As we bring in Shabbat, many of us in the Jewish community will pause what we’re doing and rest to separate from the mundane of the week. This Shabbat, we invite the the American Jewish establishment to rest and refrain from the cycle of demonization that has played out against one of our own this week.
Yesterday the Bernie Sanders’ Campaign suspended its Jewish Outreach Coordinator, Simone Zimmerman. Simone is a powerful, respected leader in IfNotNow. The smear campaign waged against her is just the most blatant example of the American Jewish establishment trying to intimidate and silence young people acting on the very same Jewish values of Tzedek (Justice) and Tikkun Olam (reparing the world) that were taught to us by our community.
The suspension came in response to public statements from various out-touch-leaders of the American Jewish Establishment including Abe Foxman, former director of the Anti-Defamation League and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.
For years we’ve known that there was a crisis of leadership within the American Jewish establishment – that when young Jews call for freedom and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis, the establishment can only respond with intimidation and fear. The past few days have simply forced that crisis into the public eye.
Last night, in the 9th Democratic Debate in Brooklyn, Senator Sanders forcefully stood for the humanity of the Palestinian people. He talked about the economic and civil rights being denied to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and said, “in the long run, if we’re ever to bring peace…we have to treat Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”
IfNotNow was founded on the principles of fighting for the freedom and dignity of all Palestinians and Israelis. We applaud any and all political leaders willing to speak about the realities of the occupation and recognize the humanity of Palestinians. We wish they would also have the courage to stand up to those in our community who use fear tactics to silence those stand up for justice.
We are calling on members of the Jewish community and allies to stand with Simone and reject the intimidation of an entire generation acting on the very Jewish values we were taught by our community.
You can’t silence a generation.
When we say what we know is true about the realities of the occupation, we’re told to sit down, shut up, and get in line. The American Jewish establishment says they are doing everything to bring young Jews into the community – but ends up driving us away by shutting out anyone who dares to speak up about the occupation.
We have hope for a different path for this community. And we are dedicated to building it.
On Monday we will be taking action to call our community to action after their smear campaign against Simone. Then, throughout the week, IfNotNow activists in 5 cities will host a series of liberation seders to say “Dayenu! Enough,” and call our community to join us in our commitment to freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.
This week was deeply disappointing. Let’s organize to make next week more hopeful and inspiring.