We are a collective of Wellington and Auckland Jews whose views are not represented in the current public discourse on Jewish affairs.
The purpose of our collective is to publicly air Jewish voices and views on issues that are important to Jews.
There are many ways to be a Jew in New Zealand today. We live our Jewish identities differently, but we have a few core principles in common.
We are not Zionists.
We stand up to racism, and we distinguish between anti-Semitism and valid protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Some of us protest by joining organisations that boycott Israel.
Beyond those principles, we are drawn to different aspects of Judaism.
We have come together to demonstrate our breadth, host discussion, and speak out about important issues. We are expressing only personal (and, on occasion, our shared) points of view here. We represent no one else.
We are a collective of individuals who learn from our differences. Because we don’t always agree, we are careful to state whether we are writing or speaking as individuals or on behalf of the group.
Recently, there has been some confusion about our partnerships. Alternative Jewish Voices has no association or partnership with the Palestine Solidarity Network (PSN-A). Specifically, Marilyn Garson and Fred Albert (whose images have at times been circulated in erroneous posts) have never taken part in a PSN-A event. However, other members of AJV may attend or take part in PSN-A events as individuals.
Alternative Jewish Voices often co-operates with Justice for Palestine at whose events we are pleased to speak. And Alternative Jewish Voices is a member of the International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine – IJCJP – an umbrella group of Jewish activist organisations in over a dozen countries.
Alternative Jewish Voices is a conversation. Please join the conversation
on facebook: Sh’ma Koleinu – Alternative Jewish Voices
or on Twitter: Alternative Jewish Voices NZ @JewishNZ
To get to know us better, here is a summary of statements we have made, with links to read in more detail.
Last updated June 23, 2021
- We hold a range of the non-Zionist views that are not represented by NZ Jewish institutional voices. We have challenged the representative nature of those voices here and here. We are neither a membership group nor a rival institution. We want government, media and our neighbours to hear from a more diverse range of Jewish voices. There are many ways to be a Jew.
- We object when we hear groundless accusations of antisemitism. Disagreement is not hatred, and we are disturbed to see attention being diverted from the genuine threat of white supremacist racism. We all need to face that threat together.
- Groundless accusations often reflect the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. The IHRA Working Definition has no official standing whatsoever in Aotearoa-NZ. Nor has its basic assumption that non-Zionism is inherently antisemitic. See our resource page for more on the working definition, including this from an Oxford researcher on its fundamentally misleading advocacy (or Al Jazeera’s summary of the same paper). In March of this year, two hundred scholars produced the Jerusalem Declaration, which we suggest as an interim tool for understanding antisemitic speech. We have written the Jerusalem Declaration Brief and a list of Jerusalem Declaration resources to let readers and policy makers juxtapose the two definitions.
- We regard Israel’s occupation of Palestine as a matter of human equality, our equal personal and political rights. As we read the news and the studies, we try to keep people in the center of our frame.
- We support the One Democratic State Project, a conversation between Israelis and Palestinians about their shared future. We take no position on a number or arrangement of states. Those are questions for citizens to answer. We endorse the ODSP kaupapa that the whole space of Israel and Palestine needs to be transformed by all of its citizens, in the interests of all of its citizens. Our remote role is to level the ground so that all citizens live and negotiate in absolute equality.
- We were the proud guests of Green MP Golriz Ghahraman at the first parliamentary event to focus on the rights of Palestinian children. We spoke in support of Palestinian members of Justice for Palestine. Following that event, Young Labour endorsed our joint call to recognise the State of Palestine.
- Our human equality implies a set of actions grounded in law and in our human and collective political rights. Equality is not anti-Jewish; it is not anti-anyone. Rights are not a zero-sum good. They belong in the economy of abundance: the more freedom and dignity we all have, the more we can make.
- We advocate for the recognition of Palestinians equal individual and collective political rights, including the right to self-determination. We seek the recognition of the State of Palestine, so that Palestinians negotiate and speak equally, as of right, about their resources, their experience and their future. Although we take no position on the number of states that should emerge, we point out that recognition is consistent with the NZ government’s stated support for two states, and with our leadership on UN Resolution 2334.
- We have repeatedly called for our government to uphold the international laws and conventions that it signs in our names, especially the Geneva Conventions. Occupied people are legally protected people, and we own the laws of protection. We will be expanding on this in the coming season when we ask, how can we move from the perspective of power to the perspective of justice? How might a future-facing policy look?
- During May, AJV members spoke at rallies for Sheikh Jarrah and Nakba Day, and joined in a vigil for all of the children who were killed. We advocated for language that protects the civilians of Gaza by distinguishing “Hamas” from “Gaza.”
- People are equal; the power relations and harms of the occupation are not. We have searched for a language of vigorous protest that neither hates nor falsely equates.
- Some of us have lived experience of the violence of occupation, either because we have lived in Israel or because we have worked in Gaza through previous bombardments.
- We want to see the International Criminal Court investigate the prima facie crimes of the 2014 war. Accountability and law are non-partisan, taking only the side of civilians.