ON APRIL 19, three days before this year’s start of Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating the Israelites’ exodus from bondage in ancient Egypt, six protestors were arrested at the Boston office of AIPAC, “America’s pro-Israel lobby.” They had chained themselves to a mock Seder table. Their group, IfNotNow, claims to “seek an American Jewish community that stands for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians by ending its support for the occupation.” Fittingly, it was cofounded in 2014 by Simone Zimmerman, the former J Street campus activist hired as national Jewish outreach coordinator by the Bernie Sanders campaign on April 12 and—after a March 2015 Facebook post authored by her quickly surfaced—suspended two days later on April 14. “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole,” Zimmerman bellowed on the social media platform.
What transpired in Boston distressed the American Jewish community. Yet it didn’t come as a total surprise. The controversial nature of AIPAC is well known, and the unique ideological proclivities of younger American Jews are rapidly becoming better known. What went down the next day in Manhattan, nevertheless, did shock the community—or rather the vast majority of it.