The Forward has a piece up on Jewish Voice for Peace (an organization which, I have to admit, I thought was much older than its 2001 birthdate) and its effort gain "a seat at the [Jewish] communal table." The controversy is that the JVP either endorses or plays footsy with a number of radical positions -- from a one-state solution to the global BDS -- that the broader Jewish community considers well beyond the pale.
And in their latest gambit that's sure to demonstrate their mainstream-i-ness, JVP's executive director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, is endorsing the new Move Over AIPAC group, which is heading to DC during AIPAC's conference in order to reveal "the extraordinary influence AIPAC has on U.S. policy and how to strengthen an alternative that respects the rights of all people in the region."
And what better way to kick that project off than by honoring Helen Thomas, who infamously declared that the Jewish people in the region should "get the hell out". Now that's respecting rights (as the Judeosphere put it in response to Mondoweiss' astounding defense of Thomas -- that expelling Jews from the Middle East would be a good thing because it might reinvigorate Polish Jewish culture: "I'm deeply touched by this gesture of philanthropic ethnic cleansing.").
Other "luminaries" endorsing the event include Alice Walker and Naomi Klein. Yeah, I don't expect to see JVP at any communal seder tables in the near future.
Actually, you know who the JVP and its buddies are really emulating? Herman Cain. As Adam Serwer notes, Cain's statements are self-evidently not calculated to heighten the appeal of GOP policies to the African-American community. If anything, they're gratuitously alienating to Blacks. What Cain does do is nakedly appeal to the prejudices of White conservatives, who eat it up extra-hungrily because its coming from a Black man. Ditto the JVP -- if their goal is to "gain a seat" at the Jewish communal table, well, yer' doin' it wrong. But if their goal is to gain a seat at a table of folks who never really were big fans of Jewish communal expression and autonomy to begin with, but don't like to think of themselves as anti-Semitic -- well, they're doing it absolutely right. And for the same reason that I don't expect to see Cain keynoting the NAACP convention, I don't see the JVP's exile being lifted anytime soon.
UPDATE: Thomas has withdrawn from the event, saying she didn't want to "distract" from the group's message.