IfNotNow is a relatively new Jewish organization that opposes the policies of the Israeli government, voices pro-Palestinian positions, and criticizes the Jewish establishment in North America for its “silence” over Israel’s “crimes” against the Palestinian people.
Here is IfNotNow’s official statement:1
IfNotNow is a movement working to transform the North American Jewish community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.
North American Jews need to decide: Will we allow the out-of-touch establishment to continue leading us down a path of isolation and fear that is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Palestinians and alienating a generation of young Jews? Or will we unite to fight the occupation, build vibrant and inclusive community spaces for our generation, and forge relationships with other communities standing up for justice?
IfNotNow is bringing this crisis of conscience into full public view for our community. Through public action and imaginative ritual, we are demanding that our community take action in the struggle for mutual liberation.
Our strategy is inspired by a long legacy of social movements across North America — from the Labor Movement to the Civil Rights Movement to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter — that have used non-violent action to create urgency around moral crises and catalyze massive changes in public discourse and consciousness.
We know that those of us who believe in freedom and dignity for all are the membership, youth, volunteers, and workforce upon which our communal institutions depend. We are the generation that feels increasingly betrayed by a community that doesn’t reflect our values, and the generation that the out-of-touch establishment is desperately trying to engage.
IfNotNow is the expression of our collective power and the cultural shift necessary to build a flourishing, joyous Jewish community that actively supports the liberation of all people.
IfNotNow Toronto recently organized a ceremony in commemoration of Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the Great Return March, a weekly violent riot along the northern and eastern borders of the Gaza Strip with Israel.
Here is IfNotNow Toronto’s statement on the event:2
“April 9th 2018, over 100 people joined us, as we stood outside the Israeli consulate, in rage and sorrow to mourn the 31 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces these past two weeks. We sang. We shouted. We demand our Jewish institutions take a stand against the occupation. We ask: Why do we usually condemn violence, but are silent about violence done in our name?”
Activists with IfNotNow Toronto held signs that read:3
Why is Palestinian freedom different from our freedom?
Why do we usually condemn violence, but are silent about violence done in our name?
Why are we told to ask questions, but not about the occupation?
What will it take for our community to stand for freedom and dignity for all people?
Here are excerpts from the speeches held at the event:4
Speaker A (male):
We are gathering in ritual and solidarity with those protesting non-violently in Gaza… We are IfNotNow Toronto. IfNotNow is a movement of North American Jews dedicated to ending our community’s support of the occupation. In our time, so many of our Jewish institutions remained silent, or excused, or even condoned violence against peaceful protesters, including children. We say enough.”
Speaker B (female):
We gather here today as young Jews in sorrow and rage to mourn the death of 31 Palestinian protesters in Gaza and the thousands of non-violent protesters who were injured by the IDF. This non-violent protest, the Great Return March, began on Land Day and will continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba [“the catastrophe” – the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948]… In the Jewish tradition, we say the mourning prayer of Kaddish to help us confront the holiness of loss and honor those who are no longer with us. The Kaddish is an ancient Aramaic prayer… When we say the Kaddish we will think about the 31 Gazans slain, the 1,700 plus who have been injured in the past two weeks… We now ask… to come up here and read the names of those killed by the IDF in the past two weeks.”
Speaker C (male) read the names of the 31 Palestinians (another four Palestinians died later on from their wounds) killed by the IDF during the Great Return March since March 30, 2018.
IfNotNow Toronto’s activists mourned and said Kaddish (the Jewish mourning prayer) in memory of 35 Palestinians, of whom 14 (40 percent) “participated in hostilities,” according to the left-wing, anti-Israeli Btselem human rights organization.
Yet, in fact, 32 of the 35 Palestinian casualties listed (91.4%) were individuals or operatives affiliated with Palestinian armed groups and/or wished to be killed on the path of Allah:
- 18 operatives/affiliated with Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades.
- 8 operatives/affiliated with Fatah/al-Aqsa Brigades.
- Two operatives of the National Resistance Brigades, military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)
- One operative of the Islamic Jihad/Al-Quds Brigades
- One operative of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
- Two individuals with no affiliation who wanted to die/be killed on the path of Allah in the Great Return March.
The following chart documents the 35 Palestinians and their militant affiliation:
|Palestinians Killed in the Great Return March (March 30 – April 6, 2018)|
|No||Name||Age||Date of Death||Death Circumstances||Affiliation|
|1||Hamzah ’Eid Ramadan ’Abd al-’Aal||22||Injured on Apr 6, 2018, died on Apr 7, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”5 According to his mother, a few days before his death he said to her: “God Willing I will become a martyr in the path of Allah and water the land of Palestine with my blood.”6||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades7, 8|
|2||’Alaa a-Din Yihya Isma’il a-Zamli||15||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”9 A-Zamli’s father said his son used to join the protesters in the frontlines of the confrontation.10||Hamas. Activist of the Islamic Bloc, the student movement of Hamas.11 During the funeral his body was covered with Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades flag.12, 13|
|3||Sedqi Taleb Muhammad Abu ’Ateiwi||44||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”14||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades15, 16|
|4||Ibrahim Ziad Salameh al-’Ur||20||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”17||Fatah18|
|5||Muhammad Sa’id Musa al-Haj Saleh||32||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”19|
|6||Hussein Muhammad ’Adnan Madi||13||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”20||Hamas. Activist of the Islamic Bloc, the student movement of Hamas.21 Hamas poster features his picture.22|
|7||Yasser ’Abd a-Rahman Mustafa Murtaja||30||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”23||Hamas. “Unnamed Israeli security officials told Walla! that Murtaja was a Hamas activist and active in the Hamas “security apparatus’s work on a daily basis” to help the terrorist organization with intelligence gathering. Prime Minister’s Office spokesmen Ofir Gendelman and David Keyes both tweeted that Murtaja was not only on the Hamas payroll since 2011, but he held the rank of captain and had a “prior association with the military wing [the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades].”24|
|8||Ousamah Khamis Muslem Qdeih||38||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”25||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades26, 27|
|9||Majdi Ramadan Musa Shabat||37||Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”28||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades.29 Operative of Hamas-controlled security forces.30, 31|
|10||Mujahed Nabil Marwan al-Khudari||22||Apr 5, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”32||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades33, 34|
|11||Ahmad ’Omar Muhammad ’Arafah||25||Apr 5, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”35||Member of the military wing of the Democratic Front36, 37|
|12||Tahrir Mahmoud Sa’id Wahbah||18||Injured on Apr 1, 2018, died on Apr 23, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”38 Tahrir’s mother: “Tahrir wished to be killed in the path of Allah and he fulfilled it… We are marching on the path of the martyrdom in the path of Allah. Allah willing, we all will be martyrs in the path of Allah for the sake of [the city of] al-Quds and a sacrifice for the homeland… We will take it [the land] from them [Israelis/Jews] and we will liberate it [the land] forcibly… The seven [children] that I have, I and also their father, all of us are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of [the city of] al-Quds and the homeland for the sake of liberating al-Quds. We give birth to them [the children] only for the purpose of serving as ammunition for the homeland. If the homeland needs them, it will use them [as martyrs in path of Allah]. We are ammunition for the homeland. For what? For liberating [the city of] al-Quds, for the liberation of al-Aqsa [mosque]. We bring forward [human] sacrifice from the adults, youths, elders, women, from all of them as a sacrifice for the homeland. Praise be to Allah, he wished to be killed in the path of Allah and gained it. Praise be to Allah. He wished for martyrdom in the path of Allah, and he didn’t wish to be injured. Praise be to Allah, he gained the martyrdom in the path of Allah… Praise be to Allah, he gained the martyrdom in the path of Allah. We don’t ask more than that. [Reading a note written by Tahrir]: “This is the will of Tahrir Wahbah, cell number, I want to die/ be killed in the path of Allah, not be injured..”. Praise be to Allah, the Lord fulfilled his wish. We all are wishing to become martyrs in the path of Allah as a sacrifice for the homeland.”39|
|13||’Abd al-Fatah Bahajat ’Abd al-Fatah ’Abd a-Nabi||18||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”40 ’Abd al-Fatah’s father told the Hamas website that his son “used to participate in all events in the [battle]field and confrontations.” According to the Hamas website, “Abd al-Fatah tried to light car tires in order to create a smokescreen in an attempt to block the IDF snipers’ sight. He was shot when he took a car tire from his friend, who was targeted by the IDF.”41|
|14||Ahmad Ibrahim ’Ashur ’Odeh||18||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”42||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades43, 44|
|15||Muhammad Kamal Muhammad a-Najar||25||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”45||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades46, 47|
|16||Muhammad Muhareb Muhammad a-Rabiya’h||21||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”48||Fatah/al-Aqsa Brigades49|
|17||Fares Mahmoud Muhammad a-Raqab||25||Injured on Mar 30, 2018, died on Apr 2, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”50||Islamic Jihad/Al-Quds Brigades51|
|18||Bader Fayeq Ibrahim a-Sabagh||20||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”52||Hamas/Al-Qassam Brigades53, 54|
|19||Mus’ab Zuheir Anis a-Salul||22||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”55||Fatah/Al-Aqsa Brigades56, 57|
|20||Hamdan Isma’il Saber Abu ’Amshah||24||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”58||Fatah/Al-Aqsa Brigades59, 60|
|21||Sari Walid Muhammad Abu ’Odeh||24||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”61||Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades62, 63|
|22||Naji ’Abdallah Shehdeh Abu Hjeir||24||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”64 Keynote speaker at his funeral: “…We say to this noble family [Naji’s family], this noble family has already had martyrs and they have in their records noble pages. They have already had leaders, fighters for the sake of Palestine… This is Naji, who answered the call of al-Aqsa [mosque], answered the call of the stolen land in order to say to the entire world that we will not negotiate over Beersheba. We will not forget Beersheba. We will not sell Haifa or Jaffa. We will not forget Safed or Acre. We will return to this land and we will continue to adhere to our right in spite of the Jews… the way of Jihad and fighting is our way and our strategy…”65||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades66, 67, 68|
|23||Jihad Zuheir Salman Abu Jamus||29||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”69 Jihad’s wife: “He gained the martyrdom in the path of Allah. He always wished to gain it. Praise be to Allah… I’m proud [of him].”70||Operative of Fatah movement71, 72, 73|
|24||Amin Mahmoud Hamad Abu Mu’amar||25||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”74 Amin’s sister: “Before he went to the Return camp, he sat among us and said: ‘I want to go to the camp to participate in the activities of the Great Return March. I want to become a sacrifice for the homeland. What Allah has determined will happen.’”75||The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)76|
|25||Muhammad Na’im Muhammad Abu O’mar||26||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”77||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades78, 79|
|26||’Omar Wahid Nasrallah Abu Samur||26||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”80||Operative of Fatah movement81, 82, 83|
|27||Ibrahim Salah Ibrahim Abu Sh’ar||17||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”84 Abu Sh’ar’s mother: “He ate the food quickly… and then said to me, ‘Mamma, I’m going to die in the path of Allah.’”85, 86|
|28||Ahmad Jihad Ahmad al-’Aidy||17||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities, member of the military wing of Hamas.”87||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades88|
|29||’Abd al-Qader Mardi Suliman al-Hawajri||41||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”89||Member of the National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).90, 91|
|30||Shadi Hamdan ’Ali al-Kashef||33||Injured on Mar 30, 2018, died on Apr 5, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”92|
|31||Jihad Ahmad Muhammad Fareinah||34||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”93||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades94, 95|
|32||Marwan ’Awwad Hamad Qdeih||44||Injured on Mar 30, 2018, died on Apr 9, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”96||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades97, 98|
|33||Thaer Muhammad ’Abd a-Ra’uf Rab’ah||30||Injured on Mar 30, 2018, died on Apr 6, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”99||Fatah/ Al-Aqsa Brigades100, 101, 102|
|34||Mahmoud Sa’di Yunes Rahmi||34||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Participated in hostilities.”103||Hamas/ Al-Qassam Brigades104, 105|
|35||Muhammad ’Ata ’Abd al-Mawla Abu Jame’||58||Mar 30, 2018||Btselem: “Did not participate in hostilities.”106||Fatah107|
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