Amid the Gaza war this summer a group of young American Jews formed a new group, ‘If Not Now, When?’, which aims to challenge the American Jewish establishment’s unquestioning support for the occupation. +972 sits down with one of its founding members to find out who the group is and what they hope to accomplish.
By Tom Pessah
For decades, American Jewry has been dominated by its own “one percent” – a small group of donors and unelected executives who lead organizations like the Jewish Federations of North America, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International.
Recent surveys have shown that American Jews are much more willing to criticize Israeli policies than the leadership of the organizations that claim to represent them. A quarter of Jews aged 18 to 29 believe that the U.S. is too supportive of Israel, according to a Pew survey, but their opposition has been muted.
However, since this past summer young Jews throughout the U.S. have been holding vigils outside the offices of major Jewish establishment organizations, protesting their complicity with war and occupation.
I recently spoke with Yonah Lieberman, an young organizer with “If Not Now, When,” a new movement of young American Jews opposing the occupation and the American Jewish establishment’s complicity and support of it.
Tell me a bit about your background?
I’m 22 years old from in Washington, DC. I went to the University of Michigan and after graduating, was part of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps in Brooklyn. Now I am a community organizer working with low-income tenants to create more affordable housing in New York City.
How did If Not Now, When begin?
It began two weeks into this summer’s violence. People were wallowing in self-pity, reading news articles, unable to function. I couldn’t get any work done at my job because I was so distracted by what was going on in Israel and in Gaza....Read More