Which Side Are You On, My People? Ending American Jewish Support for the Occupation
IN JULY 2014, the American Jewish establishment mobilized tens of thousands of American Jews in support of an unnecessary and devastating war on Gaza, while those of us who openly questioned and decried the senseless loss of life were shouted down and labeled traitors.
It was that summer, while saying kaddish for the Israelis and Palestinians who had been killed, that IfNotNow was born to challenge the establishment’s clear moral failure.
Two years later, while thousands of AIPAC conference attendees welcomed Donald Trump with standing ovations, hundreds of IfNotNow activists converged on Washington D.C. to lay the groundwork for the bold, soulful organizing that is now known as the #JewishResistance.
As Trump went on to win the election riding a wave of xenophobia and racism, and white supremacists celebrated in public, the necessity of resisting arm in arm with others under attack was no longer an abstract concept. So we showed up to protest his inauguration with Black, Muslim, and immigrant communities.
It is just as clear to us now, as it was in 2014, which side we must be on.
We are writing this piece just a month into the Trump Administration as some of our worst nightmares have already begun to materialize. With “father of the alt-right” Steve Bannon at his side, Trump quickly signed the Muslim ban and prepared plans for a larger wall on the Mexican border. Meanwhile, his administration ignored white supremacist attacks on Muslims at prayer and bomb threats to dozens of Jewish Community Centers across the nation.
While many progressive Jewish organizations recognize the moral crisis of the moment, most of the traditional establishment has continued with business as usual.
For IfNotNow, watching the Jewish establishment normalize white supremacy and anti-Semitism is heartbreaking, but not shocking—for years they have destroyed their moral credibility in the name of preserving support for Israel at all costs, and against the will of the majority of our community.
We should not be surprised that after decades of equating loyalty to Judaism with loyalty to Israel, the American Jewish establishment is failing to act on the crisis of a Trump presidency. But we should be alarmed. The Jewish world is at a critical juncture.
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Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 2:36-37