IfNotNow stages protest theater in JFNA's lobby on January 9, 2017, photo by twitter user Ethan Miller
Peoplehood, Politics

IfNotNow Builds the Community We Need Through Protest

[pullquote align=right] If our leadership will not lead, we will.
[/pullquote]This morning, January 9, dozens of Jews braved frigid weather to join IfNotNow in turning up the heat on the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Gathering in the heart of Washington DC for the morning rush hour, this action aimed directly at JFNA’s headquarters in order to deliver the message that is the essence of the movement: if our leadership will not lead, we will.
In the wake of the Trump election, IfNotNow led a series of actions that has developed in to the core of the “Jewish Resistance.” Just before Chanukah, IfNotNow issued an ultimatum to the JFNA and mainstream establishment: follow Jewish principles to take a stand against the appointment of Stephen Bannon and nomination of David Friedman, or face public resistance from those who will. The ultimatum asked for the JFNA to act before the end of Chanukah, which it failed to do. IfNotNow is living up to its end of the bargain and organizing actions across the country.
The main event of today’s action was a bit of “lobby theater,” where IfNotNow leaders held a “press conference” next to an empty podium for JFNA leaders. Although the stage was a bit absurd, the point and message were not, and they got straight to the heart of what the JFNA says it is.
[pullquote align=left] If our traditional leaders will not do what is right, “we will build the community we need.”
[/pullquote]On  the JFNA’s website, which loudly proclaims it touches “more Jewish lives than any other organization in the world,” the organization asks a simple question: “What is leadership?” According to the JFNA, leadership is “sharing time and talents. Shaping current programs and future plans. For others, it’s organizing around meaningful issues. Or investing in communal infrastructure.”
Exactly right. The sad truth, however, is that the meaningful issues and communal infrastructure needed right now are not the safe approaches and tolerance delivered by the mainstream community toward the dangerous views of President-Elect Trump, Stephen Bannon, or David Friedman. Real action is required to reflect Jewish values and preserve hopes for peace and justice.
Hopefully the JFNA leadership tuned in to the livestream of today’s press conference, saw the empty podium, and heard the voices of those who are truly leading right now. If they did, they heard the real message of this ultimatum: if our traditional leaders will not do what is right, “we will build the community we need.”

4 thoughts on “IfNotNow Builds the Community We Need Through Protest

  1. This is great. Also, here is a brief, not-at-all-close-to-exhaustive list of organizations that touch more Jewish lives than JFNA: Google, Wal-Mart, Facebook, Frito-Lay.

  2. I am thrilled at the actions you are taking to hold mainstream Jewish groups accountable. They are a disgrace.

  3. Neither Trump nor Bannon is an anti semite or racist. The “left” is increasingly the home of violent Jew Hatred, holocaust denial or minimization as well as those seeking the elimination of Israel (like the very racist “jewish” Voice for Peace among others). If Not Now should use their tremendous sense of self righteousness to speak out about the anti Jewish hate so characteristic of the left.

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