On Friday, local activists in Austin, Texas from the virulenty anti-Israel “Jewish” group IfNotNow decided that it would be appropriate to picket fellow Jews and physically block the entrance to a Chabad house. And they deliberately and ostentatiously did so on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
The Chabad Jewish Center at the Univeristy of Texas-Austin described the affair in a blog post:
A small group of students and young adults affiliated with “If Not Now” decided it was a good time to protest a guest speaker, who was going to speak at our center later in the day: A sweet and soft-spoken IDF soldier.
Shockingly, these protesters spoke to my young children and gave them flyers. They also videotaped and photographed us on Chabad property, something which is traditionally prohibited on Shabbat for religious reasons. All of this didn’t happen during any speech, but during Shabbat morning prayers.
I’m not against protests, even if I disagree with the cause. But on Shabbat — during prayer services — really? There’s a time and place for protests. It would have been nice to see them show some respect while claiming to advocate dialogue, because there is none without the other.
It reminded me of a fringe religious group, who were very active a few years ago, and would find the most inappropriate times to demonstrate. They didn’t make any friends, but cruelly garnered a lot of media attention. …
The saddest part to me is that the protest was organized by fellow Jews, who should have understood the value and sensitivities around Shabbat observance, prayer and community. They showed up in the middle of morning Shacharit/Mussaf prayers, and very insensitively took pictures and videos of my kids on Shabbat. They failed to show the most basic respect and sensitivity.
It was in certain ways a very sad day. I am hopeful that one day it will be good for all of mankind, both Jew and non-Jew, as we work together to repair the world via our holy Torah.
The planned speaker that IfNotNow disrupted was Leibel Mangel, a combat veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and a popular pro-Israel speaker. “Truly disheartening that Shabbat services and my talk @ the University of Texas were disrupted by Jewish protesters,” Mangel tweeted. “It just highlights the growing need and obligation to educate and speak truth!”
Melissa Weiss, National Campus Director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats anti-Semitism worldwide, tweeted: “It’s truly disgusting that @IfNotNowOrg, which calls itself a Jewish group, would hold a demonstration and disruption outside of Shabbat services when fellow Jews are at prayer. IfNotNow is absolutely not representative of American Jewry and has no place in our very big tent.”
As The Daily Wire covered, IfNotNow recently released a viral propaganda video that scurrilously blasted Israel and mendaciously sought to assign blame for the recent rise in European and American anti-Semitic incidents to fringe members of the broader political Right. In recent weeks, IfNotNow has also openly stood with freshman congresswomen Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), each of whom has become infamous in her own right for peddling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.