Dan Berger, historian, organizer, and author of Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity and The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism:
We know about the Jewish anarchists, communists, and socialists of the early 20th century. We know, too, that Jews were disproportionately involved in the civil rights and New Left movements of the mid-20th century. What about all the Jewish rabble rousers in the late 20th century? Justice, Justice is a fascinating hidden history of Jewish activism in Reagan’s America. Ezra Berkley Nepon gives us the inside scoop of New Jewish Agenda, both a clearinghouse for Jewish involvement in a range of progressive causes of the 1980s and a bulwark against the din of conservative voices in Jewish communities. Nepon’s careful, critical work is a gift to those who pursue justice in the 21st century.
Hassan El-Menyawi, PhD candidate, Sociology, New York University and Middle Eastern human rights activist:
Passionately expressed and compellingly written, Nepon has written a crucial activist text on Jewish social movements in the United States. Ezra Nepon’s writing not only revives the urgency for social movements seeking justice and inclusiveness, but also creatively diagnoses problems toward an eye of opening possibilities for activism in the 21st century. Nepon contemplates the possibilities of expanding the New Jewish Agenda by synthesizing multiple, intersectional human rights struggles in its overall outlook. Inviting feminist process and values, fighting racism, homophobia, transphobia, Nepon universalizes the New Jewish Agenda in a time when struggles gain legitimacy and momentum through collaboration and mutual engagement. It is imperative reading for anyone who wants to understand the history and current state of Jewish activism in the United States in an increasingly globalized world.
Having witnessed and participated in the Arab Spring’s movement for democracy, I find Nepon’s ideas especially relevant in imagining possibilities to connect Jews and Arabs to mutually fight anti-semitism and Islamophobia while advancing an agenda for peace and prosperity in the Middle East. Challenging peoples of all backgrounds, Nepon’s writing echoes the commitment of Hillel the Elder, who asked, “if not now, then when?” Nepon definitively answers Hillel’s clarion call, and does it with vision and inspiration on every page.
Stephanie Roth, Board Member of Jewish Voice for Peace, fundraising consultant and author:
This compelling story of one progressive American Jewish organization from the 1980s has important lessons for anyone interested in understanding how social change happens. Nepon documents the power of on-the-ground grassroots organizing to make social change, as well as the forces that led to the demise of an important social justice organization. Of particular interest to many activists today will be Nepon’s analysis of New Jewish Agenda’s commitment to address both domestic and Middle East peace and justice issues, in contrast to today’s reality of single-issue organizing, and more seriously, increased pressures by the mainstream Jewish community to silence any criticism of Israel.
Billy Wimsatt, author of Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons:
Ezra Nepon is a compelling, original writer who goes on a deeply personal detective quest to uncover the roots of modern progressive Jewish thought. Nepon is a radical historian in the tradition of Howard Zinn, and in Justice, Justice, Nepon opens the book on an important missing chapter in recent Jewish progressive history, with insightful reflections for change-makers of all backgrounds. A stirring, valuable book.
Simone Zelitch, author of Louisa, recipient of the Goldberg Prize from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture:
What impresses me most about Ezra’s work is the determination to not only record, but to analyze this history, and to draw lessons that will be useful to activists today.