Photo source: IfNotNow on Facebook

CAMERA’s campus advisor and strategic planner Yoni Michanie

The trope that Jews (or in this convenient case, the Jewish state) are the cause of another people’s suffering is not a new one. In fact, New York Times author Bari Weiss has traced it back to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, and explains:

“In the New Testament, it is a small band of Jews who get Rome — then the greatest power in the world — to do their bidding by killing Christ. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, speaks to the Jews about Jesus in the book of John: “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your own law.” But the Jews punt the decision back to Pilate: “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” And so, Pilate does the deed on their behalf. In the book of Matthew, the implications of this manipulation are spelled out: “His blood is on us and our children,” the Jews say — a line that has been so historically destructive that even Mel Gibson cut it from his Passion of the Christ.”

That is why the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), adopted a working definition of antisemitism which includes the following two clauses:

  1. Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  2. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

It should therefore come as no surprise that IfNotNow, a self-proclaimed Jewish-American “progressive” organization, violated both of these clauses on the eve of Passover.

In a tweet, IfNotNow proposed the following question to its nearly 60,000 followers in the context of condemning the alleged uprooting of olive trees by Jewish settlers:

“On the eve of Pesach, our US Jewish community must ask itself a crucial question: Will we harden our hearts to the daily suffering of those under Occupation, or will we stand in solidarity with the dispossessed Palestinians, like Moses did with the Hebrew slaves?”

Despite IfNotNow’s unfounded assumption that the alleged incident is a direct result of Israel’s military presence in the disputed territories, let’s take a minute to dissect this rather sickening post.

First, IfNotNow is explicitly insinuating that the American Jewish community holds the key to ending Palestinian suffering.

Despite the fact that Israel’s presence in the West Bank has — as is empirically proven — increased the standard of living for the majority of Palestinians, one should certainly appreciate the difficulties that many Palestinians experience under the status quo. Checkpoints have made commutes more difficult and limited budgets have significantly reduced the amount of welfare projects that the Palestinian Authority has been able to undertake.

But appreciating these difficulties does not mean that we ignore their historical context.

Checkpoints were established by Israel following the Palestinian leadership’s sponsoring of the Second Intifada (2000-2005), which saw endless terror attacks on civilians — and left over 1,000 Israelis dead.

The Palestinian Authority in 2017 spent nearly 50% of its foreign aid on its “pay-for-slay” policy, which pays salaries to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists as well as their families. In fact, in 2019, the Palestinian Authority spent approximately $14,000,000 on payments to jailed terrorists and the families of those killed.

Based on figures from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that figure could buy 387,143 coronavirus test kits, or 465 low-cost MIT ventilators. Not only that, the Palestinian Authority has opted to pay the salaries of terrorists before those of teachers and social welfare recipients. It’s easy to see why the Palestinian Authority lacks the funds to work on social welfare programs for their own people.

IfNotNow’s assertion that American Jews hold the cards to end Palestinian suffering is in direct violation of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism because it disregards the leading role that the Palestinian Authority has had in shaping the difficulties that Palestinians are subjected to on a day-to-day basis.

“The Palestinian Authority in 2017 spent nearly 50% of its foreign aid on its ‘pay-for-slay’ policy, which pays salaries to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists as well as their families.”

Secondly, IfNotNow’s assertion that American Jews are responsible for the security measures adopted by the State of Israel is yet another violation of the IHRA working definition on antisemitism.

Whether you agree or disagree with Israel’s security apparatus in the West Bank, it is fundamentally unethical to hold Jews in America accountable for a foreign government’s security considerations. It’s even more unethical when considering that American Jews will not have to experience the potential waves of Palestinian terrorism that could follow if Israel were to dismantle its security establishment in the disputed territories.

IfNotNow’s rhetoric, if left ignored, will undoubtedly contribute to the rise of antisemitism in America. Equally important, it will perpetuate Palestinian suffering by refusing to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for their decades-long violation of human rights against their own people.

Originally published in The Algemeiner.

Contributed by CAMERA’s campus advisor and strategic planner Yoni Michanie.

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