- Works for the US Campaign to End the Occupation
- Supports the Palestinians’ right of return
- Argues that suicide bombings are a result of the oppressive conditions in which Palestinians live
- Supports Palestinian statehood
- Founded "Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel"
- "Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is a moral outrage and a blight on the soul of the Jewish people."
Josh Ruebner is a citizen of both the United States, where he was born, and Israel, from where his father hails. In 1996, Ruebner, while still in college, witnessed a Palestinian suicide bomber blow up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 27 people and slightly injuring Ruebner himself. In reaction to this attack against innocent Israelis, Ruebner made a public call for “more understanding [by Israel] of the Palestinian position” – on the theory that such a course of action would help diminish the rage that spawned such acts of violence.
After earning a graduate degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Ruebner went to work for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as an analyst in Middle East affairs. He later left CRS and went on to co-found Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), a (now defunct) Washington, DC-based group of American Jews who viewed Israel as the chief cause of tensions in the Middle East, and who believed that peace in the region was contingent upon the implementation and enforcement of United Nations resolutions mandating a host of Israeli concessions. As the executive director of JPPI (which was a member group of the United For Peace and Justice coalition), Ruebner oversaw numerous delegations to Israel and collaborated with other “peace” organizations including American Muslims for Jerusalem, the International Solidarity Movement, Jewish Unity for a Just Peace (JUNITY), Women in Black, and the Women's Coalition for Peace.
In December 2001, Ruebner, as part of a delegation that included members of JPPI and JUNITY, met privately with Yasser Arafat and Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and an apologist for Palestinian terror) at Arafat's presidential compound in Ramallah.
In 2002 Ruebner co-authored an article with Khalid Turaani, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ). In that piece, the authors wrote that “Israel has completely destroyed at least 1,600 Palestinian homes since September 2000, leaving many thousands homeless” – but made no mention of the fact that those demolished houses were the residences and weapons-storage facilities of terrorists affiliated with Hamas and other violent groups. Ruebner and Turaani lamented that Palestinians were being “imprison[ed] … in their own homeland.”
As a citizen of Israel, Ruebner was required by law to serve a stint in that nation's army. But in 2004, he publicly and defiantly burned his military deferral papers just outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, announcing his refusal to join “an army of occupation and oppression,” and to “commit war crimes and flagrant breaches of international law” on behalf of that army.
By Ruebner's reading of history, Arab forces did not attack Israel in 1948 and 1967; rather, Israel was the aggressor state. Ruebner contends that Israel's creation (in 1948) constituted a “blatant theft of Palestinian land” that was “accompanied” by a “policy of ethnic cleansing,” and that “Israel's [subsequent] treatment of the Palestinian people” has been “a moral outrage and a blight on the soul of the Jewish people.” Ruebner writes about “the daily humiliations” and “human rights abuses to which Palestinians are subjected” while living under Israel's “brutal occupation.” He accuses Israel of trying “to impose a permanent bantustan-like system of apartheid on the Palestinian people.”
Ruebner favors the Palestinian “right of return and emphasizes the negative consequences that allegedly have derived from Zionism: “If we have ‘returned to Zion’ in order to subjugate, humiliate, and dispossess its indigenous inhabitants, then we have turned our backs on our religious obligations and should cooperate with this evil enterprise no longer.”
In recent years, Ruebner and JPPI have collaborated on various projects with such anti-Israel entities as the International Solidarity Movement, Jewish Unity for a Just Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine Media Watch (headed by Rania Awwad), Women in Black, and the Women's Coalition for Peace.
Asserting that Arab anti-Americanism – such as that which prompted the 9/11 attacks – is fueled largely by the close alliance that exists between the U.S. and Israel, Ruebner asks: “How many more Twin Towers need to fall before we realize that there are indeed consequences of the action (or inaction) that our democratically elected government takes in our name?”
In 2006 and 2007, Ruebner ran as the Green Party candidate for the County Board in Arlington, Virginia.
Today, Ruebner works full-time as a grassroots advocacy coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He has written numerous articles for such publications as CounterPunch, Monthly Review, and Zmag. And his name appears on the list of speakers whom the peace/social justice organization Global Exchange dispatches periodically to disseminate its message at events across the United States; other notable speakers include Medea Benjamin, Kevin Danaher, Jodie Evans, and Cynthia McKinney.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.