“From someone whose 26 years old, it’s not something I’ve seen so publicly in the US so the fact that the Jewish community is not willing to stand up against this very vocal manifestation of antisemitism is really appalling.” – Oriel Eisner, with the Colorado Chapter of If Not Now.
Earlier this month, members of different Jewish organizations gathered in Denver as part of a National Day of Jewish resistance If Not Now. The action followed the release of a joint statement by Jewish Colorado and the Jewish Community Relations council that they would not be making comments on President elect Trump’s cabinet appointments which include white supremacist and anti-Semitic publisher of Breitbart news, Steve Bannon.
Oriel Eisner, with the Colorado Chapter of If Not Now, told KGNU’s Maeve Conran that all organizations are responsible for taking action against the controversial cabinet appointments, people found to hold xenophobic, homophobic, racist, anti-immigration, Islamophobic and misogynist ideologies in their respective fields. INN firmly denounced the organization’s proposed non-partisanship as a dangerous silence and is holding leadership in the Jewish community accountable, demanding that they match the actions already taken by others.
“To be fair, organizations have spoken out directly against Steve Bannon’s appointment, directly against the things that he’s said and the things that he’s been affiliated with… but still on a national level and locally we haven’t seen actions from the Jewish Federations of North America and also from APAC.”
If Not Now, is a non-violent volunteer movement that has established itself nationwide to speak out against critical policy issues, among them the American Jewish support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They are now taking on the silence of major Jewish organizations in the face of antisemitism following the 2016 election. The group says they fear that silence and lack of action by leaders today may result in repeated history tomorrow. While Denver has not been a battleground for manifestations such as those in Washington, DC, Eisner and the local chapter understand what they are up against.
“A lot of people grew up here who are older and grew up in a time where the KKK had a stronger presence here and they remember marches where there were neo-Nazi salutes and neo-Nazi chants and we’re certainly not there and we certainly hope that we won’t get there but I think that for some of these people who have been in Denver for thirty, forty, or fifty years it’s frightening and they’re worried they’re going to see a return to some of what history has brought to these areas.”
Eisner says that If Not Now’s non-violent vocal actions show the Jewish community’s opposition to the president-elect’s cabinet appointments, but that more robust efforts from Jewish leadership on local and national levels are still needed.
“I think that the money is on the side of non-partisanship and we are trying to show that the people and the voices are on the side of making statements.”