is IJV Zionist, anti-Zionist, or post-Zionist?
IJV does not define itself with regard to Zionism. Our members hold a variety of views on the situation in Israel-Palestine. We welcome people with different political points of view, asking only that they hold to our core principles:
- An end to Israeli occupation of Arab lands occupied in 1967.
- Equality for all citizens, within one state or two.
- Acknowledgement of the Palestinian right of return.
Q: What is IJV’s position: one state or two states?
IJV does not take a position on this matter. We see it as something that must be arrived at through non-coercive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We do insist, however, that whether the ultimate decision is to opt for one or two states, all citizens must enjoy equal rights.
Q: What is IJV’s position regarding Palestinian refugees?
IJV supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties. Peace will only be possible when Israel acknowledges the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and negotiates a just and mutually agreed solution based on principles established in international law, including return, compensation and/or resettlement.
Q. Do you support boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel?
In response to decades of Israeli intransigence, IJV adopted the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations. In our view, this is a non-violent way to bring pressure on Israel and compel it to make the changes necessary for a real peace, rooted in justice for all – an approach which Israel has otherwise resisted. We support groups like the United Church of Canada that have embraced a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements.