Jewish Voice for Peace marches against Islamophobia

Jewish Voice for Peace protestors on Wednesday night. Photo by Leah Muskin-Pierret
Jewish Voice for Peace protestors on Wednesday night.
Photo by Leah Muskin-Pierret

Jewish Voice for Peace held a protest against Islamophobia in downtown Washington last night, marching from the offices of the Clarion Project — a group the demonstrators call a hate group — to the White House.

The Clarion Project, which produces films and runs a news website, describes itself as “dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamist extremism while providing a platform for the voices of moderation and promoting grassroots activism.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks extremist groups in the United States, will list the Clarion Project as a hate group in 2017, according to the SPLC website. The Clarion Project did not immediately return requests for comment on this article.

Jewish Voice for Peace, a group best known for its support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and its advocacy for Palestinian causes, in 2013 began an initiative to combat islamophobia. Alison Glick, the coordinator of the Washington-area Jewish Voice for Peace chapter, said she considers the group’s efforts around islamophobia to be part of its original mission.

“Groups like the Clarion Project are very much connected to hate speech against Palestinians and propagating the violation of Palestinian rights,” she said.

Glick added that she believes the Clarion Project is part of the “islamophobia industry” because of institutional support it receives. Despite past reporting that the conservative Donors Capital Fund and Republican powerbroker Sheldon Adelson have donated to the Clarion Project, the group’s funding remains unclear because its nonprofit status means that it doesn’t have to release donor information.

Organizers estimated that a crowd of 180 assembled last night in front of the downtown office building, where Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbi Joseph Berman called the Clarion Project a “beacon of hatred.” Earlier this week Jewish Voice for Peace sent a letter to Tishman Speyer, the building’s property management company, urging it to terminate its contract with the Clarion Project.

The protest was part of a Jewish Voice for Peace “national Chanukah action” in which protests occurred in 25 cities around the country. The Washington protest included Muslim and Christian faith leaders.

Berman said that the protests, which coincidentally happened on the longest night of the year, emphasized their connection to Chanukah.

“Today is the day with the least amount of light,” he said. “In a period of time when there’s a lot of darkness in our world that’s taking the form of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, it’s important to bring a light and proclaim a message of love and respect.”

Glick said that the Washington chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace has about 50 active members and that it began in 2010 when it launched a campaign to urge TIAA-CREF to divest from companies including Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers to the Israel Defense Forces.

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