OverviewRebecca Pierce has accused Jews of “white supremacy," defended an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and expressed support for a terrorist. She has also promoted a violent agitator, opposed Muslim-Jewish dialogue and demonized Israel.
Pierce was an activist with the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP), an affiliate of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC).
Pierce is a “core member" of the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus (JOCSM), a partner organization of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organization. In November 2016, Pierce represented JVP on a delegation to France.
As of June 2018, she was the Editor-in-Chief of “Unruly," a “racial justice blog" organized by JOCSM and JVP.
Pierce has also demonized the Birthright Jewish heritage tour and promoted JVP’s #returnthebirthright initiative.
She is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Pierce is also affiliated with IfNotNow (INN), an organization that has demonized Israel and seeks to drive a wedge between American Jewry and Israel.
Pierce is a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) Facebook group.
As of June 2018, Pierce’s LinkedIn page said she graduated USCS in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Film and Digital Media. Her LinkedIn also said that she works as a “Legal Investigator and Case Assistant" at Pierce & Shearer, LLP, as well as an event videographer at Art Forces. She was also listed as a freelance multimedia journalist.
Accusing Jews of White SupremacyOn September 7, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “I wish Jewish institutions put half the time/energy they spend combatting BDS into combating white supremacy in Israel & local communities."
Later, Pierce tweeted: “Israeli white supremacy is killing Palestinians. Israeli white supremacy is killing JOC. Yall won't fight for us, so we'll fight together."
On April 1, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “Rachel Gilmer says that including Jews of Color in our analysis of Zionism further exposes its white supremacist roots #JVP2017 #JOCSM4Pal."
On November 10, 2016, Pierce tweeted: “You cannot ignore white supremacist components of fascism in Israel OR US. It is the literal structure through which violence is enforced."
On July 6, 2016, Pierce tweeted: “White Jewish people wishing to employ the notion of intersectionality should start by not using JOC as rhetorical tools to defend racism."
On September 17, 2015, Pierce tweeted: “Interesting article that sadly glosses over the link between Zionism & white supremacy in the Jewish community."
Defending Anti-Semitic Conspiracy TheoryOn July 11, 2017, Pierce slammed an article published in Haaretz that condemned JVP for producing an anti-Semitic video, tweeting: “This a bad faith punch down on JVP that only serves to cover up active support for white supremacy in Jewish community."
JVP also released a video that blamed [00:04:04] US-based Jewish organizations for violence that occurs against Black and Brown communities, immigrants and activists in the U.S.
The video accused mainstream Jewish organizations in the United States of coordinating exchange programs between American and Israeli security personnel, to advance “worst practices" and “racist policies."
The campaign page claimed that these “policies" included: “extrajudicial executions, shoot-to-kill policies, police murders, racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention."
Supporting a TerroristOn April 2, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “‘We love you Rasmea!’ -JVP membership to Rasmea Odeh #JVP2017."
Odeh was a military operative with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an internationally designated terrorist organization. In 1969, she masterminded a bombing that killed two university students in a Jerusalem supermarket. Odeh also attempted to bomb the British consulate.
Odeh confessed, in a highly detailed account, the day following her arrest. In a 2004 documentary, one of Odeh’s co-conspirators directly implicated her as the mastermind.
In 1970, an Israeli court tried and convicted Odeh for her involvement in both bombings and sentenced her to life imprisonment. However, Odeh was released 10 years later, in a prisoner swap and emigrated to the United States. In 2017, Odeh was deported to Jordan and stripped of U.S. citizenship, after admitting to immigration fraud.
On September 7, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “Issa Amro is under attack by both the Palestinian authority and Israel for his non-violent activism #FreeIssa."
Violent agitator Issa Amro — head of the Youth Against Settlements (YAS) movement — is known for vandalism and attacking Israeli soldiers in Hebron. Amro has been charged with numerous acts of violence against Israeli civilians and security forces.
YAS, an anti-Israel NGO based in Hebron, has posted photos on its Facebook page that propagate anti-Semitism, laud rock-throwing and urge its members to participate in violent anti-Israel demonstrations.
Opposing Interfaith DialogueOn January 14, 2015, Pierce attacked the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), tweeting: “Can we start #JewsAgainstMLI because personally I don't see working w the Israeli government as valid ‘dialogue’ with Jewish community."
MLI was founded by Imam Abdullah Antepli, the first Muslim chaplain at Duke University. MLI "invites North American Muslims to explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood" and to further explore Palestinian identity and “issues of ethics, faith, and practice."
According to Antepli, “MLI aims to put mainstream North American Jewry in conversation with their Muslim counterparts."
Demonizing IsraelOn February 15, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “U.S. finally takes the leap from disingenuously upholding Israel's ‘separate but equal’ fantasy to openly supporting it's Apartheid reality."
On November 10, 2016, Pierce tweeted: “Israeli Apartheid *includes* racism directed at Black, Arab, Kurdish and other POC Jews. Truly dismantling it means racial justice for all."
On November 8, 2015, Pierce tweeted: “So generalizing Zionism as ‘Jewish belief’ isn't just false, it is actively antisemitic and directly harms our communities. Stop doing it."
On October 16, 2015, Pierce tweeted: “If there's 1 thing I learned from living here it's that Zionism is just as anti-Black as it is anti-Palestinian. There's a direct connection."
On July 6, 2015, Pierce tweeted: “Israel, a delicate little apartheid flower "
On June 16, 2015, Pierce tweeted: “Israel has a problem with systematic racism, acting like individual racism is some kind of aberration is extremely silly."
On December 29, 2014, Pierce tweeted: “On my last trip it became clear that Israeli state violence has been inflicted on Jews of color since 48, & is part of the apartheid system."
Condemning Jewish Heritage TourOn September 1, 2017, Pierce tweeted: “Check out this great new campaign of young Jews boycotting racist ‘Birthright’ trips to Israel #ReturnTheBirthright."
The tweet linked to the #returnthebirthright campaign launched by JVP.
On December 25, 2015, Pierce tweeted:“‘Aunt: ‘Rebecca, you live in Israel, tell the boys about Birthright!’ Me: ‘Don't go.’"
Return the Birthright CampaignIn 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).
SJP was co-founded in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) by Professors Hatem Bazian and Snehal Shingavi. Bazian served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) while studying at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and headed the Muslim Students Association (MSA) while earning his M.A. at UC Berkeley. In 2004, while the second intifada was already winding down in Israel, he called for an intifada in the United States.
Shingavi, an activist tied to the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has been criticized for using his literature course as a vehicle for promoting anti-Israel propaganda. SJP has grown to become the primary student movement advancing the Palestinian national agenda on North American campuses and is the primary force behind BDS campaigns at most schools.
SJP activists frequently intimidate and harass Jewish and pro-Israel students. SJP members have physically assaulted Jewish students, aggressively disrupted pro-Israel events and possibly vandalized communal property. SJP rallies regularly include hate-speech and chants such as "Long Live The Intifada" and "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free" — calls for violence and for the destruction of the Jewish state.
SJP chapters frequently run inflammatory campaigns against Israel, including BDS resolutions, rallies, Israel-Apartheid initiatives, propaganda comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, mock checkpoints and "die-ins."
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 controversial Israel critics Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner.
JVP, which generally employs civil disobedience tactics like disrupting 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."
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 values... 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."
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by Omar Barghouti and asserts that it "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law."
The movement's most notable achievement has been the infiltration of university campuses through lobbying for "BDS resolutions." In these cases, backed by university anti-Israel affiliates, student governments have brought to vote on some form of boycott of — or divestment from — Israel and Israeli-affiliated entities. These resolutions, although non-binding, have been passed by student governments on numerous North American campuses.
BDS activity is often aggressive and disruptive. It has been noted that universities that pass BDS resolutions see a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In 2013, when the student government of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) debated a BDS resolution, reports emerged of violent threats and the spitting on a student wearing a Star of David necklace. As a result, the student government chose to vote via a "secret ballot" in order to ensure its members' safety.
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