A man waits for the start of the evening's speeches at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – A Jewish group opposed to Israel’s administration of the West Bank took to the streets of Washington this week, hoping to push back against a narrative that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee enjoys robust bipartisan support.
Hundreds gathered under the banner of IfNotNow, a group that has recently focused its efforts around a “Jewish resistance” campaign targeting the Trump administration.
Their Monday march conflated both of these causes as one in the same, explained Yonah Lieberman, 25, a founding member of IfNot- Now.
“For us, the fact that this year marks the first year of Trump’s presidency and the 50th year of occupation forces the Jewish community to ask itself: which side are we on?” Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post.
“We cannot resist Trump while being silent on the occupation because Trump and Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] are two sides of the same coin. They use the same violent rhetoric and promote the same nationalist policies.”
Pence vows US loyalty to Israel during AIPAC speech (credit: REUTERS)
The organization claims that over 1,000 people attended the protest, which reached the convention center that was hosting AIPAC’s 18,000 attendees. Several protesters managed entry into the facility, while AIPAC reportedly revoked some credentials of IfNotNow activists.
“Because of Trump’s rhetoric, we’re watching the sharpest rise of antisemitism in this country in a generation,” Lieberman said. “Yet AIPAC and the majority of the Jewish establishment have chosen a pro-Israel-at-all-cost approach to politics, cozying up to Trump to ensure his administration continues to support Israel unconditionally.”
Protests are a common occurrence at AIPAC conferences, but IfNot- Now’s demonstration was larger than most – and may have been the largest such demonstration organized by Jewish activists for the Jewish community. The march began in Franklin Square, outside the headquarters of The Washington Post.
“Trump’s first year in office and the 50th year of occupation are coming together to pose a unique crisis for the American Jewish community,” said Mira Revesz, an IfNotNow spokesperson. “This crisis calls for nothing less than bold, moral action that can transform our community.”
The organization has recently protested White House adviser Stephen Bannon, calling him a racist, and David Friedman – Trump’s newly minted ambassador to Israel – terming him a “pro-occupation extremist.” On social media, the group notes that AIPAC congratulated Friedman on his nomination, adding, “We know what side you’re on.”
Their page has 22,125 likes on Facebook, where the organization describes itself as “a national movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.” IfNotNow has chapters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington and Los Angeles.