By Rolene Marks
It is often said that the “future is women”.
With movements like Times Up which advocates for gender parity and #MeToo which has sent a resounding message to the masses that women will no longer be silent about sexual abuse and harassment and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, it would appear that the time for women is now!
This International Women’s Day, as we focus on the importance of these issues, we have to consider whether or not ALL women are included in the conversation about these decisions that affect them.
With the rise of global phenomenon’s like the Women’s March and #MeToo that continue to gain momentum, so it seems that there are significant groups of women who are excluded.
In the case of the Women’s March, it was made abundantly clear to Jewish women who are proudly Zionist, that they were not welcome.
In fact, one of the founders, Linda Sarsour, had this to say:
“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
It begs the question – are Zionism and feminism on a collision course?
Comments like this are fast alienating Jewish, Zionist women from participating in tthe growing feminist movement in the USA.
During the Dyke March in Chicago in 2017, Jewish marchers who displayed the Star of David of their rainbow flag were asked to leave. Organizers defended their decisions saying that they did not want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” and that it made other marchers feel “unsafe”. This was not a display of the flag of Israel in all its blue and white glory but a rainbow flag with a Magen David (Star of David). So it was LGBTQ women’s rights for everyone – save for Jewish lesbians?
The Women’s March has fast become a growing cesspit of anti-Semitism, disguised in its new, trendy form anti-Zionism.
Three of the leaders of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are rising media sensations. They are articulate, camera-friendly and are very busy appearing to do good. They are “woke” and a draw card for young women who care about the growing importance of gender equality.
They organise rallies, clean up cemeteries, and protests at every conceivable opportunity. They are veritable pin-ups for girl power. They are also sadly, the new faces of ‘intersectionality’.
Intersectionality can be described as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Fraternisers Of Farrakhan
All suffering and discrimination are equal – except for that of Jews.
Unfortunately, these feminist poster girls have chosen to align themselves with some of the most vociferous anti-Semites.
While rallying against the “patriarchy” – they feel no compunction in cozying up to misogynist and arch anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who features at number 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of top Jew haters. Number one was the Pittsburgh Massacre. Farrakhan is known for his trafficking in gross anti-Semitic tropes like these:
“I’m not mad at you because you’re so stupid. So, when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you do what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I’m anti-Termite.”
“It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks. Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks… We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11”
Tamika Mallory referred to him as GOAT – Greatest Of All Time. Greatest hater perhaps, but certainly not someone to whom women fighting for equal rights should embrace like these leaders have.
As a result of this, many chapters of the Women’s March are divesting themselves from the greater movement and have joined well know celebrities like Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano in condemning the anti-Semitism that is spreading.
Feminism is very much a part of the fabric of Zionism and the story of the modern state of Israel and as a Zionist feminist woman, I am free to pretty much say what I want – unlike my Palestinian sisters!
Feminism predates the modern state of Israel and weaves through Jewish history with feminist heroines like Yael and Devorah and they have continued the tradition of strong, outspoken women in modern times. Zionists wrote the book on feminism. Literally! Have you read the bible? Some pretty strong women in there!
Zionist women are the ultimate feminist rebels, pioneers and trailblazers. Before the formal establishment of Israel, women were establishing the systems and institutions that would improve life for her citizens. Organisations like WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) were at the forefront of the suffragette movement that took place in Europe at the time. The struggle for political suffrage for women is regarded as first wave of feminism.
Women’s rights in Israel are amongst the most progressive in the world and it would be remiss of me to not mention the iconic Golda Meir, one of the first female Prime Ministers in the world.
A powerful leader and orator, Meir was one of the first to recognise how Israel can help impoverished countries in Africa, and this was very much in line with the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl’s, vision that he wrote in his manifesto.
Zionist women are free to criticise any policy that we may disagree with because an Israel that stands up to the tenets of Zionism is what we strive for.
Israel is a vibrant and flawed democracy just like any other country and women are very much a part of the fabric that has and continues to build the country every day.
We are pioneers in many fields. We are trailblazers in business, politics, volunteer organisations, the arts and sciences and so much more.
We are religious and secular and everything in between. We are warriors and defenders of our country on land, sea, air and airwaves and we are homemakers, entrepreneurs and creative genii. We are changing the political landscape and we represent over 80 different ethnicities. We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.
The hypocrisy of the Women’s March that while castigating and excluding Zionist feminists, they are not advocating properly for their Palestinian sisters. If they were concerned about the rights of Palestinian women, they would be holding the leadership accountable at every possible turn. They would be demonstrating outrage about domestic violence and honour killings, gender Apartheid which prohibits women from owning property or businesses, driving, voting and pursuing careers of their choice. They would march against underage brides forced to marry men before they reach puberty. They would be outraged about genital mutilation; genocide of Christian women and the unspeakable torture women are enduring in the Middle East under ISIS.
It is important that when it comes to discussing women’s issues, that the table is inclusive and that Jewish, Zionist women are included. Exclusion is not just discriminatory, it is hypocrisy.
Zionist women are happy to meet these organisations and movements at any intersection. Standing up for the rights of women regardless of religion or political leanings is what feminism is all about.