Rabbi Brian Walt
West Tisburry, MA
Member Since: 2008
New York, NY
When did you become a JVP member?
We go back to 2008 when JVP came to the San Jose General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church – I guess I donated that year. I was so impressed with JVP members who came to help us at that GA back in 2008 – I felt an affinity for the Justice-minded JVPers there instantly and kept visiting them in the booth!
JVP’s passion for justice gave me hope in the midst of much unethical double-standards in the PEPs around me in my own faith community. And I believe that the key to justice in Palestine is in the hands of the U.S. Jewish community, so I am happy to be able to work with JVP towards more and more awakenings in the Jewish community here.
What does social justice mean to you?
As the granddaughter of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and daughter of a dissident under the regime of the last Shah of Iran, I see social justice as treating all people with respect, meeting global needs for food, shelter, health and education so as to provide an equal playing field for all.
And most of all, I see as a key ingredient of social justice not meddling in the affairs of other countries, patronizingly telling them what’s good for them, and then forcing them down the path we deem best.
What connections do you see between your work with the Presbyterian Church and JVP?
Having been and outspoken advocate for justice in the Presbyterian Church, I am heartened by the JVP advocates who have come to our General Assemblies to stand with us on justice for Palestine and telling committee members they don’t need permission from Jews to do the right thing.
JVP has always stressed that Israeli human rights abuses that have impunity do not represent Jewish values. Demolishing a family’s home does not represent Jewish Values. Israeli discrimination based on ethnicity is not a Jewish value. The JVP members that I have worked with and count as my friends are proud of their Jewishness and stand strongly against equating Israeli actions as Jewish actions.
For me, it has been JVP that separates Jewish values and the teaching of the Prophets from the growing brutality of the Israeli occupation, which is presented to the world as actions of the “Jewish state.” I am grateful to JVP for keeping real Jewish values alive.
What inspires you, gives you hope for the future?
What gives me hope for the future is the young and energetic JVP members who are not afraid to stand up to massive powers supporting the status quo. I am inspired by young JVPers who disrupt and protest events that promote Israeli propaganda and are not afraid of being out front in a movement for Palestinian rights.
Seems to me JVPers rightly see the face of God in the faces of Palestinians. JVP members unmask the double-standard in Liberal Zionism. And because of JVP’s bold and fearless members, the position of the Liberal Zionists who think they can have it both ways (be liberal and zionists at the same time), has become more and more untenable.
So even in the darkest days during the Gaza War, or in the dark aftermath of the Paris and Brussels attacks, I have hope in the fearless and righteous members of JVP who stand up for equal rights for all and for real Jewish values.