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Ari Kaplan

Overview

Ari Kaplan demonized [00:01:02] Israel and the United States with the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organization at a 2017 Jewish campus event. He also promoted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) as well as the #returnthebirthright initiative launched by JVP against the Birthright Jewish heritage tour (Birthright).

According to a 2017 article from nyulocal.com, Kaplan is was a student at New York University (NYU).

As of October 2019, Kaplan’s LinkedIn page said he was a Production Assistant for WarnerMedia since September 2018 in the “Greater New York City Area" and previously a “Monologue Intern" with the Conan show, from May - July 2018.

Demonizing Israel at Jewish Event

On December 9, 2017, Kaplan attended a Sabbath dinner at the Jewish center of NYU. He and two others representing NYU JVP stood and read prepared remarks about “the current situation in Jerusalem because we could not stay silent."

Kaplan referenced [00:01:02] Washington’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and said [00:01:06], “In Palestine and the rest of the world, response was of horror and anger with immediate and widespread protest for this reckless decision."
Promoting BDS

On May 24, 2018, JVP posted a photo of Kaplan on Facebook, as part of their 2018 Member Drive. "

The caption on the photo read: “I joined Jewish Voice for Peace because I want to strengthen the BDS movement on my campus."

Condemning Jewish Heritage Tour

On April 16, 2018, Kaplan participated in a Return the Birthright protest organized by JVP outside the Taglit Birthright Gala in New York City.

On March 28, 2018, NYU JVP posted a video of a Return the Birthright rally featuring Kaplan. Kaplan read prepared remarks off a cell phone and claimed: [00:01:51] “...but today we must acknowledge that the modern state of Israel is predicated on the erasure of Palestinians.

He further said “Taking a Birthright trip today means playing an active role in helping the state promote Jewish return while rejecting Palestinians Right of Return" and that it is not enough for Jews to take the trip and “maintain a critical perspective."

Kaplan concluded: “We reject the offer of a free trip to a state that doesn’t represent us, a trip that is… paid for by the dispossession of Palestinians."

On March 5, 2018, the Return the Birthright Facebook page posted a picture of Kaplan holding a sign that read: “I return the ‘Birthright’ because everyone deserves to go home."

Accompanying Kaplan’s picture was text reading: “We reject a free trip to visit a state that welcomes us 'home', while our Palestinian friends and their families still can't visit, much less return to the place they called home for centuries."

On October 12, 2017, Kaplan featured in an NYU JVP Facebook photo, promoting JVP’s #returnthebirthright campaign.

Kaplan held a sign that read: “I #ReturnTheBirthright because Palestinians deserve THEIR Birthright."

The photo was also shared on the Return the Birthright Facebook page, which demonized Birthright as “a propaganda trip that whitewashes the systemic racism and daily violence faced by Palestinians living under endless occupation."

Return the Birthright Campaign

In September of 2017, JVP issued its #ReturntheBirthright campaign manifesto, calling on American Jews to boycott the Birthright Israel (Birthright) program. Birthright was founded by Jewish philanthropists “in 1999 to address the growing divide between young Diaspora Jewish adults and the land and people of Israel."

After decades of demographic decline in the American Jewish community, Birthright set out “to strengthen Jewish identity, build a lasting bond with the land and people of Israel, and reinforce the solidarity of Jewish people worldwide." The program offers “the gift of a life-changing, 10-day trip to Israel to young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26."

JVP’s anti-Birthright campaign was launched precisely to coincide with “the very moment that college students across America are returning to campus and registration for Birthright winter visits are underway."

The #returnthebirthright manifesto accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing" and alleged “the modern state of Israel is predicated on the ongoing erasure of Palestinians."

The text claimed: “We reject the offer of a free trip to a state that does not represent us, a trip that is only ‘free’ because it has been paid for by the dispossession of Palestinians."

The manifesto concluded: “And as we reject this, we commit to promoting the right to return of Palestinian refugees… Israel is not our Birthright… Return the Birthright."

On June 22, 2017, just prior to the launch of JVP’s #returnthebirthright campaign, JVP received a $140,00 two-year grant for general support for its operations from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF).

Since 2015, JVP has received $280,000 from RBF, which has a history of supporting anti-Jewish causes, including BDS campaigns and various organizations that promote BDS campaigns throughout the United States.

JVP

JVP was founded in Berkeley, California in 1996, as an activist group with an emphasis on the “Jewish tradition" of peace, social justice and human rights. The organization is currently led by Rebecca Vilkomerson and its board members include Israel critics Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner.

JVP, which generally employs civil disobedience tactics to disrupt pro-Israel speakers and events, consists of American Jews and non-Jewish “allies" highly critical of Israeli policies. A staunch supporter of the BDS movement, JVP claims to aim its campaigns at companies that either support the Israeli military (Hewlett-Packard) or are active in the West Bank (SodaStream).

Although several Jewish groups critical of Israeli policies, like J Street and Partners for a Progressive Israel, make efforts to operate within the mainstream American Jewish community, JVP functions outside. The group is often criticized for serving as a tokenized Jewish voice for the pro-Palestinian camp and is widely regarded as the BDS movement’s “Jewish wing."

JVP denies the notion of “Jewish peoplehood" and has even gone so far as to refer to its own Ashkenazi (Jews who spent the Diaspora in European countries) leadership as “white supremacy inside of JVP."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused JVP of being “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States," and said the group “exploits Jewish culture and rituals to reassure its own supporters that opposition to Israel not only does not contradict, but is actually consistent with, Jewish value."

The ADL also claimed that “JVP consistently co-sponsors rallies to oppose Israeli military policy that are marked by signs and slogans comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, demonizing Jews and voicing support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."

According to the ADL website, JVP “uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and provide it with a greater degree of legitimacy and credibility."


Social Media and Web Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/100001490081134

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArisKaplan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ari-kaplan-7b1b2b173/


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