JVP Rabbinical council on charges against Irvine 11
Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of his own family and does not do so is held responsible and liable for the transgressions of his family. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the people of his community and does not do so is liable for the transgressions of his community. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is liable for the transgressions of the entire world.
- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 54b
We, the rabbis of Jewish Voice for Peace, stand in solidarity with the Irvine 11's right to engage in civil disobedience, one of America's most sacred democratic principles. We urge the District Attorney's office of Orange County to immediately stop efforts to criminalize the actions of these Muslim students who, in the long-standing tradition of non-violent activism for social justice, protested the speech of the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren.
It is clear that there are double standards for protest in the United States. Last November, the members of Young, Jewish and Proud, the young activist arm of Jewish Voice for Peace, were let go after similarly disrupting a speech by the Israeli Prime Minister in front of a much larger audience in New Orleans. Instead of facing sanctions or criminal charges, their actions were lauded by many writers in Israeli and Jewish papers and news outlets across the world. In stark contrast, 11 Muslim students faced unprecedented sanctions both at the University of California and now from the office of the District Attorney which has empaneled a grand jury.
Apart from being deeply concerned by the actions of the Orange County District Attorney's Office, we want to express our support for the message of those who interrupted Ambassador Oren. We believe that four decades of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine calls us to interrupt business as usual. Students that stood in public and voiced their passionate concern over policies of siege, home demolition, targeted destruction of infrastructure and ongoing dispossession of people from their land had a right to confront Ambassador Oren, and hold him and his government accountable for actions that were deemed as war crimes by the Goldstone Report. We believe we have an obligation, according to the dictates of our tradition, to raise our voices in protest of policies that violate international and humanitarian law, especially when they are carried out in our name.
Rabbi Haim Beliak, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer, Pomona, CA
Rabbi Alissa Wise, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Margaret Holub, Mendocino, CA
Rabbi Lynn Gottleib, Stony Point, NY
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Rebecca T. Alpert, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi David Mivasair, Vancouver, BC
Rabbi Shai Gluskin, Philadephia, PA
Rabbi Brian Walt, West Tisbury, MA
Rabbi Michael Feinberg, NY, NY
Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jamaica Plain, MA
Susie Schwartz, Rabbinical Student, Boston, MA
David Basior, Rabbinical Student, Philadelphia, PA