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Rabbi Joseph Berman

Dear Stan,
I want you to remember this moment.

That’s the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation abstaining from the Security Council vote on Friday condemning Israeli settlements. This is a big deal, and a truly positive milestone for our movement to hold Israel accountable under international law. It’s not something you see everyday -- or something we’re likely to see while Trump is President.
But Trump will not be President forever. And every day that he is in office, we’ll be working to get back to this kind of moment: when the collective power of our movements changes U.S. foreign policy for for the better.
The Trump administration promises to be horrible for Palestinian human rights -- and that’s why Netanyahu and AIPAC have wasted no time in publicly lining up behind him. Trump’s feverish advocacy against this UN resolution, along with his appointment of far-right settlement activist David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, show that he’s planning to pursue an agenda even more extreme than Netanyahu’s.
But Trump and Friedman are also dropping a huge opportunity in our lap: to shatter the bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should always ignore Palestinian human rights, and support Israeli policies.
I believe we can shatter that consensus. Because we’ve already notched up real wins.
Earlier this month, we swung into action and beat back an attempt to officially label activism for Palestinian human rights as antisemitic. We helped Rep. Hank Johnson and 10 other Members of Congress to publicly call on the State Department to investigate Israel’s human rights violations. We stood with Senator Patrick Leahy as he demanded that the law that bears his name be applied to Israel, too. And together with our allies at the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, we helped Rep. Betty McCollum lead 19 of her colleagues to demand that President Obama use his power to protect Palestinian children.
Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for elected officials to publicly and proudly take a stand for Palestinian human rights. But that’s what the signatories of these letters did: they broke with the “Israel at all costs” consensus in DC. This didn’t happen by accident: it happened because you and I and JVP’s 60 chapters across the country built relationships, lobbied hard, and created the political space for these politicians to speak out.
Even if the coming years of our work are going to be exponentially harder, we’re going to keep moving forward. We’ve spent years developing the relationships, the infrastructure, and the analysis that this moment demands, and we’re ready to get to work.
So when Trump tries to advance any of his horrifying policies, we’ll be there to fight back, especially in support of our Muslim sisters and brothers. We’ll fight any attempts to impose an immigration ban, expand the racist surveillance state, establish a Nazi-esque registry, or attack Muslim civil society.
And we’ll do that work not just because it’s the right thing to do. But also because Islamophobia in the U.S. benefits and is promoted by the same institutions who seek to silence our movement, and shield Israel from international law.
When the Trump presidency is over, my goal isn’t just to get back to where we are today. I want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with the other progressive groups advancing a proactive, positive vision for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine that puts racial justice, human rights, and equality for all at its center.
So if we are called to “play defense” in 2017, and to fight for the basic rights of our friends and neighbors, then that’s what we’ll do. And we’ll make the fight the foundation on which we’ll realize our vision of peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.
Thank you for standing with us all year. Thank you for being the foundation on which our strength is built. I’m nervous and scared for the fights that lie ahead, but with you at my side, I believe that we will win.
L’shalom - towards peace,
Rabbi Joseph
Rabbi Joseph Berman
Government Affairs Manager
Jewish Voice for Peace is an international movement of people inspired by Jewish traditions to work together for peace, justice, and equality for all people of Israel-Palestine. We are diverse, welcoming, and undaunted by the magnitude of change we seek. Please help keep JVP strong by giving here or - better yet - becoming a monthly donor here.

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