Barak Hullman
Storyteller, Author and Podcaster. Every Question Deserves an Answer.

What Is “If Not Now” Protesting?

Sitting in Jerusalem I watched in amazement at the anti-Israel protests at AIPAC led by American-Jews.

What exactly are you protesting?

The group calls themselves “If Not Now.” It’s a quote from Rabbi Hillel HaZaken, one of the greatest rabbis that ever lived. The quote is in Pirkei Avot 1:14: “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Verse 13 in the same chapter is also a quote from Hillel HaZaken, “He who does not increase [his knowledge of Torah] decreases it; he who does not study [Torah] deserves death; and he who exploits the crown [of Torah for his own ends] shall perish.”

Selective quoting?

Israel already removed all of the Jews in Gaza. The missiles the Palestinian Arabs shoot towards us are not singing “we will build this world with love.”

Israel already gave the Palestinians autonomy, weapons, money and support. What was Yasser Arafat’s answer? Intifada: thousands of Jews and Arabs killed and injured.

Were Israel to give the Palestinians the entire West Bank, we would have Gaza 2.0 but in a much more strategic location. Many more Jews and Arabs would die.

The Palestinians don’t want a state. They’ve been offered (not that they earned it or deserve it, but offered in exchange for “peace”) a state three times in the past seventeen years alone. It was everything they asked for: Gaza, all of the West Bank with minor land swaps and East Jerusalem as their capital.

They rejected this offer three times! If they really wanted a state they could have had one already. They don’t want a state. They want to replace the state of Israel with the state of Palestine. I don’t know what else could make it clearer.

It is incredibly ironic that you chose the quote from Hillel HaZaken as the name of your protest group. The great rabbi was talking directly to you.

If you are only for yourselves, what are you?

You support ending Jewish rule over Judea and Samaria knowing full well that it will lead to another war; more death and bloodshed. You protest against an American lobby that supports a strong Israel that protects Jews.

You are for yourselves, not for the Jewish people and certainly not for humankind.

Be a Jew. Stand up for Israel. Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel. Jews have the full political, historical and God-given right to be in the whole Land of Israel.

If not now, then when?



About the Author
Barak Hullman studied for a PhD in Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MA at Princeton). He made aliyah from South Florida in 1995. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and their 7 children (all born in Jerusalem). Barak is the author of two books, Figure It Out When You Get There: A Memoir of Stories About Living Life First and Watching How Everything Else Falls Into Place and A Shtikel Sholom: A Student, His Mentor and Their Unconventional Conversations, available at He has two podcasts, Jewish People & Ideas: Conversations with Jewish Thought Leaders (guests have included Yossi Klein Halevi, Michael Oren, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Gordis and others) at and The Chassidic Story Project at   Learn more by going to
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