January 21, 2019

Club Z Challenges IfNotNow to Debate on Israel

Screenshot from Facebook.

Club Z has challenged the progressive activist group IfNotNow group to a debate on Israel and the what Club Z says are the “publicity stunts” that IfNotNow uses to advance their agenda.

Club Z Teen Board member Ron Belman and alumni Sam Wolf and Daniel Rutenburg wrote in a letter posted to Twitter on Wednesday that the two organizations have differing viewpoints on what it means to be “pro-Israel.”

“Your organization staged a series of public media stunts to demonize Israel but is conspicuously silent about the country’s right to exist,” the letter states, highlighting IfNotNow’s Birthright walkouts because it “whitewashes the occupation.”

“We are puzzled by these words because know Birthright to be an entirely different experience,” the letter continues. “Those of us who have had the privilege of traveling to Israel with Birthright saw the Jewish state up close – in all of its beauty, complexities, and challenges.”

Belman, Wolf and Rutenberg offered IfNotNow the opportunity to debate them during Club Z’s Youth Zionist Leadership Forum, which takes place in San Francisco on Jan. 18-21.

“We’ll articulate the merits of Birthright and supporting the State of Israel, and you can share your opinion as well,” the trio wrote.

Belman told the Journal in a phone interview that “this is actually the first time that they’ve [IfNotNow] has been challenged in such a way” and he was particularly bothered by IfNotNow’s Birthright walkouts.

“They could have just not gone and not wasted other people’s time,” Belman said, adding the walkouts were than a “publicity stunt to make Israel look evil.”

“If they really do want to have this debate and actually show their side to other Jewish teens that will be at the forum, then they have their right to accept this open invitation,” Belman said.

IfNotNow has not responded to Club Z’s invitation as of publication time. IfNotNow also did not respond to the Journal’s multiple requests for comment as of publication time.