Interview with Eliana Fishman of IfNotNow:

“When young American Jews see the protests in Gaza, we see ourselves”

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution/ recently interviewed Eliana Fishman, a member of IfNotNow, which describes itself as “a movement led by young Jews to transform the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.” The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


Revcom: Eliana, tell us about the recent IfNotNow protests. What were the highlights? Why were people willing to be arrested for this cause?

Eliana Fishman: The killing of 31 Palestinian protesters and injuring of over 1,000 more with live fire is, simply put, unconscionable. The Palestinian protests are part of an effort to end the Occupation, after 51 years of brutal control, and yet our community has been silent or supported these actions. How many more deaths will it take before they speak out against the occupation? We refuse to wait. If the American Jewish community refuses to act, we will act now to be the leaders our community needs. We had actions with 37 activists getting arrested in DC, Boston, the Twin Cities, NYC, San Francisco and LA.

When young American Jews see the protests in Gaza, we see ourselves. So many of us participated in the Women’s March, or have been part of actions for Dreamers or Black Lives Matter. Why are activists in Gaza getting shot at for doing the same things that we've done?

Revcom: What has been the response to your actions?

Eliana Fishman: One hour after our action in San Francisco, Sen. Feinstein tweeted a statement saying, “This violence is exceptionally destructive for both the Palestinians and the state of Israel. It must end. Violence is not the pathway to reconciliation.”

We have gotten coverage in Haaretz and several local newspapers. We have not gotten any response from the American Jewish establishment.

Revcom: What motivated you to join IfNotNow?

Eliana Fishman: I am a proud and active Jew—I attended 13 years of Orthodox Jewish day school, 10 summers at Conservative* summer camp. I am religiously observant, and a member of a synagogue. Israel’s Occupation is destroying my American Jewish community. The Occupation is not only a daily nightmare for Palestinians, but it is also a moral catastrophe for both Israeli Jews and American Jews. I don’t want to be part of a community that thinks upholding Occupation is an acceptable thing to do.

Revcom: Your group calls for people to fight oppression wherever it’s found. What are your thoughts on ending all forms of oppression?

Eliana Fishman: IfNotNow supports freedom and dignity for all.

Revcom: What impact do you feel the group’s moral stance and challenge have had on individuals and broadly?

Eliana Fishman: So many IfNotNow members got involved because this was the first place where they could be proudly Jewish, without selling out any of their other values.

Revcom: What is your thinking about Trump and the danger he and his government present?

Eliana Fishman: IfNotNow sees Donald Trump and [Israeli prime minister] Bibi Netanyahu as two sides of the same coin. Despite the Trump administration’s horrific immigration policies, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism etc., the American Jewish community has sucked up to Trump because he supports Israel’s Occupation. We will not stand by while our community sells us out in an attempt to uphold Occupation.

*Conservative Judaism is a form or branch of Judaism.



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