Inter-What? The New Anti-Semitism You’ve Never Heard Of

Intersectionality, a word which could have been coined by Lewis Carroll, divides people into victims and oppressors. “…[It] holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society—such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other [they] interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the ‘intersection’ of multiple forms of discrimination.”

Huh? Okay, what intersectionality is saying is that being a woman and a member of a racial minority, for example, creates an “intersection” of two groups that can be oppressed in a different manner than men who are minorities.

Why should you care about this cockamamie “theory?”

Take another look at the list above. Do you notice something missing? Anti-Semitism, the world’s oldest form of ethnic hatred, is notably absent from the roster of righteous “isms” considered worthy of defense by intersectionalist thinkers. Instead of using intersectionality to join forces, to build coalitions of oppressed or marginalized groups, progressive movements, particularly the Women’s March, have been using it to exclude Jews. Some leaders of the March have made it clear that “Jewish women do not deserve to be included in intersectional feminist theory.”

So, this isn’t simply a theoretical issue. Anti-Semitism has contaminated the Women’s March from the beginning despite assurances given by its leaders to Jewish women’s groups like the National Council of Jewish Women.
Women’s March leaders, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, have attended events with notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan who has referred to Jews as “termites.” Some have demonstrated an emphatic rejection of Zionists (supporters of Israel’s right to exist). Linda Sarsour, for example, insists “feminism and Zionism are incompatible” and refers to “Palestine…[as]the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” That might be a surprise to Palestinian women living in a world in which adulteresses are stoned, homosexuals are beheaded, and honor killings and child marriages occur.

For those who wonder whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, the Chicago Dyke March doesn’t share your confusion. It expelled several Jewish lesbians for carrying Jewish pride flags emblazoned with a Star of David, stating the march was “pro-Palestinian” and “anti-Zionist.” There was no way of knowing if the women carrying the banners were Zionists but the Star of David identified them clearly as Jews.

Fortunately, there are other leaders speaking out. One of them, Theresa Shook, is a founder of the Women’s March who recently posted on Facebook: “In opposition to our Unity Principles, they [Women’s March leaders like Mallory and Sarsour] have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.” The New York Times reports that disaffected members of the original March group, like Vanessa Wrouble, have split off to create their own March in New York. (An investigation by the Daily Beast appears to concur with the former leader of the Washington DC March, Mercy Morganfield, that national March leaders have used the movement “to line their own pockets.”)

A new movement, Zioness, can provide a solution for many people who have suffered exclusion related to anti-Semitism. One of its founders, Amanda Berman, describes Zioness as “… bring[ing] them back into the progressive movement, [to] reclaim progressivism and to stand at the forefront of social justice movement as Jews and Zionists always have in this country…” She adds, “We are responding to the hate and vitriol against people like us and the false narrative or false choice that you have to be either a progressive or a Zionist…that we have to check our Zionism at the door because nobody else [in progressive movements] is asked to do that.”

You can learn more about Zioness by going on the Hadassah website, and typing “Zioness” into the search bar or going to the Zioness Facebook page. Check to see where Zioness is marching on January 19, 2019.
[References upon request]

About the Author
Dr. Judith Davis is a wife, mother, grandmother and a retired clinical and organizational psychologist, graduate of Hadassah Leadership Academy. Having spent a lifetime studying individuals, groups and other human systems, she is an irreverent observer of details that may be unremarkable to others.