Dear Bob, Carmen, Linda, and Tamika,
When Donald Trump was elected President, I felt broken; I was broken as a woman, broken as a parent, broken as a Jew. All of the values that I held (that I hold) dear were not only being outwardly challenged, but the safety of those values and of the communities that I support, or am a part of, were now in jeopardy.
In January 2017, the Women’s March in DC was an outlet for me to channel my rage and turn it into something more productive. My friends and I (with the help of our children) made signs, signed petitions, wrote articles, and drove to Washington, DC meeting carloads of diverse marchers along the way. We marched. We yelled. We felt powerful.
And then, as we were jammed like sardines on a DC street, Linda (Sarsour) began to speak. She turned an attack on the misogyny and racism in the United States into an attack on the Jews. On Israel. On us. It was at that very moment that I felt unsafe again, this time however, in what I perceived to be my own community. I remember her words and how they made me feel. I remember feeling claustrophobic. I remember wanting to leave. She made Jews feel like outsiders, like we didn’t belong. She did to us what history has always done to us: ostracize, shame, and blame us for our mere existence.
You are not Jewish and may not know that a fundamental principle of Judaism is social justice. I don’t expect you to share my views on Israel. Yes, I am a Zionist. And yes, the politics in the Middle East are far more complicated and nuanced than mass media (or any of you) indicates. But your words are more than irresponsible and factually incorrect, they have been more damaging than that. Your vitriolic message has been and continues to be clear: Jews, you decide if you are in or out, but you will be only be tolerated in the Women’s March if you renounce Israel. (Though it should go without saying, we will not renounce Israel.)
I ask you to imagine what it feels like to be everyone’s scapegoat. Nazis and racists don’t consider us to be white. Nazi dogwhistles and symbols appear daily in cities and towns all over the world and mass shootings have targeted Jews at synagogues. And the far left considers us to be “too white” and lumps us in with people who have upheld and supported white supremacy. In part, because of your words, many people on the left have been manipulated into embracing an insidious form of anti-Semitism.
There is great hypocrisy in the current leadership of the Women’s March aligning with men like Farrakhan. I don’t need to reference all of his abhorrent words as I am sure that you know them all. But what is shocking is the news that the Women’s March leadership holds Jews responsible for certain inequities. This is a longstanding anti-Semitic canard, one that we have fought our entire lives.
Unity Principles are meaningless unless Jews, more specifically, protecting the rights and existence of Jewish people, are a part of them. While you have added “Jewish women” to your list, it feels like lip service. Words mean little if the actions of the Women’s March leadership contradict them. While I don’t expect that any of you will willingly step down, until you wipe the leadership slate clean and operate from a true intersectional platform, the Women’s March and the entire movement are meaningless.