Earlier this week, Matt Kolbert, J Street U Vassar co-chair, and our treasurer, Ben Rothman, attended a meeting with the VSA [Vassar Student ssociation] finance committee. The committee was reviewing our application for funding to attend the HaaretzQ conference, a major conference in New York City next Sunday that seeks to address questions of peace and democracy in Israel and Palestine. Our understanding of the discussion that occurred at this meeting was that some members of finance committee raised the concern that the VSA, as an explicitly anti-racist organization should not fund our attendance of the conference. The logic of this concern was based on the belief that Zionism is an inherently racist ideology, and multiple speakers at the conference identify as Zionists, so supporting our attendance of this conference would be contradicting the VSA's anti-racist stance. Because of this concern, the committee decided they would table the application and allow the greater VSA to discuss and vote on it.J Street U members had the chance to say that they disagree with the notion that Zionism is racism - and it failed. Instead, they said that the HaaretzQ conference isn't racist, but as for Zionism altogether, well....let's not go there.
The concerns raised by the finance committee trouble us deeply for two reasons. First, because we disagree with the notion that this conference is contrary to the VSA's anti-racist values. Second, because our own anti-racist ideologies are the very reason we exist as an organization: to oppose the occupation of the West Bank and fight for a two-state solution. Attending this conference will enable us to advance those goals.
We will seek to convince the VSA to fund our application. The HaaretzQ conference is educational, and all Vassar students have the right to be informed about all sides of world issues. As J Street U, we intend to remain fully independent in our thinking, and hope that we will be able to bring back knowledge will help us in our effort to end the occupation of the West Bank and forge a two-state solution.
A truly pro-Israel organization would have been offended and angry at the equation of Zionism and racism, and would have condemned those words in no uncertain terms. Instead, J-Street U chose to ignore that canard altogether - because these proud, idealistic young people felt that the few hundred dollars they wanted is more important that standing up for their purported principles.
How proud they must be!
It is also interesting that the organization couches its opposition to Jews having equal rights to live in Judea and Samaria, and their support for a Judenrein "Palestine," as "anti-racist."
Then came this:
Thank you to the VSA for enabling us to take further steps in ending the occupation by voting unanimously in favor of accepting our fund app to attend the upcoming Haaretz Peace conference. While we are troubled that our app was tabled at all, we are gracious that we now have the opportunity to attend the conference.Explicitly saying that Zionists are racists "may have anti-Zionist implications"? wow, what brave fighters they are for Israel!
We would like to address two misconceptions that the wider community may have about what has taken place over the past few days. First, prior to tonight’s meeting, the VSA finance committee did not approve nor deny our request for funds to attend this conference, instead they tabled the application so that the wider VSA council could vote on it.
Second, we are under no impression that the decision to table our application for funding was anti-semitic in nature. We understand that it may have had anti-Zionist implications, but J Street U Vassar does not assume that correlates to anti-semitism.
Moreover, J Street U had the chance to proudly stand up for the right for Jews to have their own homeland - and instead their members cowered and refused to say anything negative about the people who want to deny Jews that right. Instead, they cravenly go out of their way to say that they can fully understand why people want to deny Jews any self-determination, and in no way see that as a problem, just another valid opinion that must be respected (as opposed to, of course, those who feel that Jews have the right to live in their ancestral lands, which is completely unacceptable and, according to them, racist.)
The reason that J-Street U cannot proudly say they support a Jewish state is because - they don't support as Jewish state. They support an "Israeli" state. This is JSU-Vassar's Facebook header graphic:
Jews don't have the right to self-determination according to J-Street U. "Israelis" do.
Does that mean that on May 13, 1948, there was no right for Israel to exist? Sure sounds like this is J-Street U's position.
We have seen before that parent organization J-Street also refuses to say that Jews have a right to a Jewish state in their stated principles.
There is a little bit of schadenfreude in this episode where J-Street U felt what it was like to be accused of racism at the same time that they accuse so many other Jews of the same. Yet they clearly didn't learn any lessons from this. Instead, they want to ingratiate themselves with those who want to destroy the Jewish state - for funding.
Now you know what J-Street means when they say they are "pro-Israel."
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