Jews Against The Occupation (JATO)

Jews Against The Occupation (JATO)


* Anti-Israel Jewish organization
* Seeks the end of American aid to Israel
* Condemns Israel’s “occupation of Palestine”
* Favors Palestinian “right of return”
* Calls for “redistribution of resources and a massive program of international aid to rehabilitate Palestinian communities”

Founded in 2002 and active until approximately 2010, Jews Against The Occupation (JATO) described itself as “an organization of progressive, secular, and religious Jews of all ages throughout the New York City area advocating peace through justice for Palestine and Israel.” The group’s key political agendas were formally articulated in its six “Points of Unity,” which consisted of the following:

* No Occupation in Our Name: Rejecting “the Israeli government assertion that it is ‘necessary’ to subjugate Palestinians for the sake of keeping Jews safe,” JATO maintained that “the occupation of Palestine is only worsening the position of Jews in the Middle East and around the world.”

* Restore Human and Civil Rights: JATO denounced the Israeli military for “fir[ing] bone-crushing rubber bullets and live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian civilians engaged in peaceful protest,” and for “failing to distinguish between peaceful and violent resistance.” The Israeli government, JATO added, was guilty of “demolishing Palestinian houses and crops in the Occupied Territories, while allowing Jewish settlers—many of them American—to illegally occupy the same land.”

  • End U.S. Aid to Israel: Asserting that “the U.S. government provides more aid to Israel than to any other country,” JATO complained repeatedly that “billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have propped up the occupation and fueled the Israeli government’s war machine.” “This aid must end,” the organization demanded.

* Stop Economic Attacks on Palestine: JATO charged that “the Israeli government has attacked the Palestinian economy by: closing Palestinian banks; imposing extreme taxes on business; withdrawing operating licenses; destroying industrial equipment; bulldozing farmland and banning fishing; restricting workers’ movement; controlling the export of Palestinian goods; closing the borders of the Occupied Territories; and refusing to fund infrastructure like water and electricity—even in Arab villages within Israel.”

* Let Palestinians Return Home: “Thousands of Palestinians were driven out of their houses and off of their farms during and after the creation of Israel,” JATO claimed. “They must be allowed to return to their homeland.”

* Anti-Semitism vs. Critiques of Israel: JATO professed to “stan[d] firmly against anti-Semitism,” which it characterized as “a cornerstone of European white supremacist ideology.” By the same token, said the organization, “we … stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom” from Israeli oppression. Added JATO: “Judaism is a cultural and religious identity, which must not be equated with Zionism, a political movement. Criticism of the state of Israel, its policies, or the idea of a Jewish state does not by itself constitute anti-Semitism.”

JATO’s organizational literature was essentially bereft of any mention of Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Nor did it articulate concern that such terrorism may have been an impediment to the establishment of a Palestinian state, or to the feasibility of a “Right of Return.”

To summarize its major positions and demands, JATO composed and circulated a petition, addressed jointly to the Israeli government and “international public opinion.” This document condemned “the consequences of military repression and economic blockade of the Palestinians by Israel”; called for “an end to Israeli aggression and oppression”; and characterized the Palestinians as “a dispossessed people, living under Israeli military, political and economic control.” Further, the petition exhorted Israel to “uphold the human rights of Palestinians” by: (a) initiating an “immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal from all of the territories taken by force and occupied in 1967”; (b) “recogni[zing] … the Palestinian right to national self-determination, to return, and to compensation”; and (c) instituting a “redistribution of resources and a massive program of international aid to rehabilitate Palestinian communities.”

JATO was an endorser of Wheels of Justice (WOJ), an initiative that calls for a cessation of American aid to Israel and accuses the Jewish state of ethnic cleansing and human-rights violations against the Palestinians. Fellow endorsers of WOJ included Pax Christi USA, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Traprock Peace Center, and Veterans For Peace.

Over the years, JATO members and supporters participated in numerous anti-Israel marches and demonstrations, mostly in New York City.[1] Moreover, JATO supported Israeli “refuseniks” (conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the IDF); denounced the “Israeli War Machine’s” killing of International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie in 2003; and took part in anti-war marches in late 2002 to protest the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq.

For a period, some JATO members also conducted weekly anti-Israel vigils in conjunction with Women in Black.

One of the more high-profile incidents involving JATO occurred in September 2003, when the president of its Rutgers University chapter, Abe Greenhouse, was arrested for hitting guest speaker Natan Sharansky, Israel’s then-cabinet minister, in the face with a pie.


[1] These activists condemned, among other things, Israel’s ongoing “occupation” of Palestinian territories; its establishment of a vast “new ghetto” within which they sought to confine Palestinians; and its construction of an “apartheid wall” in the West Bank, which in fact was a security barrier designed to stop the relentless barrage of terrorist attacks that were being launched against Israeli targets in the region.

© Copyright 2024,