WOMEN’S MARCH organizers Carmen Perez, Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour take the stage during a protest called March for Racial Justice in New York City. (Reuters).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts,” said political philosopher John Locke. Indeed, if the recent actions of the Women’s March co-chairs are a testament to their thoughts, we’ve got a major antisemitism problem in the women’s rights movement.
Women’s March co-chairs Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory have all repeatedly excused, ignored and defended antisemites, and minimized or ignored antisemitism altogether. Why is the cause of feminism being hijacked by extremists who refuse to recognize the world’s oldest hatred – a hatred that is on the rise today from the far Right and the far Left?
In the days leading up to International Women’s Day this week, a controversy erupted over Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory. Mallory has faced criticism before for her sinister associations with the well-documented antisemite Louis Farrakhan, but the connection made headlines again in recent days due to her attendance at Farrakhan’s speech, in which he made blatantly antisemitic comments calling the Jews his “worst enemy” among other highly inflammatory comments.
During Farrakhan’s speech, riddled with antisemitic comments, he also gave a personal shout-out to Mallory herself. Following the event, Mallory praised Farrakhan on social media – something she has done before. After rising criticism from those both inside her own movement as well as outside, Mallory doubled down, tweeting almost nonsensical responses including antisemitic stereotypes alluding to Jews being the “enemies” of Jesus (who for the record was a Jew).
“If your leader does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader! Study the Bible and u will find the similarities. Ostracizing, ridicule and rejection is a painful part of the process... ” she wrote.
Now you’d think that a group of feminist social justice warriors would have no trouble condemning the world’s oldest form of bigotry. Not so. Mallory not only refused to condemn Farrakhan’s blatantly antisemitic remarks – but her Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour, infamous for her own extreme comments, actually defended Mallory for not condemning antisemitism. Likewise, Carmen Perez, another Women’s March co-chair, doubled down and defended Mallory. Perez also stated previously on Farrakhan that there are “no perfect leaders,” and lavished him with praise on social media.
Just for clarification, we’re talking about a man who called Hitler “a very great man,” and blames the Jews for 9/11. A man who stated that “the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men,” a statement that is not only antisemitic, but anti- LGBT.
The actions of the Women’s March co-chairs are hardly surprising given their refusal to include antisemitism among the long list of social justice causes they associated with feminism from the start.
The Women’s March previously sparked controversy when they included seemingly every persecuted group on earth in their intersectional movement for equality except the Jews. Not only did they exclude Jewish issues from the initial platform of the Women’s March, they took it one step further, politicizing feminism by stating in their platform for the follow- up #DayWithoutAWoman strike, “...[and] Justice for Palestine are for us the beating heart of this new feminist movement.”
No other conflict was mentioned, no other country was mentioned. No “Justice for Syrians,” no “Justice for Rwandans,” certainly no justice for the Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism.
In fact, in that same event, Sarsour marched with a convicted Palestinian terrorist, Rasmea Odeh, who is responsible for the murder of two young Jewish college students. Odeh was recently deported to Jordan after being convicted of fraud for lying on her US immigration papers about being convicted of terrorist acts. Yet this was the woman that Sarsour championed as a model for women’s rights.
Even with the rise of antisemitism in events like Charlottesville, where there were actual neo-Nazis involved, the leaders of the Women’s March have been largely silent in condemnation of yet vocal in minimizing antisemitism.
Despite the fact that antisemitism accounts for more than half of all religious hate crimes in America according to the FBI, Sarsour stated that antisemitism is “different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” A statement that would be laughably absurd if it wasn’t so disturbing.
If there is one thing we can conclude from the Women’s March co-chairs’ track record, it’s that these women are indisputably excusing antisemitism and excluding Jewish women (not to mention Jewish women of color) from the intersectional struggle for justice. As a feminist Israeli Jewish woman myself, I will not stand for it.
This Women’s Day, I will not be marching alongside those who enable hate or those who empower antisemitism. I write this article instead, to speak out for all women, because every woman deserves equality – not just the ones with whom Perez, Sarsour and Mallory agree.The author is the digital director of StandWithUs.