Well, Festivus is off to an excellent start:
‘Tribefest’ excommunicates group of young Jews who dared to speak about ethnic discrimination"We got this email from Young Jewish and Proud. Deeply dismaying. And I say the Jewish community is opening up! This is pure intolerance. What will it take to change these attitudes:
It's been over a month since Young Jewish and Proud (YJP), the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, got accepted to have a booth at Tribefest, the Jewish Federations of North America's (JFNA) annual gathering of young people. We've signed contracts for the booth, sent materials, paid a hefty registration fee, booked our rooms, and planned our flights. And then, with no explanation or apology, we just got a call from Tribefest organizers kicking YJP out!
If you are like me and you are tired of Jewish community institutions stifling open conversation and silencing young Jews, please sign our open letter to the JFNA right now. ["Stop silencing the next generation of Jewish leadership"]
I was thrilled when the TribeFest organizers accepted our application to present to the largest annual gathering of young Jews in the United States. When we applied we thought it was unlikely they'd let us in—we had tried to have direct meetings with the JFNA but had been rebuffed—and so their welcome seemed like the sign of a new era of openness. We even used social media to share our excitement— it felt important to be completely transparent that we were coming to talk!
I thought that TribeFest was demonstrating its commitment to Jewish values, which have always emphasized the importance of learning and open debate.
Sadly, TribeFest's organizers, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), have decided that young Jews are not entitled to learn about the full range of Jewish ideas on Jewish issues. When we asked why YJP is being banned from an event that was supposed to be ABOUT being young, Jewish and proud, we were told only that the person calling to inform us was "not at liberty to share all the details."
While it's painful for us to be excluded from and marginalized within spaces that claim to represent our community, it's not ourselves that we're worried about here.
What we're worried about is the future of a community that allows its institutions to dictate which ideas are allowed to be discussed, and who is fit to discuss them.
We are worried that, as we're told we can't talk about it, Israel's policies of massive violence, collective punishment, and ethnic discrimination continue.
A large and rapidly growing number of people who are Young, Jewish and Proud have come to the conclusion that to be committed to Jewish values requires them to not only criticize policies with which they disagree, but to actively seek to change them.
At Tribefest, we intended to host a booth inspired by the Babylonian Talmud's call to "go and learn". We wanted to provide a space to talk about how we believe Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can play a vital role in pursuit of Tikkun Olam. And we wanted to give other young Jews the chance to make up their own minds about it.
But instead of welcoming the chance for young Jews to exchange ideas about the issues most important to us, the JFNA leaders are shoving us out the door and locking the gates.
Jewish institutional leaders are spending their time silencing young Jews as settlements continue to expand, bombs continue to drop, repression continues to intensify, and innocent people of every ethnicity continue to suffer.
We need your support to help tell Jewish community leaders that gatekeeping and silencing have never served Jews. We need your support to tell them that young Jews will go elsewhere if communal institutions increasingly reject and marginalize us. We need your support to tell them that muzzling debate will not make the problem of Israel’s human rights abuses go away."
You decide: parody...or real? Of course, JFNA counted these folks that they wouldn't then permit to speak or show in their attendance totals, didn't they?
And couldn't issues like these have been anticipated when JFNA stepped into the arena of direct programming? No, not JFNA. And just when did JFNA learn that this organization, which openly supports BDS, supports BDS? Don't we fund an entity at huge cost that could have told JFNA about the nature of the organization and its goals long before this embarrassment? The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight scores again...and again...and again.
Can't wait for Joe Berkofsky to 'splain this one.
Enjoy the Fest. Tell us how great it is.