What a difference a week makes! Not only in my personal life (I just got married over the weekend and am about to leave for my honeymoon in a few hours – and yes, I am taking the time to blog anyway!), but in the world around us as well. In my blog last week, Ice cream as a point of contention, I wrote that we should not boycott Ben & Jerry’s, but try to educate and that instead of boycotting the Women’s March, we should push the other organizers to remove Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory from their board. I posited that unlike Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March’s platform does not take an anti-Israel position; I also noted that each cause, if not tainted by the anti-Semitic aspect, would otherwise be ones that Jews would typically support and it adds to the divisiveness to position ourselves as opposing good causes.
But what a difference a week makes!
In the past week, Alyssa Milano pointed out that which Israel supporters have long known — that intersectionality for everyone except those who support Israel is wrong. She has called on Sarsour and Mallory to disavow Louise Farrakhan, and in the absence of that, will not speak at the next Women’s March. (This great story from The Advocate intimates that she won’t speak as long as the two are still running the Women’s March, but it is not clear that that is the case).
“Any time that there is bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed. I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately.”
It is a major step forward. It acknowledges the hypocrisy in the movement; Farrakhan spews anti-Semitic, homophobic and transphobic hate and two of their leaders vocally stand with him. Alyssa Milano is a respected activist, and with her, the ball started rolling, ever so slowly. A hashtag, #wontmarchwithhate, began, but it is no #metoo. I wish it would pick up more steam, because it speaks to the larger concept that discrimination against some is allowed and that intolerance should not be tolerated. Still, the New York Post’s editorial board came out in support of her decision in this op-ed. And Debra Messing has also come out in support as well, though a quick online search shows coverage in the Jewish press and the far right press without needed mainstream notice.
This past Thursday, Germany’s Friedrick Ebert Foundation, which was set to present the Women’s March with a Human Right’s Award on November 12, rescinded the award because of its leaders embrace of Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement. “We believe that the Women’s March USA does not meet the criteria of this award, as its organizers have repeatedly attracted attention through antisemitic statements, the trivialization of antisemitism and the exclusion of Zionists and Jews since Women’s March USA’s establishment in 2017. Women’s March USA does not constitute an inclusive alliance,” they wrote. “An organization that may support feminism, but discriminates against Jews and Zionists and denies Israel’s right to exist should not be honored by a democratic foundation that advocates diversity and speaks out against discrimination.”
This is the bigger issue. Not the association with Farrakhan and his hatemongering, though that is emblematic. But that two of the Women’s March’s board members, the Black Lives Matter’s platform (see under under Invest-Divest), eight Jewish group which support Women’s March (per this piece by fellow TOI blogger Joe Duenas) and other far left Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace support a movement which wants to punish anything to do with the country until it meets its conditions. BDS’s kind of hostage holding is anathema to a two-sided negotiation between the parties. Let me repeat that: No organization can force the Israeli government to hand over its country. And for this movement to express itself worldwide by excluding, ostracizing and threatening Jews anywhere, especially but not only those who support Israel, is discriminatory. In delegitimizing Israel and its very existence, it promotes and encourages anti-Semitism.
That anti-Semitic acts are up as much as they are is because they come from both sides of the political spectrum.
As I wrote last week, one can oppose a government’s activities without condemning the country or its supporters. In denying Israel any voice or refusing to assign any responsibility to Palestinian leadership for the fact that Palestinians still don’t have a home of their own (let alone elections), those who support Farrakhan and BDS are practicing hate and intolerance.
You can’t have justice for some and not for all and proclaim yourself to be on the side of human rights.
I am thrilled that Alyssa Milano has started to get the ball rolling, but it needs to gain momentum. Those that support BDS and anti-Israel expression blindly need to be educated. They need to be engaged in these deep discussions that require thoughtful responses based on open minds.
As I also pointed out in my last blog, for those that want to stake a claim of being tolerant, to actually be so intolerant, not only prevents natural allies from being able to add their voice to the call for justice for women and blacks, but it adds far too much to the divisiveness in this country.
Self-introspection instead of self-righteousness would be in order here. How do we achieve that?
I #wontmarchwithhate. Will you?
Photo by Ladyheart, courtesy of morguefile.com