For a few brief moments today, American Jews felt heard, seen, and appreciated. When we became aware that three of the self-proclaimed leaders of Women’s March, Inc. had stepped down, it felt like our work to create a more loving, inclusive, and ultimately, effective women’s movement was finally coming to fruition. We saw this news as a sign that the leaders of the Women’s March were serious about a fresh start, and a truly inclusive movement committed to fighting antisemitism too.
While the public announcement that Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, and Linda Sarsour were cutting ties with the national organization was welcome news, our hearts sank as we learned that others who share their views and have publicly used their platforms to legitimize antisemitic dialogue and ideas will once again be leading the way. To say that this is unacceptable and outrageous is an understatement.
One of the newly announced Women’s March, Inc. leaders with a history of antisemitism, Zahra Billoo, has repeatedly slandered Jewish organizations and attacked Muslim Americans who fight for women’s rights alongside Zionists, claiming they are “faithwashing.”
Billoo’s numerous and unqualified attacks on Zionists leave no room in this coalition for American Jews, 95% of whom support Israel’s right to exist and consider Zionism an inherent part of our identities, alongside our commitment to progressive politics. No American Jew should be asked to check their full identities at the door in order to engage in progressive spaces. Nor should we be demonized for supporting the Jewish movement for liberation in our indigenous homeland, after thousands of years of oppression across the globe. No matter how hard people try, we refuse to allow you to erase our history or deny our right to self-determination. We will continue to call those efforts exactly what they are: antisemitism.
No amount of Jewish appointees to the new board can justify the appointment of an individual like Billoo, who has a well-established track record of anti-Jewish racism. Anyone who cares about anti-oppression work will recognize immediately that Billoo’s many rabidly antisemitic comments contribute to a culture in this country and around the world in which Jews are being harassed, assaulted in the street, and gunned down in our houses of worship.
It is truly astonishing––and wildly disappointing––that the organization’s effort to hit the reset button would so badly miss the mark. Perhaps this wasn’t a reset after all, but rather a reaffirmation that their inclusivity has boundaries, their commitment to intersectionality has limits, and they’re willing to tolerate anti-Jewish bigotry?
Those who actually care about the advancement of a progressive agenda will reject this new iteration of Women’s March, Inc. just as they rejected it earlier this year. They will seek real partners who care about all women, not just some women, and Zioness looks forward to working alongside anyone who sincerely wants to fight for true equity and justice.
We all have an obligation in this dangerous political moment to protect the integrity of the progressive movement and all the communities acting within it. That obligation demands that we speak out today and every day against antisemitism — whether it’s explicit or whether it masquerades as “anti-Zionism” — a hatred that is dividing and destroying our movement at a time when we need it most.