A Gap in Intersectionality at the Women’s March

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I went to the Boston Women’s March.

I went to the Boston Women’s March on a gorgeous, sun-drenched day that smelled of Spring. Hundreds of thousands of women and men poured to the Boston Common from every corner of Massachusetts. An energy, a strong, revolutionary energy, electrified the city.

I went to the Boston Women’s March, and in the midst of so much feminine vivacity, emitting from such miraculous, strong, resistant women, I felt uncomfortable.

In the midst of women who were angry, women who were heartbroken, women who were afraid, women who were restless, I felt uncomfortable.

In a space aimed at combating and confronting oppression, I felt uncomfortable.

I felt uncomfortable not because of my identity as a woman, but because of my identity as a Jew.

A Zionist Jew.

A Zionist.

I will say it again, and again, because from this identity blossoms a spirit of resistance, resistance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. From this identity comes a love for freedom and equality in their purest forms.

I went to the Women’s March, with the underlying knowledge that one of its main organizers is an advocate for the antithesis of what the March was intended to represent, and in the hopes of burying my reservations for the sake of solidarity.

Linda Sarsour, one of the primary organizers of the Women’s March, identifies as a Palestinian-American activist. Although she adamantly claims to stand in alliance with all oppressed people, she is a participant in the erasure of Jewish history and a contributor to the colonization of the Jewish identity. She does this by promoting a one-state solution in which the ancient, historic connection of the Jews to the land of Israel would be obliterated. She additionally refers to the three-thousand year Hebrew presence in the land of Israel as an “occupation” by “Jewish colonizers.” Sarsour is also a strong proponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a Hamas-funded effort intended to ostracize Jewish and Israeli businesses, artists, musicians, and scholars, simply for being Jewish and Israeli. This is nothing but a socially-acceptable form of virulent anti-Semitism, a toxic hatred for an entire people.

As I tried to put this knowledge aside in order to stand in unification with my fellow females, I found myself surrounded by posters and banners sprinkled with images of Sarsour’s face; an unavoidable reminder that I, as a Zionist-Jewish woman, would only be welcome in this space to the extent that I hide who I really am. And who I am is someone who works to advocate, amongst a deluge of lies and slander from the media, from my peers, from my professors, for the truth about the sole multicultural democracy in the Middle East, a David in a sea of Goliath’s.  I recognize my people’s ancient ties to the tiny land of Israel, and I draw pride from the fact that the Jewish people have re-established a home which is now a thriving, liberal democracy. I stood amongst a hundred thousand women and men campaigning against oppression from their own individual vantage points, and yet, I found myself too fearful to pull out my Israeli flag, my own symbol of liberation from oppression.  And I found myself with a gut feeling that, if the part of myself that sings “Am Yisrael Chai”, the part of myself ingrained with the Shema prayer, were to come to the surface to march alongside the part of myself that is fiercely feminine, this March of inclusivity would render me wholly excluded.

At the intersection of my identity as a woman and my identity as a Zionist Jew, there is no conflict. There is no conflict because these facets of myself support one another and embrace one another. Who I am as a woman and who I am as a Jew cannot and should not be divided.

About the Author
Lilia Gaufberg is a 24-year-old elementary school teacher. She grew up in Boston, USA, but recently made Aliyah to Israel after spending a year teaching English in Petach Tikvah. She will be drafting into the Israeli Defense Forces as a lone soldier in December of 2018. In addition to writing, Lilia enjoys making art. You can check out her art page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ArtbyLiliaRebecca/
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