STATEMENT: Meetings Won’t End The Occupation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 22, 2016

Contact: Ethan Miller, info@ifnot.net

On April 20, 2016, 17 members of IfNotNow were arrested while leading a nonviolent #LiberationSeder in the lobby of the Anti-Defamation League’s New York offices. The event was part of a national week of action, calling on American Jewish institutions to end their support for the ongoing Israeli occupation, a daily nightmare for the Palestinians who live under it and a moral crisis for those who support and administer it.

In response, the ADL invited IfNotNow to a meeting to discuss “our shared goals.” We appreciate the ADL’s offer for a meeting and recognition that we are, in fact, part of the Jewish community. However, we are looking for meaningful action and real moral leadership from our communal institutions – not just opportunities for dialogue or empty rhetoric. We are committed to building a Jewish community that acts in accordance with the fundamental values of freedom and equality we were taught to admire. We can no longer stomach endless negotiations with establishment leaders about what we are allowed to say about Israel’s denial of Palestinian civil, economic, and political rights. We will continue taking action until the leaders of the American Jewish establishment admit what we know to be true: the occupation is a moral crisis for our community and we must take steps to address it.

As a Jewish movement that is deeply committed to the future of the Jewish people, we recognize the contributions that groups like the ADL have made to our advancement in the U.S. and the role they have played in defending the civil rights of Jews and other peoples throughout history.

However, their record, as is the case with many Jewish organizations, shows something entirely different when it comes to the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people. The ADL may say they share our goals, but their actions have not reflected as much. In the past two years alone, the ADL has justified the excessive force used against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, defended the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and remained silent while its former CEO and other Jewish community leaders launched a vicious attack against IfNotNow leader Simone Zimmerman over her political views.

And the ADL isn’t the only Jewish organization to suggest its commitment to domestic civil and human rights absolves themselves of addressing the oppression of Palestinians. Similarly, other organizations we protested this week – including AIPAC, Hillel International, and the Jewish Federations – take great pains to tell the community that they support peace, that they believe in two states for two peoples, all while refusing to take a public stance against the occupation. Collectively, they’ve spent many millions of dollars to create an environment in the Jewish community that vilifies anyone who doesn’t meet their litmus test of what it means to be a member of the Jewish community.

This week IfNotNow took to the streets to say Dayenu, enough. Enough fear-mongering, enough misinformation, enough silencing, and enough intimidation. Every year during Passover we are commanded to celebrate our liberation and dedicate ourselves to the liberation of others. This means we will act together until organizations that claim to represent American Jewry accept our invitation to join us in fighting for the freedom and dignity of Palestinians as hard as we do for ourselves. The liberation of the Jewish people will not be complete without the liberation of the Palestinian people as well.

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IfNotNow is a movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation and gain freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians. IfNotNow has chapters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

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Ethan Miller