Statement in Support of the PennBDS Conference, February 3rd-5th, 2012
Jewish Voice for Peace, as an organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for equality,
human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals, is
proud to support and participate in the PennBDS conference to take place February 3-5th, 2012
on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is a time-honored, non-violent tactic that has been
used in a multitude of historic struggles for justice, including the civil rights movement, the
struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, and the fight for fair wages and working conditions
for farmworkers, to name just a few examples. In 2005, the Palestinian Boycott National
Committee, representing a majority of Palestinian Civil Society, put out a call to engage in BDS
until Israel complies with international law and with principles of human rights. As a conditional
call that will end when conditions of oppression end; and that targets state policies, not the
Jewish people, JVP does not view the call as Anti-Semitic. In fact, many Jewish people around
the world have endorsed the call, including the Israelis of Boycott from Within.
PennBDS has made admirable attempts to reach out to the Jewish community both on campus
and in Philadelphia. It has invited speakers with a range of views, and has emphasized
repeatedly that it welcomes respectful debate at the conference itself. We are deeply
disappointed that the Jewish community of Philadelphia has responded with condemnation to an
open discussion on campus of legitimate tactics in pursuit of democracy and equality.
We urge those who wish to learn more about the BDS movement to engage in discussion and
debate. One of the great strengths of the BDS movement is that it provides an opportunity for
just these kinds of discussions. We look forward to the PennBDS conference as one such venue.
The silencing of conversation around the Palestinian Call for BDS in Jewish Communities,
particularly on campuses, has led JVP to initiate our "Go & Learn" project--an effort to create
the much needed space for young Jews to talk about and seek to understand the BDS movement–
no matter their political position. JVP invites all who are interested to join their local Go &
Learn event in the coming months for an evening of thinking, discussing, and reflecting on the
Palestinian call for BDS through Jewish text study, self-reflection, history, and dialogue.
JVP Position on BDS is available here.