Full text of declaration:
Previous Ha’aretz article on Young, Jewish and Proud’s “Birthright For All spoof: Birthright for all? Maybe not

Young Jews Occupy Birthright Israel Office in New York
Inspired by global Occupy Protests, Young Jews take back their own community with declaration
November 8, 2011—New York
Contact: Jesse Bacon, jesse AT,
Liza Behrendt, ljbehrendt AT,
Carolyn Klaasen, cskpickles AT,

A group of 10 young Jews with YJP: the young adult wing of Jewish Voice for Peace issued their new declaration “Occupy the Occupiers: a Jewish Call to Action”  in novel form last night. Using the “human microphone” or “people’s microphone” made famous by the Occupy Wall Street protests they interrupted a Birthright Israel Next-sponsored event. The event featured CEO Steven Pease, and was called “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement,” part of Birthright Israel’s Next’s “Wall St.” series. Pease was addressing the question of “Why Jews are disproportionately high achievers?”

The young Jews used the human microphone, one person saying a short phrase and others repeating back, to read a site-specific version of their declaration which calls for young Jews to take similar actions wherever the “1%” of their own community gathers. The disruption will be broadcast on Occupy Wall Street’s video stream. Afterwards, protesters stayed outside to continue reading their declaration and share stories of their experiences of what they saw as  Birthright’s dishonest presentations of Israel. Their numbers more than doubled as passers by joined them. Later that night, via twitter, Birthright Israel offered to “dialogue” with the protesters. Birthright Israel was previously the target of a Young, Jewish, and Proud spoof email offering a fictional “Birthright for All” trip that included Palestinians.

Noting the incongruity of inviting a CEO representing the “1%” while Occupy Wall Street rages a few miles away, participant Carolyn Klaasen noted

“For weeks now, I have been proudly protesting at Occupy Wall Street with other Jews and celebrating Jewish holidays in Zuccotti Park. I feel that such actions are far more in line with Jewish tradition than this event, which lifted up as a model of ‘success’  people like illegal settlement builder Lev Leviev who profit from exploitation of others. That is part of the problem we’re protesting in the Occupy movement.”

Liza Behrendt, participant, adds “Birthright is a symptom of a larger structural problem in the Jewish institutional world in which our version of the 1%, a handful of wealthy donors including people like the Schustermans or Sheldon Adelson, is able to dictate the social and political agenda of the 99%. That’s because Jewish institutions are so dependent on the 1% for funds.

In the case of Birthright, hundreds of millions of private and now Israeli public dollars are being spent on free propaganda trips for predominantly middle and upper class American Jews while urgent needs in the United States and Israel go unmet.  At the same time, within the dominant Jewish institutions, like Hillel, critical thinking about israel is not only discouraged but actively suppressed.”

From the “Occupy the Occupiers” declaration,

We call for young Jews and allies nationwide to join in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and with our Palestinian siblings living under their own form of occupation.  Let us stand up to the 1% in our own community – the powerful institutions that support Israel’s corporate-backed military control of the Palestinian people and act as the gatekeepers for our community.”


Young Jews launch new video calling for voice in Jewish community on Israel
Video released in conjunction with High Holidays essay supporting young Jewish adults by Rabbi Brant Rosen
Contact: Jesse Bacon, Jesse AT

[September 27, 2011, New York]

Young, Jewish, and Proud, the group responsible for the protests disrupting the speech of Benjamin Netanyahu in New Orleans almost a year ago, launched a new video ( for the Jewish High Holidays as the issue of Palestinian statehood roiled the United Nations. The video was created by nearly 40 young Jews between the ages of 18 and 36 and features their manifesto about the need for the Jewish community to recognize the voice of youth on its most intractable issue the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The video was accompanied by the release of a High Holidays essay by Brant Rosen, pulpit rabbi at the first “green” certified synagogue in the world and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council. In it, he quotes a biblical verse about God heeding the youth Ishmael “where he is” to support the organized Jewish community heeding the message of Young, Jewish, and Proud.

Quote from Jesse Bacon, video participant: “We delivered the manifesto in person to Netanyahu through our protest, and now we are speaking directly to the camera, but the message is the same. Listen to the voice of young Jews arguing for a more open, diverse, and critical community or see your fears of losing the youth come true.”

Quote from Brant’s essay: “In the Torah portion for the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read that when God saves the life of young Ishmael in the wilderness, “God heeded the cries of the boy where he is.” (Genesis 21:17) In other words, God was able to find Ishmael by truly listening to him. Not to where God wanted him to be or were God thought he should be, but where he was.

On this New Year, I fervently hope our community can do the same with our Jewish youth. These young Jews certainly have every reason to be disenchanted with the organized Jewish community, but for some reason they refuse to go away.  Indeed, they are knocking loudly at our door. Do we, the gatekeepers of the Jewish community, have the vision, the faith and the courage to open it up and let them in?”

Quote from Young, Jewish, and Proud manifesto, “We refuse to allow our identities to be cut, cleaned, packaged nicely, and sold back to us. We won’t be won over by free vacations and scholarship money. We won’t buy the logic that slaughter means safety. We will not quietly witness the violation of human rights in Palestine. We refuse to become the mother who did not scream when wise King Solomon resolved to split her baby in two.

Embed code for video: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

PRESS RELEASE Jewish Voice for Peace, Israelis and Palestinians: Two
Peoples, One Future

For Contacts:

Young Jews Challenge American Jewish Leadership At Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans.

Disrupt Bibi Netanyahu speech to say Israel’s own behavior is making
it a pariah, not student and peace groups that are trying to stop
Israeli human rights violations

[November 8, 2010, New Orleans] A group of young Jews with the Young
Leadership Institute of Jewish Voice for Peace has traveled to the
largest gathering of Jewish leaders in the US, the Jewish Federation
General Assembly, to confront leaders on an approach to saving
Israel’s reputation and building young Jewish identity they say
actually turns young Jews away.

Five of the young adults, including 3 Israelis and Israeli–Americans,
disrupted a speech this morning by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi
Netanyahu with banners that said: and

and one of the below-

The Settlements Delegitimize Israel
The Occupation Delegitimizes Israel
The Siege of Gaza Delegitimizes Israel
The Loyalty Oath Delegitimizes Israel
Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel

The young Jews’ website,,  presents the
group’s Young Jewish Declaration, a compelling vision of collective
identity, purpose and values written as an invitation and call to
action for  peers who care about Israel and Palestine. It is also a
strong challenge to elders.

These actions are in part a protest of the Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA) and Jewish Public Affairs Council (JCPA) newly
announced $6 million dollar program to target campus, church, peace
and human rights groups that are working to end Israel’s human rights
violations through nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
pressure campaigns. The Federations and JCPA are calling this
initiative the “Israel Action Network.”  Critics say it is a “Shoot
the Messenger” approach.

“We’re here to call out the elephant in the middle of the room. Israel
continues to expropriate Palestinian land for Jewish-only
communities,passes increasingly racist laws in the Knesset, the
foreign minister wants to strip Palestinian citizens of their
citizenship — these are the reasons Israel is becoming a pariah in
the world, NOT the human rights groups that are using nonviolent
economic pressure to hold Israel accountable. We would be dismissing
the values we were raised on if we did not speak up.”

Eitan Isaacson, Israeli-American, Seattle

“The Jewish establishment thinks that all we want are free trips to
Israel and feel-good service projects. That is in insult to our
intelligence and to the Jewish values we were brought up on. What we
want is for the American Jewish community to stand up and say that
Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights are wrong and
that we will not continue to support it with our dollars, our
political strength and our moral abilities. We are the next generation
of American Jews, proud of our heritage, strongly committed to Jewish
life. We live our Jewish values in opposing Israel’s human rights
violations and we invite – no, implore –all Jews to join in this
urgent struggle.”

Hanna King, Swarthmore College, Philadelphia

“We were surprised by how many other young Jews were enthusiastic
about the perspective that we brought to the General Assembly. It was
scary to ask questions of sometimes hostile panelists, but in fact
many people our age were supportive and even asked their own critical
questions. We realized this is a terrific opportunity to organize.”

Antonia House, graduate student, NYU

“Right now, the choice for those of us who care about the future of
Israel and Palestine is between the status quo— which includes
continued settlement expansion, the siege of Gaza, and the racist
Israeli foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman– or Boycotts, Divestment
and Sanctions. Given that choice, Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions
will win every time.”

Matan Cohen, Israeli, Hampshire College

The students also announced the creation of a spoof Birthright Trip
called Taglit-Lekulanu, Birthright for
All, open to Palestinian and Jewish-Americans which they followed up
with a spoof denial. The goal of the spoof was to highlight the
one-sided narrative that Birthright presents, the ways it renders
Palestinians invisible. The rebuttal laid bare the problematic
assumptions underlying Birthright such as the emphasis on marrying
Jews and procreating.

Participants in the institute include students from schools as diverse
as UCLA, NYU, UC Berkeley, Hampshire, and Swarthmore.

A new Jewish Voice for Peace campus chapter was recently started at
Brandeis University.

ABOUT JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACEJewish Voice for Peace is America’s largest Jewish grassroots peace
group dedicated to reaching a just peace between Israelis and
Palestinians based on the principles of equality and international
human rights law.

JVP recently led a campaign to support Israeli artists’ boycott of the
Ariel settlement. The campaign secured the signatures  of over 200
artists dozens of Broadway and Hollywood’s leading figures including
Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Theodore Bikel, Eve Ensler, Julianne
Moore, Mandy Patinkin, Miriam Margolyes, Cynthia Nixon, Roseanne Barr,
Ethan Hawke, Ed Asner, the architect Frank Gehry and more.

JVP works with activists in Palestine and Israel, and in broad
coalition with other Jewish, Arab-American, faith-based, and peace and
social justice organizations to support the aspirations of Israelis
and Palestinians for justice, security and self-determination.

Jewish Voice for Peace calls for:

* A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law
* An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem
* A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with international law and equity
* An end to all violence against civilians

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6 Responses to Press

  1. Pingback: Occupying the occupiers [Other Voices] « New Voices

  2. Pingback: This Hanukkah, help shatter the “Israel barrier”

  3. Syd Walker says:

    Very courageous action, well planned and extremely effective. Well done also for recording your demonstration for posterity.

  4. Pingback: Martine Aubry veut jumeler Lille avec Safed, la ville la plus raciste d’Israël, selon Haaretz | La Feuille de Chou

  5. akram ElKurd says:

    Can we open a dialogue? One declaration endorsement warrants another. Hope to hear from you soon


  6. khaled says:

    Dear Madam/Sir
    my name is khaled i am a palestenian from east jerusalem i came to the uk to study medicine, and after graduating i wanted to go back home, but was prevented from doing so for no good reason. i sank into despair, and lost hope that there is any human kindness in israel. till i saw ur vdeo and ur slogans in tackling Mr NATANYAHU.
    u have a great call on ur ands, i feel that there is still hope in peace with people like u around.
    i am proud to make ur aqwantance, and hope that u will carry on.
    it is only people like u who can bring back hope t people that there is still justice to all, wither they are jewish and arabs.

    i wish u strength in ur path