Welcome to the new MuzzleWatch blog

Welcome to MuzzleWatch, the new blog dedicated to tracking efforts to muzzle critics of US-Israeli foreign policy. We, the folks at Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), decided to start this blog because we’ve simply had enough.

We found ourselves getting disinvited from too many speaking engagements. We saw too many groups we like get called anti-Semitic. We encountered too many people who capitulated to pressure to simply shut up.

MuzzleWatch is dedicated to creating an open atmosphere for debate about US-Israeli foreign policy by:

  • shining a light on incidents that involve pressure, intimidation, and outright censorship of critics of US-Israeli policy
  • showing that there is an environment of intimidation that keeps far too many people from speaking honestly and openly
  • demanding accountability from groups that use silencing tactics

It is simply absurd that these issues can be debated much more openly in Israel than in the United States.

JVP’s primary work is education and advocacy about what we think is terrible US policy regarding Israel. (You can find out more about what we think here and here.)
We understand that this is a highly polarized issue. We’re Jews, after all, so we only have to look as far as our families to know that opinion is divided.

But for most of us who do this work, there is a moment when we discovered the rules are different when you talk about Israeli and US policy toward the Palestinians and Arab states. Instead of those healthy debates we love here in the US, we’re met with silence and fear.

To be fair, emotions can get so raw that often people just don’t want to go there. Because of our experiences with anti-Semitism, when someone says “Israel shouldn’t be doing X,” what a lot of Jews actually hear is, “I hate Jews!” We get this.

But there’s also something much more insidious taking place. At JVP, we see it all the time. There are groups and individuals who pro-actively work to silence people like us.

By “people like us” we mean anyone who dares to offer principled criticism of Israel’s policies, and US support for those policies. The form of silencing is different for “dissenting” Jews, Muslims and Arabs, Christians, media professionals, academics etc…. but the end result is a disturbingly pervasive fear of simply discussing one of the most critical issues facing the world today.

The ironic truth is that these incidents of silencing are growing in number because groups like the Anti-Defamation League or AIPAC are growing increasingly scared. They’re the ones afraid of open debate. Not us. You’ve got to ask yourself why.

We’ll be linking to current news stories as well as sharing our own stories and primary documents when we get them. We hope you’ll write us as well.

What we want, ultimately, is a country in which everyone feels safe to simply ask questions, discuss and debate the issues. What could be healthier for Americans, healthier for democracy?

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