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'As U.S. Jews, we need to figure out what leverage we have in ending the occupation'

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

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

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.

The folks involved knew each other from Jewish progressive organizations in New York City and were frustrated no one was doing anything about the war. They sent out a mass email asking for a meeting. I got a call from Daniel May, who had been the director of J Street U (the university organizing branch of J Street) and a mentor for me. “You have to be at this meeting,” he told me.

Our first action was that Thursday, and the next one the next Monday, when people got arrested. We organized a Shabbat protest service, and 300 people showed up. Then there was a Tisha B’Av demonstration, grounded in the framework of the [religious] service. It was in a public atmosphere but without picket signs or shouting. In late August – another big demonstration. Then the tashlich action a few weeks ago.

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

We’ve been meeting weekly since.

We did not know what we were doing, we didn’t intend to create a national movement to change the Jewish community, and yet – that’s what we’re doing.

Tell me more about the members?

There are three types. Some have been working on the issue for years. Second, there are people like me, who had moved on but got back into it over the summer. And then there are the most interesting ones: people who are Jewish and progressive but never thought they’d be taking action against the occupation. It is those people who are leading the movement.

We’re not J Street, and we’re not a front for Jewish Voice for Peace (JPV). We’re just a group of people who came together.

I was active in J Street U; I think it helped shift the conversation. But they got it wrong this time around. They supported the war with sentiments like: “we support Israel’s right for self-defense.”

How did you write the statement that you read at the Tashlich (A religious Jewish custom of casting away one’s sins during the Jewish new year)?

It’s a time of year when people look inward and criticize themselves. So we asked people to answer the question: “how am I complicit in the occupation?”

The statement is a compilation of the responses we got.

How did the movement spread out of New York City?

A lot of American Jews were frustrated about the war and 47 years of occupation and they want to do something about it. We told people there would be a conference call, gave out the number, and we’ve had several calls with 30-40 participants each.

We now have “If Not Now” activists coast to coast, in Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New Hampshire, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Seattle.

Folks are coming together and saying, “we’re no longer accepting the complicity of the American Jewish leadership that only asks, ‘what do you want Israel to do?’” They are asking: “Why were you [the American Jewish leadership] so silent for the nine months of the peace process,” which failed. That American Jewish leadership is refusing to take a nuanced view of how the war came about, saying only, “we support Israel and its right to defend itself.”

Why now?

It’s a culmination of several factors but this summer was the last straw.

Since I became aware of Israel-Palestine politics in 2005, there’s been some kind of war or conflict every few years: the Second Lebanon War, the Flotilla, the attacks on Gaza in 2008-09, 2012, and now this.

People who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s no longer give Israel the benefit of the doubt about why so many civilians are killed. There’s frustration about the total intransigence of the Israeli government, outrage about building more and more settlements and the constant warmongering about Iran and Hamas.

This was the most egregious war, with the highest percent of civilians and children who were killed. We were just sitting and watching the numbers of dead civilians increase.

There’s a sense of urgency we haven’t felt for a long time. We realized that if we don’t act now, we’ll have another war in two years, if not sooner. The occupation could enter its 50th year, its 100th year.

Organizer Simone Zimmerman speaks to some 250 If Not Now, When activists at a Tisha B’Av action in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

Organizer Simone Zimmerman speaks to some 250 If Not Now, When activists at a Tisha B’Av action in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

Tell me more about your goals?

A lot of the Jewish leadership says, “war is sad, but it’s inevitable because they hate us.” But it’s outrageous to say war is inevitable when serious diplomacy has never been tried, when there is no serious desire to take bold action.

The reason why Israel feels it can do whatever it wants to do in the name of self defense is that the people who lead the major Jewish American organizations (AIPAC, the ADL, the Federations) have given them the green light. People of my generation reject this green light. We’re saying, “hold on, we need to do something about this.”

As American Jews, we need to figure out what leverage we have. We believe that the American Jewish community is a lynchpin of the occupation because it legitimizes the right-wing groups that want to perpetuate it.

If we get the major organizations to say, “we think the occupation is wrong, it’s bad for Israel, we need to end it,” then people in Israel will no longer have the green light to move into Palestinian homes, like they just did in Silwan. If we stop giving them money this will stop happening. The people building the settlements will have no one in America to give them support. If we can get [ADL director] Abraham Foxman to say that, things will shift.

How are you positioned in relation to groups like J Street, or JVP?

JVP are Jews in solidarity with Palestinians. They’re a hugely important group. But we’re not a solidarity group. We’re also not trying to speak on behalf of Palestinians.

There are a lot of groups out there, and we don’t condemn other types of activists, but we’re unique in that we’re targeting the major Jewish organizations.

We don’t talk about BDS, the one-state solution, the two-state solution – we’re just trying to end the American Jewish leadership’s complicity in the occupation. We bring people from the far left who talk about “one person, one vote” together with people who are Zionists and think Israel should exist.

We come together because we all believe in ending the occupation.

What about Open Hillel?

We support them. We need more open spaces where people can come together and have real conversations.

What responses have you gotten from the Jewish establishment?

A lot of silence.

They have hundreds of young Jews at their doorstep, and there’s so much debate right now about how to get young Jews engaged. After we got arrested, [executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations] Malcolm Hoenlein said we’re doing this because it’s “in.”

In reality, we’re doing it because of the values that were instilled in us by the Jewish community.

What are your plans now?

The challenge is how to maintain the same sense of urgency as we had during the war. We need to build a movement.

We’re organizing Shabbat dinners all across the country where people can get together and share stories. We hope that will keep up the momentum.

Read also:
At Open Hillel conference, Jews demand their spot at the communal table
BDS’s Jewish roots: A lesson for Hillel
‘Open Hillel’ seeks to redefine U.S. Jewish debate on Israel-Palestine

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ginger Eis

      Mr. Tom Pessah, here are the stuff you need to “figure out” FIRST
      a. Stop the slander: American Jews support Israel, not “occupation”;
      b. Start telling the truth: a handful of American hooligans who describe themselves as “Jews” are NOT the American Jewry;
      c. Start acknowledging history: The Israeli left has tried two times (Camp David and Annapolis) and failed miserably to achieve peace with the Arabs; at least, the “occupation”/absence of peace is NOT all Israel’s fault;
      d. Start being fair: pressure the Arabs (too). Its all too easy to demonize Israel ad nauseam – with no cost. The neo-Nazi imbeciles and their Jihadi and global extreme leftist counterparts do that all the time. You need no courage or wisdom to blame Israel for everything and demonize her ad infinitum.

      Reply to Comment
      • Disgusted

        ^^^ The microcosm of what is wrong with everything.

        Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        Interesting comment from Ginger “at least, the ‘occupation’/absence of peace is NOT all Israel’s fault’.

        Interesting in that Ginger seems to be accepting that some of the fault lies with Israel. It would be more interesting if Ginger was able to expand on this. He/she may have more in common with Tom Pessah than he thinks.

        Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        You know, it’s possible to read Ginger’s comments and come away with the impression that this endless occupation is a co-production between the Govt of Israel and the occupied.

        That Ginger really does refuse to understand that the real reason why this occupation is never-ending is because Israel refuses to end it.

        And it is almost as if Ginger hasn’t internalized the real reason for that refusal i.e. holding this territory at the point of a gun is the ONLY way that Israel can continue to colonize this territory.

        And as far as Israel is concerned that colonial expansionism is, indeed, their Paramount Concern.

        It isn’t a case of a “few hooligans”.

        It’s not a situation where Israel Wants To End It, But Those Do-Gooder Lefties Keep Getting In The Way.

        No.

        The colonization of this occupied territory is Israeli Govt POLICY, and so this (and all previous) Israeli govts have had no interest in any negotiated end to this occupation.

        The only way that Israel will “end” this occupation is when it has colonized this so completely that it can then say: Well, you might as well admit that it’s all mine, mine, mine.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          ‘YeahRight’, to avoid unnecessary duplication, I refer, in response to your post, to my comments below in response to Richard Lentz/Lightbown .

          Reply to Comment
        • Jan

          You have the right name because yeah, you are right.

          Israel never wanted to give up the land and still does not. The settlements were deliberately laid out in a way to divide the Palesitinians from each other and to preclude Palestinian unity.

          GInger, unfortunately, is one who refuses to see that Israel was built on the ashes of the Palestinian communities that existed before 1948. She also neglects to consider the fact that while there were several “peace proposals” Israel showed it really wasn’t serious as it continued to build its illegal settlements even as the “talks” were going on. Perhaps Ginger has forgotten when during the Oslo “talks,” then Housing Minister, Ariel Sharon, declared that Israel would be doubling the number of settlements. I have often said that if I, as an American Jew, knew at that time it was all over for a real peace, the Palestinians and their American backers, had to know that as well.

          But did they care when the talks collapsed? Not at all. Israel knew it could continue with its illegal settlement building while the US would keep funding their country and protecting them in all international fora.

          What Ginger also doesn’t note is that while Israel made proposals, none of them would likely have been approved by the Knesset and none of them would have given the Palestinians freedom from being controlled by Israel.

          FInally, anyone who thinks that there will be a two state solution has their head in the sand. All one has to do is to look at a map of the settlements which show them covering most of the West Bank and that does not even include all the Israeli only roads that Israel has built in the West Bank.
          Daily Israel brings more settlers to their illegal settlements with great offers of assistance and of lower mortgages.

          Years ago some, including myself, believed that the settlers were going on their own to build settlements and many in Israel damned the settlers. We were deceived. From the beginning it was Israeli government policy to build the settlements and it still is policy.

          Today it appears that there are only two options. A single state with equal rights for everyone or a full fledged Israeli aparthied states where Palestinians are forced to live in bantustans. Sadly, I am afraid that far too many Israelis, including people such as Ginger, would happily settle for apartheid even if it made Israel as much a pariah state as was aparthied South Africa.

          Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        One more thing for Tom P to consider: Israel’s security is too important to risk to the rants of a young man without any life experience. Yonan is a man who believes that because 25% of American Jews aged 18-29 believe that America supports Israel too much, American Jewry (including the 75% of young people and the 95% of Jewish people over 50 years of age who do not believe this to be true) should leverage American action against Israel to support a pull out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria without the benefit of any agreement ending the conflict.

        Yonan opposes the Jewish state’s right of self defence. He makes it clear that a solution of the conflict or the welfare or security of Israelis is of no concern to him. The aim of his organization is simply to end occupation without thought to the consequences to the Israeli people.

        He is intellectually dishonest. He states in reference to the Gaza war that:

        “This was the most egregious war, with the highest percent of civilians and children who were killed.”

        Approximately 2200 people were killed in the war. In the Yom Kippur War 2774 Israelis and tens of thousands of Arabs were killed. In the 1970 war between Jordan and the Palestinians 15,000 were killed and thousands of Palestinians were expelled. The Palestinians participated the Lebanon war in which over 150,000 persons died. The Palestinians sacked the 25,000 populated Christian City of Damour massacring 600 persons, raping women, looting homes and defiling the cemetery. What the Palestinians did in Damour and the second intifada are good indicators what they would do to Israelis if Israel was forced to end its right of self defence in Judea and Samaria or on the Gaza border.

        In addition, one only has to look at recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Sudan not to mention the Iraq and Iran war of the 1980s to see that the causality count in the Gaza war. 200,000 have died in Syria, over a million in the Iraq Iran war. Hundreds of thousands have died since the American invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in the genocide in Sudan by Arabs.

        So just how is the past conflict in Gaza the most most egregious?

        His reference to the civilian body count is pure propaganda. Israel has the lowest ratio of combatant to civilian compared to other conflicts of a similar nature. If you accept the Palestinian figures about 2 civilians are killed for either combatant. If you accept the Israeli count then the ratio is one to one. See:

        http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20719

        The Russians in the first Chechen war had a kill ratio of 10 civilians for every combatant. The United States had the same kill ratio for its drone strikes in Pakistan. Richard Kemp the British Commander in Afghanistan said:

        “The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

        If anything, Israel in difficult circumstances limited the number of civilian casualties in comparison to other conflicts.

        Yonan also is less than honest when he says that:

        “it’s outrageous to say war is inevitable when serious diplomacy has never been tried”.

        The Jewish people pursued diplomacy to avoid the 1947 war by sending diplomats to every Arab capital who would meet with them. The Jews spoke to the head of the Arab League and with the Arab Higher Committee. Golda Meir was smuggled into Jordan to ask Jordan’s King not to enter the war. The Arabs and Palestinian Arabs all said war was inevitable and blood would flow.

        In 1967 Israel offered to return the majority of the territories liberated to Jordan and Egypt in return for recognition and peace. The Arabs responded with no negotiations, no recognition and no peace, only war.

        In 1978 the Egyptians and Israelis offered the Palestinians a seat at the peace table at Camp David and the Palestinians refused to discuss peace but carried on war fare from Lebanon against Israel. In 1991 at Madrid and in 1993 Israel engaged in serious peace negotiations.

        The Oslo Accords were a result of serious negotiations. The Oslo Accords resulted in the installment of terrorist governments in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza in an attempt to reach peace. The Oslo Accords resulted in the establishment of over 25 joint committees to tackle issues between Israelis and Palestinians. These committees ceased to function following the PA’s strategy in 2009 not to cooperate with Israel.

        In 2000, 2001 and 2008 Israel entered long and serious negotiations with the Palestinians and on three occasions made offers to create a Palestinian state and end the conflict. Terrorism and war followed each offer.

        Netanyahu instituted a 10 month building freeze outside of Jerusalem and the Palestinians would not negotiate for 9 of those months. The Palestinians would later walk away from peace negotiations in Jordan. In 2013 Netanyahu sent two seniors negotiators to negotiate on behalf of Israel in the latest failed negotiations.

        To state there have never been serious attempts to reach a solution to the conflict is the result of dishonesty or abject ignorance on the part of the young man.

        Reply to Comment
    2. I salute the “If Not Now, When?” group for their initiative, & Tom Pessah for his report, & +972 Magazine for publishing it. I comment here in six points, all relating broadly to a comment made today on this article by Elie Gabrieli, & the last also to a comment by Ginger Eis.
      1. The State-of-Israel’s occupation of Palestine could not have continued so long, and cannot continue, without the support of the USA & its allies.
      2. The USA’s continued support of the continuing occupation is influenced by the continued & unquestioning support of it by the American Jewish “establishment” , that “’one percent’ – a small group of donors and executives who lead organizations like the Jewish Federations of North America, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International”. This support is further bolstered by similar “one per cent” Jewish “establishments” throughout the Diaspora.
      3. Hence it is not “chutzpah” but a sense of moral responsibility that motivates Jews in the Diaspora to try “to figure out what leverage we have in ending the occupation”.
      4. Nor does the responsibility rest upon Jews alone. The hostility between Arabs and Jews in Palestine was sparked & inflamed by the British during the Mandate period as part of their “divide & rule” policy. The State-of-Israel was established in Palestine as a consequence of a United Nations resolution in November 1947. All member nations of the UN have a moral responsibility for the consequences of that resolution, & are complicit in what has followed. The State-of-Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine is thus a moral issue for citizens of all nations.
      5. It is not an axiom that the State-of-Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine is the only way Israelis can have security. In actual fact the occupation has not brought & cannot sustain “security” for Israelis, since it has led to & will continue to lead to resistance & repeated hostilities on an ever-greater scale, with continued dehumanization & demonization of the Other by both sides. It has not only caused unimaginable suffering & loss to Arab Palestinians & to Israelis as well, but has also turned Jewish-Israeli Palestinians into a nation of jailers & mass killers, a nation that expends so much of its budget on “security” (which includes the expansion of “settlements”) that little is left for education, health, social welfare & housing within the “Green Line”. A total withdrawal of Israel to the pre-’67-war “Green Line” could be the basis for a secure peace settlement. It is not “security” but the ultra-Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” that prevents the leading Israeli political parties from achieving a peace settlement.
      6. “Start being fair?” Is it fair to hold others under brutal occupation so that you can live “securely”? Pressure needs to be applied first of all to the occupiers, not to the occupied.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        How about (a) 100% of Gaza, (b) 100% equivalent of Judea & Samaria, (c) Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and (d) loss of Israeli sovereignty over the Holiest Places in Judaism (the Holy Basin)? This is what PM Olmert (he will be going to jail soon and may he die in jail as he should) offered the Arabs. If the Arabs has accepted that, the “occupation” would have ended. If the Arabs accepted Olmert’s offer, they would have struck a fatal blow in the Jewish heart, but they were too dumb to realize the ramification of what Olmert gave them. The Arabs rejected all that. Imagine that! I have never seen a people so pompous, but also so dumb.So, Mr. Richard Flantz, with morons like yourself, the Middle East needs no (extra) enemies of Peace!

        Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Re The Truth and the lies in Daily Beast article by Bernard Avishai:

            Bernard Avishai in another articel dated Feb. 7, 2011 in the New York Times contradicted what he later said in the dailybeast:

            “Olmert made his most comprehensive offer to Abbas on Sept. 16, 2008, the opening day of the General Assembly in New York. Abbas then “went silent”

            Going silent certainly implies a rejection and that Abbas and the Palestinians were unwilling to pursue further negotiations in wake of Olmert’s offer.

            Jackson Diehl on May 29, 2009 relates an interview in the Washington Post with Abbas, indicating that Abbas had turned down the offer:

            “In our meeting Wednesday, Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.

            Abbas turned it down. “The gaps were wide,” he said.”

            Avi Issacharoff May 24, 2013 in the Tower relates that there had been extensive meetings between Olmert and Abbas between 2006 and 2008 and that the Palestinians had found the offer not suitable. No response was made. Not responding to an offer is considered by most negotiators as a rejection.

            “The two men met 36 times, mostly in Jerusalem and once in Jericho, and arrived at a formula that was to be the basis for a lasting agreement between the two parties. But in the end, peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians were not signed, despite the far-reaching proposal made by Olmert. As an official matter, the Palestinian Authority has not responded.”

            “Asked this week to explain why Abbas would not have accepted such a sweeping offer, a senior Palestinian official told TheTower.org that Olmert’s proposal was not acceptable to Abbas, who has been quoted elsewhere saying, “the gaps were wide.”

            “There were internal Palestinian discussions regarding the proposal. These were serious issues. The natural thing was that Abu Mazen would not sign immediately and would behave responsibly and go back and consult with the PLO leadership.”

            TheTower.org: But until this very day, you still haven’t given him an answer? Why?
            Palestinian Official: ”There was the Gaza operation that stopped everything.”

            TheTower.org: But between the last meeting and the Gaza Operation there were three months. Why didn’t you answer Olmert during that period?
            The official preferred to avoid answering that question.”

            Condi Rice in her memoir “No Higher Honour” confirms that Abbas rejected Olmert’s proposal:

            “The next day I went to see Abbas and asked to see him in the little dining room adjacent to his office,” she continues. “I sketched out the details of Olmert’s proposal and told him how the prime minister wanted to proceed.”

            The breakdown, Rice describes, came during a meeting between Olmert and Abbas in which the Prime Minister urged Abbas to sign an agreement then and there. Abbas said he wanted to consult his experts, but Olmert refused to give him the map with the proposed borders of a future Palestinian state.

            “The Israeli leader told me that he and Abbas had agreed to convene their experts the next day. Apparently that meeting never took place,” writes Rice.

            She continues to say that she wanted to preserve Olmert’s offer and as such, asked Bush to host Olmert and Abbas one last time before he left office.

            “I worried that there might never be another chance like this one,” Rice writes. “Tzipi Livni urged me (and, I believe, Abbas) not to enshrine the Olmert proposal. ‘He has no standing in Israel,’ she said. That was probably true, but to have an Israeli prime minister on record offering those remarkable elements and a Palestinian president accepting them would have pushed the peace process to a new level. Abbas refused.”

            “We had one last chance,” she recalls. “The two leaders came separately in November and December to say good-bye. The President took Abbas into the Oval Office alone and appealed to him to reconsider. The Palestinian stood firm, and the idea died.”

            This sounds very much like a rejection.

            This rejection was followed by a rejectionof resuming negotiations with the Netanyahu government.Abbas told Jackson Diehl in 2009 that he would not negotiate with Israel until Israel met his demands for a settlement freeze:

            “Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won’t even agree to help Obama’s envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. “We can’t talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution,” he insisted in an interview. “Until then we can’t talk to anyone.”

            and

            “Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze — if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office. “It will take a couple of years,” one official breezily predicted. Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession — such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.

            Instead, he says, he will remain passive. “I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.” In the Obama administration, so far, it’s easy being Palestinian.”

            Netanyahu and his government did grant a 10 month settlement freeze but Abbas only came back to the negotiating table for 3 weeks and broke off negotiations.

            Thus Abbas had gambled on a new American administration causing the downfall of the new Israeli government following which Abbas hoped to get better terms than Olmert has offered.He lost the gamble and Olmert’s offer in the process.Netanuyahu’s government did not fall.Netanyahu’s government was eventually re-elected with a more right wing component and Abbas if he goes back to negotiations cannot hope to receive the offer that Olmert made.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          For those interested, here is traitor Olmert in his OWN words as to what he offered the “Palestinians”. We no juvenile propagandists here!

          Is Olmert a liar?

          Watch. And Weep!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyCUBIMrrAg

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Correction

            “… we need NO juvenile propagandist here as evidenced in ‘thedailybeast.com link’ ….” (was meant in my prior post).

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            You guys just never ever quit with the hasbara hackwork do you? I’m beginning to think somebody pays you. Avishai is very close to Olmert, was a real insider, definitely knew what was going on. You didn’t actually read what Avishai wrote, did you?:

            ————-
            ” It is false to state that Abbas rebuffed Olmert’s plan. It is false to say that the Palestinians were unwilling to pursue further negotiations in the wake of Olmert’s offer…

            On the contrary, both Olmert and Abbas emphasized to me that neither side rejected the plan; both understood that they had the basis for a continuing negotiation….

            They did not agree yet on a number; and, swap or no swap, Abbas did not accept the border as Olmert had mapped it out, with Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, and Efrat—that is 5.9 percent of the West Bank—incorporated into Israel. The Palestinians wanted a plan in which 1.9 percent would be Israeli, which would allow 62 percent of settlers to remain in place. But closing such gaps is what just American mediation would be for.

            Why did Abbas not come back immediately with a counter-proposal? Well, from Abbas’s point of view, Olmert’s was the counter-proposal…..”

            ———————-

            And THEN, on top of that, you trot out the slick talker par excellence, that total convicted CROOK, Olmert himself, and treat his every verbal spin as gospel truth when in all other instances you vilify him as a lying traitor! LoL!

            If YOU were a Palestinian leader (an impossible feat of empathy for you, I understand, I really do) would YOU agree to Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim?! This is the arrogant, comfortable delusion of entitlement that types like you operate with on your hard drive, that you’re gonna keep Ariel! ARIEL!!! LoL! Better defragment and clean! Or maybe a kind of therapy is called for. Issacharoff (actually read Avishai please) is not the only one “impacted with narcissism.” It’s a fact universally agreed upon outside of the inner circle of Bibi and Sara that the two of them are incorrigible narcissists. But the right wing behind Bibi shares this trait structure to a striking degree. Just LOOK at Ya’alon’s latest farcical troubles:

            http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/1.622632

            http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/1.622717

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          • Brian

            Here we go again. Once again, all false outright or severely distorted. In other words, more baloney. And brazenly saying it over and over does not make it less false. Actually READ Avishai this time.

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          • Yeah, right

            Ginger: “Is Olmert a liar?”

            Too. Funny.

            I would suggest that the jury verdict in the Holyfield Case gives the definitive answer: Yes, Olmert is a lyin’ sack o’ sh*t.

            Ginger: “(i.e. the map) provided by the Palestinian themselves (!!)”

            I really do urge everyone to follow the link to the Times of Israel and examine that “map”.

            Then mull the idea that the executive committee of the PLO was expected to make a monumental decision on the future of their people based upon…. that map.

            Honestly, are you for real?

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          • Ginger Eis

            Olmert – in his own words – offered a land swap ratio of 1:1. The map indicated where the swaps will take place. If you don’t deny that, tell me then, how “the executive committee of the PLO was [not] expected to make a monumental decision on the future of their people based upon…. that map.”? You need to make a series of coherent arguments.

            If you deny that Olmert offered a 1:1 ratio land swap, you may state why, but there will be no logical basis for continuing the discussion on this topic.

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          • Yeah, right

            Ginger: “Olmert – in his own words – offered a land swap ratio of 1:1”

            Yeah, and “Olmert says” isn’t exactly a slam-dunk.

            Ginger: “If you deny that Olmert offered a 1:1 ratio land swap, you may state why”

            OK, fine. I’ll state why.

            This is a fact: nobody except Abbas has ever seen the “Olmert Map”.

            Which means that this is also a fact: nobody can be certain that “what Olmert said” about that map is accurate.

            Here, an example: Did Olmert include the Latrun Salient in the area that was being “swapped” and, if so, which side was “giving it up”?

            Nobody knows, because you’d need to look at Olmert’s Map to work that out.

            Here, another example: there were areas of “no man’s land” in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Did “Olmert’s Map” regard them as “Israeli territory”, thus inflating the areas that were “his to swap”?

            Nobody knows, because you’d need access to “Omert’s Map” to find that out.

            There are PLENTY of ways in which Olmert could claim he was offering a 1:1 swap when what he was actually “offering” was Palestinian territory for Palestinian territory.

            The only way to determine if Olmert was being honest (Hah! Too Funny!) is to look at OLMERT’S map, not Abbas’ sketch of Olmert’s map.

            Abbas was no fool, nor was he a cartographer. He wanted to take the map with him so that his cartographers could examine it.

            Olmert refused. Funny that…..

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          • Noe

            Oh please, they had been negotiating for months. Even if we go by your sordid conspiracy theory that makes Abbas a buffoon and Olmert a clever reptile – how surprising – the amount of land included in the “no man’s land” is not so significant that it would dramatically alter ratios or percentages.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            Noe: “Oh please, they had been negotiating for months.”

            Oh, please, spare me.

            Olmert’s Map was show to Abbas exactly once, and Olmert insisted that Abbas had to agree then and there or he wouldn’t be allowed to take that map out of the room.

            So the Total And Complete Sum Of Time that Abbas was allowed to examine that map was…. once.

            The Total And Complete Sum Of Time that Abbas’ cartographers were allowed to examine that map was… never.

            Not once.
            Not ever.

            Noe: “Even if we go by your sordid conspiracy theory that makes Abbas a buffoon and Olmert a clever reptile – how surprising – “…

            … I’m going to stop you right there and point out that one of those two men – Abbas and Olmert – is a convicted liar and criminal.

            Care to guess which one?

            Noe: …”the amount of land included in the “no man’s land” is not so significant that it would dramatically alter ratios or percentages.”

            Oh, really? And you base that on… what, exactly?

            The issue is this: in 1988 the PLO agreed to concede everything that was on the “Israeli side” of the 1949 Armistice Line.

            Which means that as far as the Palestinians are concerned any attempt by Olmert to “swap” any territory that lies over that 1949 line is a con-trick.

            That means East Jerusalem.
            That means the Latrun Salient.
            That means any “no man’s land”

            Now, how much of that territory was included in Olmert’s “swap”?

            Nobody knows, because no cartographer has ever been allowed to examine Olmert’s map.

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    3. Noe

      “A lot of American Jews were frustrated about the war and 47 years of occupation and they want to do something about it.”

      So presumably these American Jews are targeting the Arab countries for discourse along with the Palestinian leadership of Hamas and the PA in order to get them to accept one of Israel’s peace offers?

      Oh no. I guess they’re targeting the American Jewish leadership. And why? Do they really think they can make Israel give up land without assurances? The lessons from Gaza aren’t profound and disturbing enough?

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      • Eliza

        Come on Noa – Its appears that American Jews are concerned at the disconnect between the views of peak American Jewish organisations and the general Jewish American community.

        It also appears that the uniting factor, at the moment, is a sense that the occupation is wrong and must end and that organisations that claim to speak on behalf of American Jewry must take account of the more varied and nuanced opinions of American Jews regarding Israel.

        Their spokesperson has responded to all questions in a reasonable and intelligent way. But there is no set agenda or stated preference for BDS (or not), 1 or 2 SS etc. Right now, they are feeling their way – if I was you and I wanted to influence them I try and make my points in a more reasoned way. Don’t think they are gonna respond to slogans and threats.

        It really looks like ‘Protective Edge’ has woken up a sleeping giant.

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    4. I’m hopeful that young people all over, but particularly in the US since the US bankrolled (and continues to) the horror show in Gaza this summer, will do everything they can, through BDS, pressuring their senators and all elected officials, to end the occupation and support a one state for all people in israel. The current situation can’t stand much longer.

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      • Noe

        The current situation can last for decades longer.

        The lessons of Gaza appear to be lost on you. Israel left Gaza entirely. The “horror show” was created for you by Hamas for your consumption.

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        • Your response comes as no surprise and is total fabrication. If israel left Gaza entirely, how is it there is no freedom of movement for Gazans and they are in perpetual lockdown? Who are manning the gates, fences and various other military structures? The UN? israel has complete control over Gaza and has ever since their so-called withdrawal. Now, per instructions from your masters, blame the Palestinians for electing Hamas in a democratic process. Last april hamas and fatah agreed to form a unity government and drove netanyahu and his buddies crazy, which prompted them to end any kind of “talks” and start planning their “mowing the lawn”. It took them a few months of course, but they eventually did what they always do every few years and bomb the shit out of Gaza, killing 2200 people (75% noncombatants). Please preach to the choir at arutz sheva – they love it when you talk dirty.

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    5. Ben Zakkai

      Yonah Lieberman, you apparently have brass balls. It takes a good bit of courage to devote oneself to challenging the American Jewish establishment’s unflinching support of every Israeli atrocity. Of course, Yonah, it’s also possible that you have no brains, since the notion of getting the Jewish Federations, AIPAC, the ADL and Hillel to criticize Israel’s Occupation seems about as feasible as getting them to sponsor a pig roast on the White House lawn. But maybe that’s exactly what we need right now: young people who are too stupid to know what’s impossible. They just might achieve it.

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    6. Newsflash – supporting israel is supporting occupation, period.

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      • Ginger Eis

        You see, Marnie, as a supporter of one-state-solution and given your virulent hatred of the Jewish State, you are just another hatemonger that shares an ideology inherent in Nazism and other forms of anti-Semitism according to which The Jewish People have no right to Self-determination anywhere on earth and has led to near extinction of The Jewish People. But today, The Jewish State Of Israel IS and will ever BE! Any ugly head, such as yours, that rears itself up against it will be crushed, got it, marnie?! Never ever question The Resolve Of The Jewish People to defend themselves in Their Ancestral Homeland. Enjoy …..

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMWcAIHFawc

        Am Yisrael Chai!

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    7. Richard

      Its the same people, forming a different group. BDS, SJP, Open Hillel – you can repackage your BS every year but nothing’s changed: there is a small minority of guilt-ridden, confused, unread young Jews who don’t understand or care about Israel. Whatever, doesn’t matter.

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      • Ben Zakkai

        Or, I dunno, they’re a small minority of people with some perspective and conscience who care about Israel, so they don’t want it to be a neo-fascist, retro-apartheid, gun-fucking Dr. Strangelove kind of theocratic ethnocracy. Whatever, doesn’t matter.

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        • Ginger Eis

          Indeed.” They care about Israel” by demanding ONE-State-Solution!
          “They care about Israel” by chanting “free free Palestine, from the river to the sea Palestine will be free”!
          “They care about Israel” by demanding the imposition of BDS on Israel and her economic collapse!
          “They care about Israel” by non-stop demonization of Israel, dehumanization of Jews and endangerment of the lives of ordinary Jews both in Israel and abroad!
          In fact, “they care about Israel” sooooooo much that they respect the Will of the People Of Israel as expressed in democratic elections!
          You, Ben Zakkai, are really stoned! Jackass.

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          • Ben Zakkai

            Yeah Ginger, I love you too. Try increasing your medication, or maybe mixing it with gin and tonic. I’ll be looking for the day when Israel actually has democratic elections, defined as, I dunno, actually letting all the people whose lives are controlled by the State of Israel, actually vote for its government. Gotcha Ginger, you silly little goose!

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          • Ginger Eis

            Finally you reveal who you really are. Who could have imagined that?! What you say and want, sir, is exactly what the Supreme Terrorist Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran says and wants. Both of you say and want the same thing: One-State; End of Israel; End of Jewish Self-determination!

            I have noted it down in your file.

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          • Brian

            Uh oh better watch out Ben!, Geheimestaatspolizei-und-Hauptpropagandaoffizier Eis has you marked down in her files!!!! She actually says stuff like this! “I have noted it down in your file.” Hilarious! Advisable response: In your best Sergeant Schulz voice: “I see NOTHINGK! I know NOTHINGK! Ya. WOHL. mein. Kommandant.!”

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          • I can’t believe what he/she says and the dictatorial style or is it a messiah complex? I can’t tell, but oy that’s some funny talk from a looney tune.

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          • Ben Zakkai

            No actually Ginger, I’m a two-stater and would prefer for Israel to get the hell out of the Occupied Territories and give the Palestinians a reasonable state. But if Israel won’t do that — and we clearly doesn’t want to because we’d rather steal more land — then yes, you’ve got to give Palestinians citizenship and the vote.

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    8. Bruce Gould

      This will all end the way apartheid did. Palestinians are realizing that it doesn’t make sense to talk about a two state solution; there’s only one state that controls everything, Israel. The center of gravity of Palestinian political sentiment is shifting towards getting the vote and equal rights; increasingly the ‘conflict’ (Gideon Levy says that there isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict’ any more than there was a French-Algerian ‘conflict’) will be framed in terms of apartheid and civil rights. There will be buckets of blood (mostly Palestinian), boycotts, sanctions and divestment, and it will take another 25 years, at the end of which time there will be one state for everyone between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, Egypt and Lebanon.

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      • Ginger Eis

        Wow, this got to be the Ultimate Rupture! what an upheaval! What an Apocalypse! What an Armageddon! To your Tents oooh Israel! Thus says the prophets of delusion and lunacy: behoooold “there isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict’ any more than there was a French-Algerian ‘conflict’) will be framed in terms of apartheid and civil rights. There will be buckets of blood (mostly Palestinian), boycotts, sanctions and divestment, and it will take another 25 years, at the end of which time there will be one state for everyone between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, Egypt and Lebanon.” To your Tents, oooh Israel! Serious, Bruce, from which hole do lunies such as yourself and your ilk emerge from?

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      • Pedro X

        Bruce, PSR surveys of the Palestinians of themselves show that only 1 in four wants a single state.

        Most Palestinians want two states, one a Judenrein state in the West Bank and Gaza and a majority Arab state in Israel by virtue of the “wrong of return” with a resulting minority Jewish population. Either way the Palestinian public is not prepared to accept a Jewish state living in peace next to a Palestinian state. There will never be an one state solution. the Jewish state will continue to exist.

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        • Eliza

          Pedro – You may well be right that most Palestinians want an independent sovereign Palestinian State under a 2SS solution.

          However, as well all know, this option is pretty much dead. The real question is do Palestinians prefer to live as equals in a one state solution or to live within the confines of autonomous bantustans.

          If the later, then I’m sure Israel will oblige. If the former, then there is hard struggle ahead for full civil rights for all Palestinians. But Israel cannot win this struggle.

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          • Pedro X

            The two state solution can be revived by the Palestinians accepting what is practicable in terms of their state. They are going to have to accept a demilitarized state with an Israeli presence in the Jordan valley. They are going to have to accept that there is no inherent right of return and negotiate a limited number of Palestinians being allowed to settle in Israel. They will have to accept a sharing of Judea and Samaria a land swaps in compensation. They will have to accept that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people.

            Palestinians will never be able to force an one state solution on Israel. No country can.

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    9. One tack for “If Not Now, When” might be to out to one side (temporarily) all questions of peace, treaties, 1SS or 2SS, etc., and, instead, take a principled position of calling upon Israel to comply with the international law of occupation for so long as the occupation(s) last.

      In my view a sufficient such “calling upon Israel to comply” would be to call upon Israel, for the [LONG] duration of the occupations, to remove all settlers and dismantle all settlement buildings and the wall; and to end the blockade of Gaza.

      Such a call is in line with international rule of law, would actually help the Palestinians and any syrians living under occupation, and would indicate a willingness on the part of the “If Not Now, When” people to put Israel to enormous expense in the service of law. Such a call would also call into question, and deny, that the so-called “facts on the ground” are the permanent facts that Israel would have them appear to be.

      Such a call is not antisemitic and not anti-Israel; it is merely a call for the regularization of a system that began toi run amok in 1967 and has been heading in a disasterous direction with increasing frenzy ever since.

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      • Brian

        Pabelmon, thank you, now there’s some fresh thinking, sorely needed around here. Changing the rules of the game. Most of the time the ferocious pseudo-debates here are really in the service of locking in the same corrupt game. A paradigm shift is sorely needed. Your proposal is a paradigm shift. Please contribute more frequently and develop this. You’d be doing this forum a needed service.

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        • Brian, Thanks for your kind remarks. Perhaps my ideea is either good or fresh. It is certainly a paradigm shift from the party-lines of those committed to incrementalism by tiny, tiny increments.

          Please promote the idea if you like it! It does not belong to me. read UNSC-465 (1980)! I read it to demand that: all settelrs and all settlements must go!

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    10. Tom P.

      if you’re on Facebook, check out the pages of If Not Now, When in DC, Boston,, Deep South, Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado,(SF) Bay Area and Chicago, with lots of footage of their actions.

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    11. Victor Arajs

      The late Helen Thomas had it right. The only solution is for the zionists to get the hell out of Palestine. As long as “If not now, when” is not leading an exodus out of stolen Palestine, it is part of the problem, not part of the solution

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      • Tom P.

        do you also demand that any non-Native Americans get the hell out of the U.S.?

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        • Victor Arajs

          You didn’t answer my question. You stole Palestine, are you going to return it?

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          • Tom P.

            if returning it means working to unravel all structures of inequality, then yes. If it means exiling myself from the country I was born in because my grandfather wasn’t Palestinian, then no. All people born in the the country, and its refugees, have a right to live in it.
            And now respond to my question: are you demanding that anyone who doesn’t have Native American heritage leave the U.S.?

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          • Victor Arajs

            The fundamental difference between the US and the zionist entity is that the US is a highly imperfect but legitimate country. In constrast, the Israel is based upon a fraudulent concept of a jewihs homeland. Historically, the jews have as much of a claim to Palestine as they do to the Philippines. A final solution to the Palestinian problem demands that Jews evacuate Palestine and return home. Until you work on the root solution, you are no different than Baruch Goldstein, perhaps even worse because Baruch Goldstein didnt cover his crimes and you are. The fact that your grandfather committed war crimes against the “natives” doesnt give you any special standing. It gives you the responsibility of correcting his crimes which you can do by packing your bags and leaving, an easy task in this age of jet planes

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    12. Average American

      Tom P. – If your question recognizes the difference between native and non-native Americans, then you must compare that to native and non-native Middle Easterners in the region now called Israel. The crackers running Israel are not native. (Cracker is a term in USA used by black people to refer to very white people with very white self-superior attitudes).

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      • Tom P.

        there is a massive amount of things that need to change, from people’s attitudes to a slew of discriminatory policies that need to be abolished, through compensation and re-distribution, but none of that should involve a new drive to exile people from the place they were born in. We’ve had enough ethnic cleansing in this country, no need to call for more. Most of the Palestinians I know are advocating for equal rights for everyone.

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