IfNotNow Response to Peter Beinart’s Op-Ed “IfNotNow is the Jewish Black Lives Matter”

The specific way that Beinart compared IfNotNow to Black Lives Matter missed the mark and distracted from the larger, strategic point he was attempting to make.

On Tuesday, April 4th, The Forward published an article by Peter Beinart titled, “IfNotNow is the Jewish Black Lives Matter.” IfNotNow posted this for a short time on our national Facebook page and, after feedback from members and supporters, removed it.

IfNotNow is a movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation. This work is inextricably linked to building a Jewish community that is committed to solidarity between Jews of color, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, and White Jews, and drawing connections to fighting larger systems of anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, and Islamophobia.

Screenshot of the opinion piece in the Forward by Peter Beinart

The specific way that Beinart compared IfNotNow to Black Lives Matter missed the mark and distracted from the larger, strategic point he was attempting to make. Though we are humbled by being linked to one of the most important mass movements of our time, Beinart’s article title is inappropriate for a number of reasons. First, it dismisses the existence, experience, and resistance of Black Jews, many of whom are active as leaders both in the Jewish community and Black Lives Matter Movement. Second, this comparison fails to acknowledge the difference in privilege and power dynamics within our movements — IfNotNow is a mostly white-led movement and unlike Black Lives Matter, is not a movement of those most directly impacted by the problem it seeks to address.

Beinart’s writing is and has been a source of inspiration and insight for many of us. We write about the ways his piece missed the mark in the spirit of intellectual inquiry and public challenging of our community to do better. We recognize that Beinart drew the comparison in order to highlight the dynamics between established institutions and protest movements. We see ourselves as part of an entire generation that is rising up and organizing mass movements for real change — a generation that includes those fighting for Black Lives, immigrant rights, climate justice, and economic equality.

We are proud of what we are building. We are attempting, as American Jews, to use our unique position to fight for the liberation of all people and finding out continuously what our own liberation means in the process.

In a majority of our chapters, we have teams engaged in outreach and collaboration efforts to more concretely show up for other movements, both those working on the occupation and on domestic justice issues. We are actively working on ways to develop deeper relationships with Palestinians and Palestinian-led movements, and with Black-led movements.

And as we learn and grow, we are committed to making our movement more representative of and inclusive to the vast diversity of American Jews.

We see and honor the work of Palestinians and people of color taking life-threatening risks to transform systems of violence. Thank you. We are grateful to walk hand in hand with many movements in the fight for freedom and dignity for all people.

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