The anti-Israel ‘IfNotNow’ organization is escalating its campaign to drag diaspora Jewish organizations to turn away from their pro-Israel focus, according to an article written this weekend by journalist Eliana Rudee. The organization is working hard to persuade American Jewish organizations to begin to teach their participants the “Palestinian narrative” and distance American Jews from supporting Israel. The group is also beginning to gain traction as an attractive funding option for those who hate Israel.
The types of organizations who are now funding IfNowNow and helping to bring its hate to a larger stage also bear watching. NGO Monitor North American Desk director Yona Schiffmiller notes that one of the funding sources for the organization is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, something he said was ‘very worrying.’
The Foundation for Middle East Peace is also funding the group, Schiffmiller says. IfNotNow just received a grant, in fact, on June 18 that is intended, among other things, to “insert authentic Palestinian voices into mainstream American media coverage.” According to Schiffmiller, the Foundation consistently supports groups that back the BDS movement and those who seek to delegitimize Israel, as does the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Now, IfNotNow will also take its place among that list.
One major target of the group has been the Taglit Birthright program, which was recently infiltrated by a group of five members of the IfNotNow organization. The infiltrators went on the trip only to quit the tour on the last day, brazenly making a speech on the bus to the rest of the participants about their having been “misled” and then inviting them to join a pre-arranged tour of Hebron with the anti-Israel ‘Breaking the Silence’ NGO.
Another target has been the venerable Camp Ramah, which invited 15 alumni of six of its summer camps to sit down with its national Ramah Commission director, Rabbi Mitch Cohen, back in March of this year. Ever the diplomat, the rabbi heard them out and assured them that their views would be included in the summer curriculum.
That didn’t mean, however, that Camp Ramah would suddenly become the bastion of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement that the IfNotNow crowd was clearly hoping for. And to make sure there was no mistake, Ramah issued statement of clarification in which that point was noted: “Unfortunately, some recent articles in the Jewish press have mischaracterized our educational mission, leading some to believe that our 70-year history of strong pro-Israel ideology has changed. It has not. […] Our older teens and staff members represent a range of opinions on many contemporary issues, and a wide variety of positions supporting Israel can be voiced and discussed. We do not, however, permit the sharing of anti-Israel educational messages at camp,” the statement said.
A subsequent statement was also later sent to institutional partners on June 11 to make sure its intent was clear. “Ramah camps have not engaged — and will not engage — in any way with IfNotNow as an organization. This past winter, members of the National Ramah staff agreed to meet with 15 Ramah alumni affiliated with IfNotNow, who wanted to share their perspectives. After listening to their views, we made it very clear to them that while liberal pro-Israel views on the conflict can be voiced and taught at camp, we do not allow any anti-Israel, anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist education at Ramah.”
IfNotNow has said from the start that it seeks to “change the way the Jewish community supports the occupation.”
“The time has come to end our community’s support for the occupation,” announces the organization’s website in large, bold capital letters. “We will be the generation to do it…Through public action and imaginative ritual, we are demanding that our community take action in the struggle for mutual liberation. Our strategy is inspired by a long legacy of social movements in this country – from the Labor Movement to the Civil Rights Movement to Occupy to Black Lives Matter – that have used nonviolent action to create urgency around moral crises and caralyze massive changes in the mainstream.”
Late Saturday night, IfNotNow Boston member Ben Doernberg was arrested demonstrating against the American government’s immigration policies. He was during a protest “demanding an end to family separation and #AbolishICE,” according to an announcement on the IfNotNow website. (ICE is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.)
Even if one were to make the stretch and pretend for a brief moment that IfNotNow were remotely relevant as a Jewish organization, one still would have to ask how it is possible to find any connection between its domestic political activities in the United States — which are clearly anarchist — and its stated agenda in the state of Israel.
It is increasingly obvious that IfNotNow is not about positive advocacy for moral progress in Israel; it’s about anarchy and destruction anywhere it can extend its reach, and precious little else.