New anti-Israel group debuts in Seattle
Rabbi David Basior’s Kadima Congregation & Cong. Kol Ami’s Rabbi Kinberg join BDS friendly group in anti-Israel protest.
Shielding themselves from the persistent Seattle drizzle, about a dozen protesters huddled under a protective overhang alongside the Henry M. Jackson Federal building this morning. Evenly divided between millennials and the middle aged, they dutifully scribbled their timeworn slogans upon the dampening slabs of white poster paper. In all appearances unremarkable, this was in fact the inaugural event for the Seattle branch of IfNotNow. Drawing participants across the spectrum, from the anti-settlement left to the hard anti-Zionist left, the group’s stated purpose is to pressure “American Jewish institutions to end their support for the occupation”. The group hopes to achieve this goal via engineering disturbances in the lobbies of Jewish communal organizations and at pro-Israel events like the AIPAC policy conference.
IfNotNow is not a pro-Israel organization. It does not deserve the support of left-leaning American Jews. – Rabbi Eric Yoffie
Officially IfNotNow is agnostic on BDS, Zionism and even on whether there should exist a Jewish State. From their website; “We do not take a unified stance on BDS, Zionism or the question of statehood.” According to NGO Monitor “If Not Now has been criticized for refusing to engage in dialogue with those it criticizes in the Jewish community.”
IfNotNow leader Sarah Brammer-Shlay has voiced her support for the anti-Semitic BDS movement saying “I see it as a legitimate tactic to fighting the atrocities of the occupation”
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism has condemned IfNotNow, describing it as “not a pro-Israel organization” adding that “it does not deserve the support of left-leaning American Jews”. Says Rabbi Yoffie, “It takes no position on whether or not Jews should have a state in the Land of Israel. It takes no position on Zionism, which asserts the right of Jews to a homeland that is both Jewish and democratic. It takes no position on BDS, the movement that attempts to do away with Israel through a policy of economic boycott, divestment, and sanctions. No person or organization can claim to be a friend of Israel and remain silent on matters so fundamental to Israel’s character and very existence.”
Rabbi Daniel Gordis posits that “It is quite possible, even leaders on the left have noted, that If Not Now is one of several organizations masquerading as pro-Israel groups who wish to end the occupation, when what they really wish to end is Israel.”
Anti-Zionist activist Phil Weiss lauds IfNotNow as a gateway drug to anti-Israel activism. He told readers of his rabidly anti-Israel website Mondoweiss that IfNotNow “will have the effect of bringing mainstream Jews into the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement on their own terms.”
Simone Adler, the organizer of today’s Seattle protest is well known in anti-Israel circles, being one of six locals joining Rabbi David Basior this May to engage in “direct action” against the IDF in Hebron. Although Rabbi Basior himself did not attend today’s march, his Kadima Congregation was well represented with a large banner bobbing above the anti-Israel slogans.
Not deterred by IfNotNow’s friendly association with the BDS movement, Rabbi Yohana Kinberg of Reform Congregation Kol Ami in Woodinville was a visible and enthusiastic participant in the anti-Israel outing.
Photo Credit: The Mike Report
Efforts at interviewing participants were repeatedly spoiled by a terse directive from a group leader to protesters. Nevertheless, I was able to chat with a few participants as they made their way from downtown Seattle to Cal Anderson Park.
Although extremely guarded and unwilling to be recorded on video, I found all who were willing to speak with me to be civil. I asked each of those with whom I spoke the same question, “In your opinion is the Western Wall occupied territory?” The answers provided were enlightening. One woman said she believed Jerusalem should be internationalized and supported a one state solution. When I asked if Jerusalem held any special sanctity and attachment for Jews, she replied “it holds a special place for many faiths.” Another protester answered in the affirmative, that in his mind the Western Wall was indeed occupied territory. I followed up by asking him if Jaffa was also occupied, he said he did not know enough about the situation to answer. He suggested I browse the IfNotNow website for an answer (spoiler alert, no answer there).
The last interview of the day was with Rainer Waldman Adkins, a local artist and former Seattle chair of J Street. Waldman Adkins will be joining the Seattle anti-Israel contingent traveling to Hebron this May. When asked if the Western Wall is in his mind occupied territory, he acknowledged the sacred status Jews ascribe to the site but emphasized “armed conflict should not determine a situation”. “Reluctantly” said Waldman-Adkins even this holy place “should be up for negotiation”.
Editor: This article has been updated to include a quote from Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Phil Weiss.
MORE ABOUT IFNOTNOW:
- Haaretz: Rabbi Eric Yoffie Says IfNotNow Doesn’t Deserve Support of Left-leaning Jews
- Jewish Journal: Stop Patronizing IfNotNow
- Rabbi Daniel Gordis: IfNotNow’s Cause Isn’t Clear
- JTA: Anti-Israel Jews Protest Outside AIPAC Conference
- I24 News: Anti-Israel activists arrested over Passover protests
- JTA: Jewish Fed of L.A. Rejects Donations to IfNotNow. Will not Donate to Anti-Israel Non-Profits.
- Unabashed Antisemitism Takes Center Stage At This Year’s Anti-AIPAC Protest
- Anti-Israel Mondoweiss: “IfNotNow will bring Mainstream Jews into BDS Movement”
- WSJ: Calling Israel an “Occupier” is a Polite Way to Demonize.
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Antisemitism is a mental disorder that makes no rational sense, and cannot be cured by the Jewish people trying to be a nicer more generous people in the eyes of the world. For example, every time the Jewish State of Israel has given up land for peace it has only proven the definition of insanity, (doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result) to be absolutely true. So I would like this message to strongly resonate not only in the minds of my fellow Jewish brethren, but all the diverse people and Nations of the world. As I believe the antisemitic double standard Israel experiences stems from not taking a strong stand on who we the Jewish people are as a Nation, and all the land of Israel that belongs to the Jewish people. When we are strong the world leaves us alone, but when we compromise our very legitimate existence, especially with the Arab Nations, the Jewish people dilute their own National integrity amongst the Nations of the world. This I believe is the root cause of antisemitism and the double standard that exists against the Jewish State of Israel in the media and the United Nations and many countries around the world. I want the Jewish people to jump way in front of the media and all the Jew hating entities and take a strong National stand amongst the Nations of the world and self actuate the Jewish State of Israel’s true narrative and stop trying to please the Arab’s and others who want to wipe us out as a people. I would rather be hated by the world then loved by a world who tries to save us (G-D for bid) from another holocaust. I DO NOT want the world to love the Jewish State of Israel, but to “RESPECT” it and the Jewish people collectively. This can only begin to happen with a ONE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL solution with established secure borders, including its language and culture preserved in perpetuity via implementing national laws similar to the democratically run countries of Japan and Switzerland. Once we as a collective Jewish Nation stand up and say in unison, ISRAEL is L.E.G.I.T., then and only then will antisemitism and the double standard begin to disappear and the “TRUE JEWISH NATIONAL NARRATIVE” rise up throughout the Community of Nations around the world!
I would like to point out that being against an action or series of actions taken by a government, is not the same as being against a country. For example, being against the USA’s actions in Vietnam, or Iraq, or Grenada, etc., did not make one anti-American. Sometimes the most patriotic act one can commit is to protest the actions of a government. The founders of the USA, in fact, considered it a patriotic duty. As a American Jew with emotional and family ties to Israel, I feel the same responsibility.
Criticizing Israel does not make one anti-Israel; joining with those who wish her destroyed does.
That’s akin to saying that the boycott of the Montgomery Bus system was an attempt to destroy the Montgomery Bus system. Or that the Woolworth’s boycott was an attempt to destroy Woolworth’s. They were not attempts to “destroy,” but attempts (successful in both instances) to change policies.
The US civil rights movement did not question America’s right to exist, many leaders of IfNotNow do. IfNotNow takes no position on whether Israel should exist as a Jewish state or be dismantled.
Martin Luther King Jr.: “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”
Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967
“I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God.” “
I am the guy you misquoted. You did not ask me if the Western Wall was occupied territory, but if the West Bank was occupied territory. Which it is, so I said it was. I never referred you to any website. I told you I was there because AIPAC does not speak for me, but if it speaks for you, fine. Your “journalism” is really lame, as are your lies about Rabbi Kinberg, who was certainly nor there. You got some issue, bro’.
Dear Bite Me: Thank you for your comment. I interviewed several people, some I found worth quoting, others (like you) not. And I did not ask anybody about the West Bank as I have no interest in that question. I did converse with somebody briefly about differentiating between 1948 Israel and 1967 Israel, was that you? Rabbi Kinberg joined up with the group at Cal Anderson Park. You may wish to ask her if she was there. Either you weren’t at Cal Anderson park or you don’t know what Rabbi Kinberg looks like.
I’ll stand my my comments. A reliable news article uses actual quotes, usually taken from notes. You took no notes.
The photo of Rabbi Kinberg at the rally (above) says all that needs to be said about your reliability. I have other photos of her there if one is not enough.
And the woman in your photos with the dogs is not Rabbi Kinberg.
Again, Bite Me, this speaks to your reliability or lack thereof.
This misleading headline is “fake news.” These folks aren’t anti-Israel and Rabbi Kinberg has a long history of actively opposing BDS in Olympia, where I’ve lived. They represent the loving opposition to oppressive policies that violate the very Jewish ethical principles meant to serve as a light unto the nations.
IfNotNow is not a pro Israel organization. If you don’t think so, argue with Rabbi Eric Yoffie, he says “IfNotNow is not a pro-Israel organization. It does not deserve the support of left-leaning American Jews.”
Disheartening. Thank you for carrying on with your good work.
Always sad to discover that they know so little about the subject of their activism. Is this why they are told not to give any interviews?
Might be interesting to ask them about historical/current facts, rather than just their opinions, though amazingly, they seemed to have a hard enough time even with those questions.
I wonder how they’d respond to whether or not they think it’s better to be hated by terrorists/anti-semites or loved by them? Maybe they just want to be loved.
Here is an article on the new ban on BDS supporters passed by the Knesset.
To all the BDS anti-Israel idiots of Seattle, who seem to have no shame in revealing how much ignorance you represent – if you show up at the airport in Tel Aviv, you will be denied entrance to Israel and will be put right back on a plane to Seattle. So you will be paying high airfare to enjoy your two days of sitting in a plane. Israel has enacted a law which allows the government to deny a tourist visa to all BDS supporters. You will not get to carry out your silly worthless plans to demonstrate in Hebron. I personally would prefer we send you all to Gaza where you can experience the dhimmi experience you all so crave, and maybe witness an honor killing or two, or public hanging of gays, but no, you will even be denied those joys. So save your money and don’t buy those tickets. Better you should spend the money on a course that would teach you how to tell the difference between lies and propaganda and real news.
Because Israel is what, a democracy? That’s why opposing views are banned? Some democracy.
Foreign nationals with malevolent designs being banned entry to a country does not mean that country is not democratic. We have every right to defend ourselves from those who wish to destroy us.
Israeli citizens debate and argue endlessly about more or less everything. Because of the different political system, there is a far wider representation of differing and opposing views in the Israeli Knesset than in the US representative houses. Our democracy is loud and turbulent, and, all things considered, pretty damn amazing. You, with your polite suppression of ‘wrong’ words and ‘wrong’ views, can envy us.
And the weather is better than in Seattle as well.
This makes us sick too. And to think she uses our temple as if she represents the entire congregation. No way and we will be resigning forthwith if these are the facts.
Ugh… going to be sick.